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Purchase of tanks, F-16Vs will boost Taiwan's defense: ex-U.S. official

2019/08/20 23:34:09

Wallace Gregson (CNA file photo)

Taipei, Aug. 20 (CNA) Taiwan's defense capabilities will be enhanced with the acquisition of M1A2 battle tanks and F-16V fighter jets from the United States, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Wallace Gregson said Tuesday in Taipei, one day after it was confirmed that the aircraft deal had been approved.

Asked to comment on the U.S.' recent decision to sell Taiwan two separate arms packages, Gregson told reporters that given Taiwan's unique defense problem, tanks can be a valuable addition to its arsenal.

The M1A2 is "a very capable system" with "high cross-country speed -- an effective weapons system," said Gregson, who is in Taipei for an international forum on issues related to regional maritime expansionism.

"Similarly, the new F16s will come with systems that will enable Taiwan to build a network defense against missile attacks, both cruise and ballistic," he said.

The acquisition of F-16V fighter jets and M1A2 battle tanks is expected to boost Taiwan's defense capabilities, said Gregson, a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant general who served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs from May 2009 to April 2011 during President Barack Obama's administration.

Taiwan's military should come up with a strategy to make the best of use of these arms packages, he said on the sidelines of the 2019 Asia-Pacific Security Dialogue in Taipei.

On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed that he had approved a US$8 billion deal on F-16Vs for Taiwan, which, according to information from the White House press office, the president said he believed would be used responsibly.

The decision followed a request in late February by Taiwan's defense ministry to purchase 66 F-16Vs from the U.S.

Last month, the U.S. Department of State approved the sale of a US$2.2 billion arms package to Taiwan that included 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks and Stinger missiles.

Taiwan's military has said the acquisition of the tanks is meant to replace some of its aging M60A3 Patton and CM-11 Brave Tiger tanks currently in service.

(By Elaine Hou and Joseph Yeh)
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