Saturday, September 24, 2011

Taiwan's Bid for Large F-16 Purchase Thwarted by Obama Administration

Legislation requiring the Obama Administration to follow through on the sale of 66 Lockheed-Martin [NYSE: LMT] F16 fighter aircraft to Taiwan was blocked by the US Senate earlier this week.
The U.S. Senate on Thursday rejected a bid to require President Barack Obama to sell 66 new F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan in addition to a $5.3 billion upgrade of its existing fleet he just approved.

Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, pushed for the sale, saying the United States had a responsibility under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act to provide its ally with the weapons it needs to defend itself against an attack from China.
Taiwan has been seeking to upgrade its inventory in the face of a military buildup on mainland China, which views Taiwan as a renegade province and has objected to arms sales to Taiwan.

An alternative proposal would see the bulk of Taiwan's already-existing F16 fleet upgraded as a part of a $5.8 billion military aid package. This is widely viewed as a stopgap and Taiwan is expected to continue pressing the USA to acquire additional new F16s.

In June 2011, the US State Department blocked a petition to submit a formal letter of request from Taiwan's Defense Ministry requesting the aircraft.

As the Obama Administration repeatedly blocked Taiwan's request for additional F16s, the People's Republic of China has introduced their latest generation stealth fighter and begun sea trials of their first aircraft carrier.

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