Taiwan submitted a letter of intent (LOI) for a briefing on future price and availability (P&A) data for the F-35 in May 2002. In the LOI the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO - Taiwan's de facto embassy in Washington, DC) requested P&A data for 120 F-35B STOVL aircraft. the MND modified its requirement in 2004 with a bolder request for 60 F-35B STOVL and 150 F-35A conventional take-off and landing aircraft. Minister of National Defense Lee Jye told a press conference in January 2006 that the US refused to offer Taiwan its newest JSFs, which will come into service in the next few years. The Ministry of National Defense has calculated that Taiwan would find it difficult to procure the US model before 2020.
Taiwan was looking to buy U.S. "fifth-generation'' fighter jets featuring stealth and vertical takeoff capabilities, a Chinese daily reported on 26 March 2009. "Taipei has plans to buy an F-35 modification with vertical takeoff to provide support to naval infantry operations," Jin Nian Jiancao said. It said there were two main reasons Taipei wanted to buy F-35s. "Firstly, the existing fleet of Taiwanese fighters can be easily destroyed with Russian-made S-300 surface-to-air missiles deployed in mainland China," it said. "Secondly, F-35s will make Taiwan less dependent on airfields in the event of an armed conflict between the two coasts of the Taiwan Strait." The fighter needs a runway of 300 meters or less to take off. Washington has yet to react to Taipei's request. Observers attributed the U.S. silence to fears of a critical reaction from Beijing. The U.S. has stalled on the island's request for 66 less advanced F-16s. Taiwan first expressed an interest in F-35s as early as 2006, according to Jane's Defence Weekly.
In response to news the U.S. had decided to decline Taiwan's request for new F-16C/D fighter aircraft, Andrew Yang, Taiwan's deputy minister of defense for policy, said in September 2011 that the air force would consider the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in future discussions with the US. Yang's comments were made at the sidelines of the US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference in Richmond, Virginia, on Sept. 18, and generated a flurry of media reports.
A delegation from the Taiwan-US Inter-Parliamentary Amity Association of the Legislative Yuan said on 12 July 2013 in Washington that Taiwan wants to purchase advanced F-35 jets that best suit its defense needs. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator and association chairman Lin Yu-fang briefed the press in Washington after the delegation’s meeting at the Pentagon with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia David Helvey to discuss Taiwan’s needs for advanced defense weaponry. The delegation also met with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Regional Security and Arms Transfers Gregory Kausner at the American Institute in Taiwan’s (AIT) Washington headquarters.
The lawmakers said Taiwan needs more advanced fighter jets and submarines to enhance its defense, and needs to gain more international space. Lin said Taiwan would continue to push for the purchase of F-35 jets from the US, 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 US agreed to upgrade Taiwan’s fleet of F-16A/B 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-offs and landings,” Lin said. “But even if the US approves the sale, the global waiting list is so long that it would take 15 to 20 years for Taiwan’s order to be delivered.”
J. Michael Cole, a correspondent for Jane’s Defence Weekly and deputy news chief at the Taipei Times, argues "The F-35 could ... become a convenient tool to kill the F-16C/D program while maintaining the politically useful illusion that Taipei remains committed to national defense. While there’s no doubt that requests for the advanced aircraft are heartfelt within the military, there’s reason to doubt that the same applies to Taiwan’s National Security Council and the Presidential Office."
Taiwan’s airpower situation is deteriorating and replacement of its tactical aircraft is necessary if it is to maintain even a minimal military capability with respect to the mainland. By 2010 Taiwan's force of modern fighters was nearly out-numbered by the mainland's Su-27 fleet, and certainly outclassed. Sometime after the year 2020 the new J-20 stealth fighters would enter service in significant numbers, and even a few dozen such aircraft might be expected to make short work of Taiwan's fighter force. In the face of the J-20, buying more F-16s would be little more than buying more targets, with the F-35 being the only available response.
