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Taiwan open to all fighter jet options: MND (update)

2019/03/07 18:29:28

CNA file photo

Taipei, March 7 (CNA) Taiwan is open to all possible fighter jet options as long as they help beef up the nation's air defense capabilities, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said Thursday in response to media reports that it last week asked the U.S. to sell the country 66 F-16Vs.

Asked to confirm, Maj. Gen. Tang Hung-an (唐洪安), head of the Air Force Command's Planning Division, declined to give a concrete answer.

"The F-15, F-18, F-16 and even the F-35, are all among our options, as long as the jets help to strengthen our air defense capabilities," he said during a press event.

He also explained that the Air Force recently submitted a Letter of Request to the U.S. to buy a batch of fighter jets. The letter, however, did not specify what kind of model it is asking the U.S. to sell.

"We are still awaiting a U.S. response on what kind of aircraft it is willing to sell us before we evaluate if that model fits our needs and if we can afford it before making a final decision," Tang noted.

MND Department of Strategic Planning Director Wu Pao-kun (吳寶琨), meanwhile, would not confirm if the purchase could cost Taiwan US$13 billion.

Wu said Taiwan is waiting for an official U.S. response before it evaluates the financial aspect.

The expected spending would also be open to future negotiation and would also depend on which model of aircraft the U.S. decides to sell to Taiwan, he added.

According to the Apple Daily, the MND on Feb. 27 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.

Asked to comment on Taiwan's arms sale request, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) spokesperson Amanda Mansour told CNA the U.S. government does not comment on proposed weapons sales or transfers until the U.S. Congress has been notified.

However, Mansour said U.S. arms sales to Taiwan are guided by the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and based on an assessment of Taiwan's defense needs.

"This administration is resolved to fully implement the provisions of the TRA under which the United States makes available to Taiwan defense articles and services necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability," she said, adding that the Trump administration continues to evaluate Taiwan's defense needs in consultation with the U.S. Congress.

(By Joseph Yeh)