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Taiwan makes pitch for purchase of F-35 fighter jets

2013/07/11 18:45:47

An F-35 fighter on display at the Singapore Airshow 2012. (CNA file photo)

Washington, July 10 (CNA) A delegation from the Taiwan-US Inter-Parliamentary Amity Association of Taiwan's Legislature said Wednesday in Washington that Taiwan wants to purchase advanced F-35 fighter jets that best suit its defense needs.

Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator and Association Chairman Lin Yu-fang briefed reporters in Washington after the delegation's meeting at the Pentagon with David Helvey, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, to discuss Taiwan's needs for advanced defense weaponry.

The delegation members, in their capacity as the Republic of China (ROC) lawmakers, also met with Gregory Kausner, deputy assistant secretary of state for regional security and arms transfers, at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Washington Headquarters, according to Lin.

The lawmakers said Taiwan needs more advanced fighter jets and submarines to enhance its defense, and also needs to gain more international space.

Lin said Taiwan will continue to push for the purchase of F-35 fighters from the U.S. but should also consider buying a reasonable number of F-16C/D jets to replace Taiwan's aging F-5s, which are expected to be phased out in the next few years.

When the United States agreed to upgrade Taiwan's current fleet of F-16A/B fighter jets in September 2011, it effectively ruled out the sale of the next-generation F-35s, according to Lin.

It would be ideal if Taiwan could purchase the new fighters, which are capable of vertical and short take-off and landing, Lin said.

But even if the U.S. approves the sale, the global waiting list is so long that it would take 15-20 years for Taiwan's order to be delivered, he added.

While in Washington, the delegation also met with members of the U.S. Congress including Sen. Benjamin Cardin, chairman of the East Asian & Pacific Affairs Subcommittee, and Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Earlier in New York, the delegation met more than a dozen of the permanent representatives to the United Nations of Taiwan's allies at the U.N. headquarters.

(By Tony Liao and Ann Chen)
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