China´s communist leaders must be celebrating. It now appears clear that president Obama has decided that the US will not sell F-16 fighters to its old ally, democratic Taiwan:
Taiwan will not be getting the 66 F-16C/D aircraft it has been requesting since 2007, a Ministry of National Defense official has confirmed, and fewer of its older F-16s will be retrofitted, news that could strike a blow to President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration as it heads into elections next January.
“We are so disappointed in the United States,” the official told Defense News on the sidelines of the Taipei Aerospace and Defense Technology Exhibition (TADTE), which ended on Saturday, blaming the decision on pressure from Beijing.
The article, released last night and written by the magazine’s Asia Bureau chief, Wendell Minnick, said a US Department of Defense delegation had arrived in Taiwan last week to deliver the news to Taipei and that as an alternative it had offered to secure the upgrade package for Taiwan’s ageing fleet of F-16A/B aircraft.
“The US Pentagon is here explaining what is in the upgrade package,” a US defense industry source told the magazine. “They are going to split the baby: no C/Ds, but the A/B upgrade is going forward.”
“The switch is meant to soften the blow of denying new planes to Taipei,” a source at Lockheed Martin, maker of the F-16, told Defense News.
Part of the deal, which sources said would be made toward the end of this month, would include an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, Defense News said.
The AESA radar will likely be Northrop Grumman’s Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) or the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR), although a source told the Taipei Times last week that some components of the SABR may yet to have cleared export licensing from the US government.
According to the magazine, the upgrade would make Taiwan’s F-16s among the most capable variants of the aircraft, “perhaps second only to the APG-80 AESA-equipped F-16E/Fs flown by the United Arab Emirates.”
However, in a follow-up conversation with the Taipei Times, Minnick said it now appeared that, contrary to initial plans to have the entire 146 F-16A/Bs upgraded, fewer aircraft would be retrofitted.
“My sources now indicate the A/B upgrade could be limited to only one of the two F-16 wings” that comprise the Taiwanese air force, he said.
Read the entire article here
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican chairperson of the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs is deeply worried about the Obama administration´s policy towards Taiwan:
US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairperson of the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, has issued a stern warning to US Vice President Joe Biden not to discuss arms sales to Taiwan while he is in China this week.
The warning came in a letter that was hand-delivered to Biden just before he boarded a plane to Beijing from Washington on Tuesday.
It followed a firm promise issued earlier in the week by the White House that arms sales would not be discussed and reflected suspicion in Congress that the administration of US President Barack Obama is being unduly influenced by Chinese sentiment on the arms sale question.
Ros-Lehtinen also used her letter to express support for Taiwan in its request to buy 66 F-16C/D aircraft from the US.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has already promised that a decision on the sale will be announced before Oct. 1.
Despite recent reports from Taipei to the contrary, US officials continue to insist that as of this week no decision has yet been made.
“I wish to address an issue of utmost concern to the Congress as you prepare to depart on your Asian trip, with a first stop in Beijing,” Ros-Lehtinen wrote to Biden.
“It involves the pending question of arms sales to Taiwan, as congressionally-mandated in the Taiwan Relations Act. The immediate issue involves the provision of the next generation of F-16 fighters and diesel [-electric] submarines to Taipei,” she wrote.
She said there had been considerable press speculation that Biden would discuss the arms issue in Beijing and that some in Taipei could perceive such talks as “undermining an old friend and ally.”
Read the entire article here
The apparent decision not to sell F-16 fighters to Taiwan is another sign of a weak president´s kowtowing to China´s authoritarian communist leaders. Shame on Obama, if the report about the refusal to support a long time ally is true!