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Author Topic: Taiwan still looking to buy new F-16 jets  (Read 3911 times)

Offline tigershark

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Taiwan still looking to buy new F-16 jets
« on: June 22, 2009, 11:46:29 PM »
Taiwan still looking to buy new F-16 jets
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan has not changed its bid to purchase U.S.-made F-16C/D jet fighters, its defense minister said yesterday.
Defense Minister Chen Chao-min said Taiwan is also trying to seek upgrades for the F-16A/B jet fighters currently in service in the air force.

Chen was responding to a Defense Week report that Washington, in an attempt to avoid angering Beijing, may ask Taipei to make a choice between obtaining the more advanced version of the F-16 jets, or receiving upgrades for the ones it presently has.

If Taiwan's 146 F-16A/B jets get a mid-life upgrade, the United States may not sell the 66 F-16C/Ds that Taiwan wants to buy, the weekly said in its latest issue.

“I have not heard any talks from the U.S. side about this,” said Chen, referring to the reported possibility of the United States asking Taiwan to make a choice.

“Taiwan has never changed its policy of trying to purchase F-16C/D jet fighters from the U.S.,” said Chen.

He revealed that President Ma Ying-jeou also reiterated Taiwan's request to have its F-16A/Bs upgraded during his transit stay in the United States last month.

Chen said the F-16A/B jets Taiwan bought over a decade ago need improvements to maintain their performances.

“We need both projects,” said Chen.

Ma stressed Friday that Taiwan still needs U.S. assistance in defending its national security even though cross-strait tensions have been easing since he became president in May 2008, according to the Central News Agency.

Ma made the remarks while meeting with visiting U.S. scholars - including former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Susan Shirk - who expressed concern over Washington's role in the Taiwan Strait and over cross-strait development.

He said that changes in cross-strait over the past year have been beneficial to Taiwan, China and the U.S.

Despite the improving cross-strait ties, Ma said that Taiwan still needs U.S. help in safeguarding national security, and that he is eager to maintain the status quo.

The president also reiterated his call for a “diplomatic truce” between Taiwan and China, saying he would not block Taiwan's diplomatic allies from pursuing economic relations with China.

Shirk described Ma's cross-strait policy as practical and said she was deeply impressed by the progress made in cross-strait ties over the past year.



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