The “National Defense Policy Blue Paper” was released by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party on 03 October 2014. It stated "The probability of acquiring the U.S.-made F-35B within the next ten years is quite low. V/STOL fighters could represent Taiwan’s last manned fighter jet as we move toward a completely unmanned air fleet. To ensure that we retain a certain capacity for indigenous R&D and maintenance, we must set domestic production the default first option. The time frame for development is approximately seven years, with an development cost of between NT$80 to 100 billion, and mass production can begin approximately nine years after the development program is initiated."
The United States put the possible sale of Harrier jets on the table, as these aircraft meet the requirements for vertical takeoff and are being phased out by the U.S. Marine Corps in favor of the F-35. They are also decades old and suffer from performance inadequacies in many respects, as well as being very costly to maintain.
By January 2017 officials pointed out that the United States F-35 stealth fighters, for example, although Japan, South Korea, etc. have placed orders to buy, but the manufacturer's production can not meet the demand, even if the United States wants to sell to Taiwan, it may have to wait for a while.
By early 2017, Taiwan planned to add the Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft to a weapons purchase list due to be submitted as soon as July. At the same time, the island intended to drop a longstanding request for more advanced F-16s to replace its aging fleet, according to Wang Ting-yu, head of the Taiwanese legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee. “We hope we can get F-35s," Wang told Bloomberg News. “We have been waiting for updated F-16s for too long. Their time has gone. If we buy them now, in 10 years time they’ll be no use." Wang, who’s a member of Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party, said “We will submit our request to the U.S. to purchase jets in July... We hope the U.S. understands our needs. Our fighter jets really are too old."
The National Interest reported in late 2018 that Taiwan began to shy away from the F-35 fighter after reviewing a Taiwan National Security Council report, which stated that the aircraft was too costly and was an unreasonable purchase due to its lack of real combat tests.
In response to media reports that "Taiwan is being used again? I bought F-16Vs more expensive than F-35s." The Air Force Command stated 31 October 2019 that the contents of relevant media reports were unfair, and this Ministry explained as follows:
The F-35 contract price announced by Lockheed Martin is the price for the US military and the initial research and development country. It does not include the amount of investment in research and development, and the items purchased by each country, the quantity and the supply schedule are all It is not the same. Compared with neighboring countries, the stand-alone price of buying F-35 is more than US$150 million, so it is impossible to simplify the analogy and the same inference.
China's purchase of F-16V (BLK70) fighters is the most favorable price in the country agreed to be sold and purchased by the United States, and the fighters purchased by this department have commonality with the weapons and ammunition equipment used by the F-16 fighters in service, which can avoid the same life span. , Effectively save the defense budget.
According to the U.S. Armed Forces Annual Report (SAR), the F-35 fighter aircraft R&D expenditure has been roughly estimated at 53.1 billion U.S. dollars. For purchases by non-initial member countries, R&D expenditures must be apportioned and the funding country must agree to purchase. According to the current plan The mass production period must be available until 2044. A window is available for sale to non-member countries. Taking into account the current threat of enemy conditions, purchasing F-16V (BLK70) can immediately increase air defense capabilities, shorten personnel training time, and reduce military investment and logistics. Maintaining costs can also achieve industrial cooperation and comprehensively enhance the development of the defense industry. 4. Relevant media reports used different standpoints and simplified inferences. The headquarters expressed regret and appealed to the Chinese people to continue to support the development of the army to enhance the overall combat effectiveness of the Air Force.
Asked whether the defense ministry has plans to buy the F-35 fighter, on 23 September 2020 Taiwan's defense minister Yen De-fa said the Air Force "will have such a need going forward" to cope with any new threats posed by Chinese military action. Besides cost considerations, another reason why the ministry decided to buy the F-16V instead of the F-35 is because it could start taking delivery of the F-16Vs from 2023, while it would take 10-15 years to take the F-35.
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