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U.S. Congress to debate sale of F-16 fighters to Taiwan

2012/05/18 14:32:02

Washington, May 17 (CNA) The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to debate Thursday and Friday a proposal to provide Taiwan with new F-16 fighter jets, Rep. Phil Gingrey said.

The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act will require the administration of President Barack Obama to sell at least 66 F-16 C/D fighters to Taiwan, the Republican lawmaker said while taking part in a discussion on Taiwan-U.S. relations hosted by the Heritage Foundation.

The co-chair of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus said Congress will continue to ask the U.S. government to fulfill its defense commitment to Taiwan and exert pressure on the Obama administration on the arms sale until it is accomplished.

With China having deployed 1,400 missiles targeting Taiwan and developed a new generation of military technologies, Washington should pay attention to whether Taiwan's military capabilities are sufficient to deal with the challenge, he said.

Taipei, whose fleet of F-16 A/B fighters is aging, has repeatedly asked Washington to sell it F-16 C/D jet fighters, but to no avail.

In September 2011, the U.S. approved the sale of a retrofit and training package for F-16 A/B fighters worth an estimated US$5.85 billion instead of offering new F-16 C/D fighters, but Taiwan still covets the more advanced fighters to narrow the gap with China.

In a letter to Republican Senator John Cornyn last month, White House assistant Robert L. Nabors said the United States will consider a proposal to sell new fighter jets to Taiwan as one of the options to address the military imbalance across the Taiwan Strait.

Asked to comment on the issue Thursday, Randall Schriver, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said the possibility exists for Washington to sell the F-16 C/D fighters to Taiwan this year.

(By Lin Shu-yuan and Y.F. Low)
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