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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

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Ministry plans to Procure 60 F-16s

Numerous reports have been circulating in the media in recent months that Taiwan is planning to buy F-16s from the US. Yesterday the Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced that it would put a request for more aircraft in the budget:

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday that it has proposed a budget for procuring 66 F-16C/D fighter jets from the US.

Vice Minister of National Defense Kao Kuang-hsi (高廣圻), a vice admiral, told a press conference yesterday that part of the budget to purchase the fighters would be included in next year's military budget book which would be sent to the legislature at the end of this month for review.

The ministry's confirmation of the F-16C/D budget is believed to show its determination to push through its arms budget requests and to respond to a report in a US magazine that said Washington has decided not to sell the fighters to Taiwan for the time being.

The Ministry also released its report on national defense, which was obviously heavily politicized, as it claimed the biggest threat to Taiwan's security was China's missile force. The missiles are nasty, but there are too few and they are too inaccurate to be a credible threat to Taiwan's security. The real threat to Taiwan's security is China's development of a modern air force and navy..... In any case it appears that the MND wants to drum up local support for a strategic missile program aimed at China, in case foreign powers such as the US feel the urge to suppress it...

This year's report indicated that the military is establishing a "special missile force," the first time mention of such a force has been made in the annual reports.

Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑), however, refused to comment when asked at the press conference whether the "special missile force" referred to strategic missiles.

"I do not want to highlight the matter," Lee said.

"Every time the development of missiles is mentioned by the media, the military comes under pressure internationally. I do not like the pressure," he said.


Washington is severely unhappy with the legislature's refusal to make progress on the arms bill, and other publications have reported that any sales of F-16s will be contingent on forward motion in that regard. I don't see any prospect of that. Thus, look for more Blue betrayal of Taiwan's defense interests. If the DPP plays this card right, they can severely impact the Blues' 'strong on security' claims in the upcoming elections.

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