U.S. WANT TAIWAN TO COMMIT ON ANTI-SUBMARINE AIRCRAFT BY MAY 1
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, March 23 (CNA) The United States has asked Taiwan to decide before May whether it intends to buy 12 U.S.-made P-3C anti-submarine aircraft, an Naval official told the Legislative Yuan Wednesday.
Navy General Staff Vice Admiral Lee Hai-tung said the U.S. might withdraw its offer to sell the planes if Taiwan fails to commit to the deal before May 1.
He said he did not agree with an opposition lawmaker's sarcastic claim that Taiwan is America's watchdog in the Taiwan Strait, but he admitted that Taiwan would share with the United States information gathered by its anti-submarine aircraft.
In a briefing to the legislature, Lee said the 12 P-3Cs offered by the United States are the same model currently in use by the U.S. and would therefore make exchanging information on the planes with the U.S. easy.
Lee said the 12 P-3Cs are the minimum Taiwan requires to shield itself from underwater attacks, and after being retrofitted, they would replace the country's aging anti-submarine fleet of 26 S-2Ts. They may also be used in combination with forces on and beneath the water to expand the current area patrolled by a factor of 10.
Given the fact that P-3Cs are in service in at least 16 countries around the world, the U.S. is eager to know whether Taiwan will accept its offer as orders from other countries are piling up, Lee claimed.
The P-3Cs are part of a proposed arms purchase from the U.S. The package was originally budgeted at NT$610.8 billion (US$18.23 billion) , but is now being considered at NT$480 billion due to currency changes and a decision not to build submarines included in the deal in Taiwan.
The budget for the purchase has been stuck in the legislature because of opposition parties who think that the weapons are overpriced and will not approve the deal.
(By Maubo Chang)
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