TAIPEI – Taiwan said Monday it needs fighter jets that are more advanced than the upgraded F-16 announced by the United States, suggesting that it was dropping its bid for dozens of the aircraft.
Taipei applied in 2007 to buy 66 F-16 C/D fighters, which have better radar and more powerful weapons systems than its current F-16 A/Bs, in response to China’s perceived military threat.
Washington in September 2011 said it had agreed to upgrade Taiwan’s 146 ageing F-16 A/Bs in a $5.85 billion deal but it held off on the sale of new jets.
Taiwan’s Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu said for the first time Monday that Taipei will not necessarily take the deal even if Washington gives the nod. “Our demand has changed following the announcement of the upgrade project. The jet fighters we buy in the future have to outperform the F-16 upgrades if we (are) to convince the tax payers,” he told Parliament.