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President Tsai confirms Taiwan seeking to buy F-16Vs from U.S.

2019/03/19 18:21:53

Image taken from Lockheed Martin's website

Taipei, March 19 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) confirmed Tuesday that her administration has made a formal request to the United States to purchase F-16 Viper fighter jets after an overall evaluation of Taiwan's defense needs.

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) has officially submitted a Letter of Request to the U.S. to buy a fleet of F-16V fighter planes, Tsai told a group of visitors from the Republic of China (Taiwan) Air Force Elementary School Alumni Association of the United States and Canada.

The decision was made after careful evaluation to determine the advantages of the F-16V compared with other fighter jet models, Tsai said, while receiving the visitors at the Presidential Office.

"I believe the decision will be supported by our nationals," she said, adding that it is the first time since 1992 that Taiwan has made a request to the U.S. to purchase new fighter jets.

Tsai said it has been 22 years since the first two F-16A/B fighters bought from the U.S. were put into service in the ROC Air Force.

It is time for Taiwan to acquire more advanced fighter jets, for the safety of its Air Force pilots, to boost its defense capabilities and to safeguard peace and stability in the region, she said.

Tsai's statements came in the wake of an Apple Daily report that said the defense ministry on Feb. 27 had made a request to the U.S. to purchase a fleet of 66 F-16V or F-16 Viper fighter jets at a cost of US$13 billion, which would include missiles and related logistics, as well as the training of pilots and maintenance personnel.

The MND later confirmed that it had made a request to buy a fleet of American fighter jets but declined to say whether it has specified the F-16V model.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Joseph Yeh)