Upgrade of F16 fleet squeezes budgets for other weapons: minister
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, Oct. 24 (CNA) The defense ministry said Wednesday Taiwan's heavy investment in upgrading its fleet of F16 A/B fighter jets is squeezing budgets allocated for other weaponry systems.
Taiwan's focus on upgrading its F16 A/Bs is reducing the chances for other weaponry systems to be renewed, Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu said at a legislative hearing on the country's defense budget.
The minister's remarks were a response to a question by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tuan Yi-kang.
Tuan asked Kao whether Taiwan will consider buying American M1 Abrams tanks now that the U.S. has withdrawn the tanks from the battle fields of Iraq and Afghanistan and is selling the military vehicles.
According to Tuan, former Deputy Minister of National Defense Chao Shih-chang has said that Taiwan needs to procure 200 tanks.
Taiwan's tank fleet currently consists of 450 CM11 tanks and 300 M60A3 battle tanks, Kao said.
"We would buy them (M1 Abrams tanks) if we had the money," Kao said, adding that the ministry needs to consider both its allocated budget and the country's primary defense needs when procuring arms from the U.S.
He said, for example, the U.S. was willing to sell M109 self-propelled howitzers to Taiwan in 2002. However, at the time, Taiwan's priority was not to update weapons for the Army, he noted.
If Taiwan wants to buy the M1 Abrams tanks, a compatibility evaluation on the country's infrastructure, such as roads, highway, bridges, will need to be conducted, he noted.
(By Chen Pei-huang and Ann Chen)
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