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US to sell 66 F-16s to Taiwan

July 17, 2006 (by Bjorn Claes) - The United States has agreed to sell Taiwan 66 F-16 fighter jets in a deal worth over US $3 billion stating a report on July 17th, 2006.

RoCAF F-16A block 20 assigned to the 21st FS flies over the Gulf of Mexico during Exercise Combat Archer.

A Taiwanese delegation proposed this procurement of F-16C/D fighters during the annual military meeting in Washington on May 25th - 29th, 2006.

"The United States has given its nod over the sales of 66 F-16C/D block 52s for at least US$3 billion," the report quoted.

If the report is confirmed, it would be the biggest arms deal the United States has offered Taiwan since 2001. In that year the US provided Taiwan with eight diesel-powered submarines, 12 P-3C submarine-hunting aircraft and PAC-3 Patriot missiles.

The new planes are aimed at replacing the ageing fleet of 60 Taiwanese F-5 aircraft who are serving for almost 30 years now. The deal is part of the Taiwanese Relations Act but is still a shift in US policy. Back in 1992, the US agreed to sell Taiwan 150 less sophisticated F-16A/Bs, but refused to provide F-16C/Ds which have a longer range and powerful ground attack capability. This seems to be no further hesitation for the deal to continue.

As part of any F-16C/D deal, Taiwan is expected to renew a repeated request for Boeing Co.-built Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) and Raytheon Co. High-Speed Anti-radiation Missiles that target radar-equipped air defense systems. Such requests were denied as recently as last year.