Taiwan ready to buy 60 warplanes from US: official

May 11th, 2008 - 6:57 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of F-16
Taipei, May 11 (DPA) Taiwan is ready to buy 60 F-16C/D warplanes from the US and will pass the budget for the purchase as soon as Washignton approves the sale, a lawmaker said Sunday. Lin Yu-fang, a member of the parliament’s defence committee, made the remark in response to a newspaper report that a US official will come to Taiwan later this month to persuade incoming President Ma Ying-jeou to approve the purchase.

Lin said the newspaper report is wrong because the parliament has already passed the budget for F-16C/Ds but later froze the budget “to save face” as the US kept delaying the sale.

“So as soon as the US approves the sale, we will un-freeze the budget. This has nothing to do with wether Ma approves or disapproves the purchase,” he said.

“Actually, with the exception of the eight submarines which are expensive, the parliament has approved making the budget for other major arms purchases from the US,” he added.

Taiwan is seeking to buy 12 P3-C anti-submarine aircraft, eight conventional submarines, six PAC-III anti-missile batteries and 60 F-16 C/D jets from the US.

The US has approved the sale of P3-Cs, subs and PAC-III anti-missile system, but has yet to approve the F-16C/D sale.

Taiwan bought 150 F-16A/Bs from the US in 1992, and is seeking to buy F-16C/D to upgrade its air defence against China.

On May 9, the Washington Times quoted an unnamed Pentagon source as saying that the US Pacific Command wants to speed up the F-16C/D sale, but the State Department wants to postpone the sale until after the August 8-24 Beijing Olympics so as not to irritate China.

China sees Taiwan as its breakaway province and is opposed to US arms sales to Taiwan.

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