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U.S. House votes to sell 66 new fighter jets to Taiwan

ROC Central News Agency

2012/05/19 15:34:08

Washington, May 18 (CNA) The U.S. House of Representatives voted Friday in favor of the government selling 66 new fighter-jets to Taiwan to help the island close its military gap with China.

The House of Representatives voted late Thursday to press President Barack Obama's administration to authorize the sale of F-16 C/D jets as part of a slew of amendments to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.

The proposal, sponsored mainly by Representative Kay Granger (R-TX), still requires approval by the Senate.

It will be submitted to the Senate along with the Taiwan Airpower Modernization Act sponsored by Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), which seeks to mandate that the U.S. government sell at least 66 F-16 C/Ds to Taiwan.

"The sale of F-16s to Taiwan ensures our key strategic ally in the Pacific has the defense capacity to defend its own airspace," Granger said in a statement Friday.

"Our support for a democratic Taiwan is consistent with our national security priorities in the region and demonstrates that we will continue to stand by our friends and allies no matter who or where the threats are from," she said.

Observers said that the sale of the F-16 C/D fighter jets could bring in US$8.7 billion in economic benefits, and could project the image of the U.S. taking a tough position, which is why the deal has become a hot topic in Washington D.C.

Last September, the U.S. and Taiwan reached a US$5.85 billion deal to upgrade Taiwan's 100-plus aging F-16 A/B planes, which have been in service for more than a decade. At the time, Washington said Taiwan's request to procure F-16 C/Ds was under review.

Taiwan has been eager to procure new jets and enhance its defense capability amid concerns over China's growing military strength.

(By Tony Liao and Lilian Wu)

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