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Taiwan's Air Force says it plans to add new wing of F-16V

ROC Central News Agency

2019/08/16 23:00:40

Taipei, Aug. 16 (CNA) Taiwan's Air Force said it is planning to establish a new fighter wing when new fighter jets are acquired after the Washington Post reported that the Trump administration is moving ahead with its US$8 billion sale of F-16V fighter jets to Taiwan.

Taiwan's Ministry of Defense (MND) made a request to the U.S. in late February to purchase 66 F-16Vs. Progress seemed to be stalled earlier this year as the Trump administration did not inform Congress of the proposed arms sale before Congress went into recess July 26.

On Friday, the Washington Post reported that the Trump administration notified Congress late Thursday it would submit the US$8 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan for informal review despite strong objections from China, quoting people familiar with the sale.

Taiwan's MND did not directly respond to the story, saying only that the package "is under review in accordance with its process and the MND is waiting for formal notification from the U.S. side."

Taiwan's Air Force said on its Facebook page on Friday, however, that it is planning a new F-16V fighter wing since it is the most battle-ready type of fighter for Taiwan considering personnel can be quickly re-trained and logistics will be very efficient as Taiwan already has 144 F-16 A/Bs in service.

The main fighters in Taiwan's fleet -- the F-CK-1, Mirage 2000 and F-16A/B -- have all reached their middle age, and Taiwan needs to obtain new fighter jets to cope with hostile threats and future operational needs, the Air Force said.

That is especially true with China stepping up its systematic "military training" in the form of encirclement of Taiwan by its ships and planes.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a statement Friday that Taiwan's government is "cautiously optimistic" over the planned purchase, citing four previous arms sales by Washington to Taipei, which it described as signs of the U.S.'s "firm support of Taiwan's security."

The MOFA emphasized the importance of strengthening the country's air defense capability, citing China's increasing provocations.

(By Emerson Lim)

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