Taiwain is buying jets from the U.S. in exchange for strategic help against China
The island nation of Taiwan has requested a new batch of fighters from the USA- and the United States gets to advise on the type and number of aircraft they believe could best serve Taiwan.
Constantly under threat of invasion by the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan has long had their military furnished by the US, with some exceptions being home-built small arms and other such instruments.
Taiwanese Air Force Command Headquarters Planning Division Maj. Gen. Tang Hung-an confirmed the letter of request sent to the US, noting that just about everything is on the bargaining table.
“The F-15, F-18, F-16 and even the F-35 are all among our options, as long as the jets help to strengthen our air defense capabilities.”
According to Defense News, the initial request is reported to have been sixteen F-16V fighters, which included missiles, logistics and personnel. However, it appears that the sky is the limit for the Taiwanese Air Force, provided they can afford the price tags.
While Taiwan has been interested in the F-35, requests have been rejected due to the fear of one falling into Chinese hands, particularly in the wake of several espionage cases to plague the island nation.
While Taiwan has an affinity for American aircraft, it also operates French Mirage 2000 fighters, and the indigenously-manufactured AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Luo fighter, though both models are showing their age.
The United States is bound by a decades-old treaty to “make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.”
As previously stated, the F-15 Eagle, F-16 “Viper” (nobody calls it the Fighting Falcon), and F/A-18 Hornet are the most likely choices, with each aircraft possessing certain advantages over one another.
Neighboring island Japan previously developed the Mitsubishi F-2 off the F-16’s design, has a healthy fleet of F-15s on hand, and some F-35s. Similarly, South Korea operates the F-16 and F-15, as well as owning one F-35 (with 40 on order). Both nations still operate the F-4 Phantom II, which served the US from 1960 until 1996.
The V-model of the F-16 series is a serious system overhaul, with updates designed to bring the airframe up to par with fifth-generation fighters. With a new active electronically scanned array radar, upgraded computers, improvements in the cockpit and other modifications, the new Viper is the baseline for F-16 models to come.
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