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New U.S. arms deal with Taiwan underway: report

ROC Central News Agency

2011/01/14 13:37:29

By Zep Hu, Lee Ming-chung and Y.F. Low

Washington, Jan. 13 (CNA) The U.S. government has decided to sell a new arms package to Taiwan that will involve upgrades of the 145 aging U.S.-made F-16 jet fighters owned by the Taiwan air force, a Washington-based U.S. daily reported Thursday.

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama is keeping the details secret until after next week's visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao as the package "is expected to trigger new outrage from China's military," according to the Washington Times.

The paper said key elements of the package will include new radar, possibly the advanced Active Electronically Scanned Array system, and advanced AIM-9X air-to-air missiles.

Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, an association of American companies with business interests in Taiwan, was quoted as saying that the package has been approved by all U.S. agencies except the State Department and that final approval from Congress is not expected until later this year.

In Taiwan, however, the Ministry of National Defense denied any knowledge of the arms package.

Ruling Kuomintang Legislator Lin Yu-fang, who is a member of the Legislative Yuan's Foreign and National Defense Committee, said the package is logical but will not necessarily materialize in the near future.

"It's unlikely that the United States would choose to humiliate China at a time when Hu is visiting," Lin said.

The lawmaker said when he discussed arms sale issues with U.S. officials during his last visit to the United States, he could feel that Washington was more inclined to upgrade the existing F-16 A/B fleet than to sell new F-16 C/D fighters to Taiwan.

This would be reasonable because many F-16 A/B parts and components are no longer in production, Lin said.

Washington now has an even better reason to upgrade the capability of Taiwan's aging F-16 fleet following recent test flights of China's new J-20 stealth jet, he said.

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