The United States may allow its contractors to upgrade Taiwan’s existing F-16 A/B jet fighters later this year or in 2012, according to a report carried in the latest issue of Defense News.
Cited analysts and pro-Taiwan lobbyists, the report said that the U.S. administration is expected to release the F-16 A/B upgrade package as a strategy to ease pressure from Congress to sell more advanced F16 C/Ds to Taiwan.
The upgrade deal would bring Taiwan’s F-16s to a standard broadly comparable to the F-16AM/BM flown by European air forces, which started life as F-16 A/Bs, the report said.
For a decade, Taiwan has been seeking a batch of F-16 C/Ds from the U.S. to upgrade its aging air arsenal. It remains unclear whether Taiwan can acquire the 66 F-16 C/Ds it wants since China has made it clear that it considers such a deal a “red line” that the United States should not cross.
In a rare demonstration of bipartisanship, the co-chairs of the Senate Taiwan Caucus, Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) published in late May a letter signed by more than 40 of their colleagues urging the Obama administration to approve Taiwan’s request to buy 66 F-16 C/D jets.
Selling the jets to Taiwan is a way to reassure governments who have questioned the U.S. commitment to the region and to remind Beijing that old alliances will not be traded away to appease a bigger trading partner, one editorial said.
Filed under: News | Tagged: Defense News, F-16, F-16 A/B, F-16 A/B jet, F-16 A/B jet fighters, F-16 A/B upgrade, F-16 Falcon, F-16 upgrade, F16 C/D, James Inhofe, Robert Menendez, Senate Taiwan Caucus, Taiwan's F-16 | Leave a Comment »