Taiwan to buy F-16s from the U.S. relatively cheaply: lawmakers

2019/09/01 18:26:11 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Taiwan to buy F-16s from the U.S. relatively cheaply: lawmakers

Taipei, Sept. 1 (CNA) Taiwan is expected to spend NT$250 billion (US$8.08 billion) to buy 66 F-16 fighter jets from the United States, which will put the cost of a single aircraft at a relatively cheap price of US$121.7 million, according to Taiwanese lawmakers.

The U.S. State Department approved the possible sale of the fighter jets to Taiwan Aug. 20.

The deal will have to first clear Congress before the Defense Security Cooperation Agency under the Department of Defense officially makes it public.

The process will be officially completed once both the U.S. and Taiwan sign a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA).

A military source told CNA Sunday that the military has finished drafting a special budget on the sale to be submitted to the Executive Yuan, after which it will be reviewed by the Legislative Yuan.

If everything goes smoothly, Taiwan will sign the LOA before the end of this year and send it back to the U.S. to finalize the deal, the source said.

Taiwan hopes to take delivery of all 66 F-16 C/D Block 70 fighter jets, known as the F-16V, by 2026, the source noted.

Meanwhile, the Air Force has already sent its representatives to try to convince lawmakers to approve the deal in the upcoming legislative session to begin later this month, the source added.

The two major political parties -- the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the opposition Kuomintang -- have both previously welcomed the possible sale and said they will most likely approve the special budget to be used to purchase the advanced jets.

According to DPP legislators Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) and Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應), Taiwan is buying the jets at a relatively low cost compared with the same jets sold to other countries by the U.S. in recent years.

Citing data provided by the Air Force, Wang said Taiwan is buying the F-16s at an average price of US$121.7 million per aircraft.

The cost is cheaper than the average cost for the same model of aircraft bought by Bahrain, Slovakia, Morocco and Bulgaria, which stood at about US$149 million per jet, Wang noted.

According to Tsai, the sale is a bargain because it is the cheapest F-16V the U.S has sold to a foreign country since 2009.

The Air Force, however, did not elaborate to the press on why it can buy the F-16s in cheaper price.

Meanwhile, aside from allocating the budget to buy the jets, Taiwan's military is also going to spend NT$778 million over the next five years to build its latest-generation locally developed eight-wheeled armored vehicle, which will be armed with 105mm guns, another source told CNA Sunday.

Two prototypes of the next-generation armored vehicles will be ready in 2023, the source added.

(By Matt Yu and Joseph Yeh)
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