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No official word on sale of F-35 jets from U.S.: Defense Ministry

2017/04/05 17:03:15


Taipei, April 5 (CNA) Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense said Wednesday that there has been no official word from the United States on sales of F-35 fighter jets, after Japanese media reported recently that Washington has a plan to sell Taiwan F-35s.

Asked by a lawmaker about the ministry's attitude if the U.S. is willing to sell F-35s to Taiwan, Wu Pao-kun (吳寶琨), head of the ministry's department for strategy planning, said during a hearing in the Legislature's Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee that Taiwan would welcome the move.

Taiwan is seeking aircraft with short-take off and vertical-landing capabilities and thus needs F-35s, Wu told lawmakers.

Wednesday's hearing came after Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported earlier this week that the U.S. is planning to sell Taiwan F-35s and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system.

It became the focus of Wednesday's interpellation.

In response to lawmakers' questions on whether Taiwan has received related information on such arms sales, Wu, however, said there has been no official word from Washington.

On the issue of the THAAD system, Wu reiterated Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan's (馮世寬) stance, saying that Taiwan has no need of the deployment of THAAD in the short term. He also noted that the radar in the long-range early-warning radar (EWR) system in Hsinchu County, northern Taiwan, has similar functions to that of THAAD.

Meanwhile, following recent U.S. media reports that the U.S. is expected to announce new arms sales to Taiwan, possibly after a summit meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in April, Reuters also reported on March 17 that "the Trump administration is crafting a big new arms package for Taiwan that could include advanced rocket systems and anti-ship missiles to defend against China," citing unnamed U.S. officials.

(By Lu Hsin-hui and Elaine Hou)