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Taiwan shops for newer air defenses
Chinese mainland missiles biggest threat, envoy says
Taiwan urgently needs newer model F-16 jet fighters to bolster its air defenses and overall security because of growing missile and aircraft threats from China, Taiwan’s deputy defense minister said Wednesday.
“We have about 90 F-5s as part of our air defense aircraft, and obviously it is urgently in need of replacement,” Mr. Yang said at the end of a four-day U.S. visit to attend a defense industry conference. “That is the foundation for the proposal to acquire the F-16 C/D model to replace the aging F-5 fleet.”
The Obama administration, according to U.S. officials, has held up its decision on the sale of 66 new F-16s, worth an estimated $3.1 billion, to avoid further upsetting defense ties with China. They are to resume with a meeting of U.S. and Chinese officials this week in Hawaii.
“Of course, missiles are the primary threat for us,” he said. “That’s the reason why we want to acquire the anti-missile systems and long-range radar early warning systems.”
Chinese missiles currently are targeted against air force bases and major military assets, which is another reason the F-16s are needed to bolster overall defenses.
“Protecting our military capability is vitally important so that we can still have the capability to conduct counterattacks, as China is going to use their air force to try and control the airspace over Taiwan area in order to conduct … amphibious attacks followed by those [missile] operations,” Mr. Yang said.
The request for the jets is “rational and justifiable” and should be granted, he said.
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About the Author
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
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