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Taiwan air defense solid, general says
by Staff Writers
Taipei, Taiwan (UPI) Sep 30, 2011

Taiwan president renews call for US sale of new jets
Taipei (AFP) Sept 30, 2011 - Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou Friday renewed a call for the United States to sell new advanced fighter jets, despite a recent US decision to help the island upgrade existing aircraft instead.

Ma made the appeal for a US sale of sophisticated F-16 C/D fighter jets in a meeting with visiting US Congressman Hank Johnson, a Democrat, the state-run Central News agency reported.

"I'm glad that (the United States) is still seriously considering (selling the F-16 C/Ds)," Ma was quoted as telling Johnson.

The United States said last week it would equip Taiwan's 146 ageing US-made F-16 A/B jets with new technologies, in a $5.85 billion deal which fell short of the island's fervent wish for 66 new and more powerful F-16 C/Ds.

Although the package was less than what Taiwan had hoped for, it triggered an angry response from China, which warned that Sino-US military ties would be hurt as a result.

Taiwan has ruled itself since 1949, but China still considers it part of its territory and has threatened that it wants reunification, even if it means war.

The Chinese military is gaining a decisive edge vis-a-vis Taiwan, but US arms sales to the island make China's superiority less crushing than it otherwise would have been.

The head of the air force said Taiwan's defense capabilities won't suffer despite the refusal of Washington to sell the island country F-16C/D fighters.

Instead of allowing the sale of new fighters to Taiwan, the United States has agreed to a major $5.9 billion upgrade program of the country's 145 General Dynamics F-16A/B Fighting Falcon jets.

An ongoing three-year upgrade program of 71 Indigenous Defensive Fighters will be complete late next year just as upgrading begins on Taiwan's F-16A/B fighters, Taiwanese air force Gen. Chang Huey-zon said during a legislative session.

Upgrades to F-16A/Bs will be conducted on a gradual basis, with around 24 aircraft overhauled annually, a report a report by the national news agency CNA said. All the F-16 upgrades will be completed by 2023.

"The decision was made to ensure a balanced military capability," Chang said.

Upgrades to another 56 IDF jets is set to be carried out from 2013-16 at a cost of around $530 million, Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu told a parliamentary committee.

"Besides making foreign arms purchases, we have to continue our efforts to advance military manufacturing technology," Kao said.

Kao said that by showing resolve to maintain self-defense capabilities Taiwan could persuade the United States to agree to the sale of more advanced weaponry in the future.

The ministry also plans to spend $2.63 billion on the acquisition of 50 training aircraft which could be designed and manufactured in Taiwan, although no firm decision has been taken, Kao said.

Development of the IDF -- also known as the AIDC F-CK-1 -- came about because of another refusal by the United States, that of selling Northrop F-20 Tigershark and also F-16 aircraft to Taipei in the 1980s.

However, the sale of the F-16 aircraft went through in 1992, at the same time Taiwan ordered 60 Dassault Mirage 2000 fighters. The Taiwan government also already had committed to the IDF program.

Delivery of all F-16s was completed in 2001.

The IDF was designed and built by the Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. in Taichung, Taiwan, with assistance from U.S. defense corporations.

Airframe development was done in cooperation with General Dynamics.

Power plant and propulsion were designed with Garrett, now Honeywell.

Avionics came from Smiths Industries with some components purchased directly from Lear Astronics, Litton and Martin-Baker.

Maximum speed is around Mach 1.8 from two Honeywell F125-70 engines with a ceiling of 55,000 feet. Range is around 680 miles.

Taiwan remains the sole user of the IDF which first flew in 1989. The aircraft entered active service in 1994 and 130 had been manufactured by 1999.

While the refused sale of the F-16C/D aircraft was a disappointment to Taiwan, the announcement of the upgrade package to the older A/B variants was sternly denounced by Beijing.

"The wrongdoing by the U.S. side will inevitably undermine bilateral relations as well as exchanges and cooperation in military and security areas," China's Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun said in a statement.

Zhang summoned U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke to Beijing to personally deliver the protest and warn of repercussions, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Zhang told Locke the proposed sale was a "wrong decision" that the Obama administration should "immediately cancel" before it produces "serious harm," Xinhua said.

Related Links
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Lawmakers to grill US officials on Taiwan jets
Washington (AFP) Sept 30, 2011 - A US congressional panel will next week question top officials on arms sales to Taiwan, with some lawmakers upset that a recent deal did not include new fighter jets, a legislative aide said Friday.

The Republican-led House Foreign Affairs Committee called a hearing Tuesday to hear from Kurt Campbell and Michael Schiffer, the top officials handing East Asia at the State Department and Pentagon, respectively.

President Barack Obama's administration on September 21 announced a $5.85 billion upgrade of Taiwan's 146 aging F-16 A/B jets, saying that the move would allow the island to bolster its defenses against a rapidly growing China.

But a number of lawmakers have pushed the administration to sell 66 of the new and more powerful F-16 C/Ds, a longstanding request of leaders on the self-governing island which China claims as part of its territory.

A congressional aide said that Tuesday's hearing would focus on the arms sales as "the decision not to include the F-16 C/D raised eyebrows in Congress on both sides of the aisle."

Although the package was less than what Taiwan had hoped for, it triggered an angry response from China, which warned that military ties with the United States would be hurt as a result.

However, US officials have voiced hope that the damage to relations with China would be minimal.

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Taiwan academic detained for feeding info to China
Taipei (AFP) Sept 30, 2011
A Taiwan university professor was detained Friday on suspicion of having passed confidential information to China, officials said. Wu Chang-yu, who taught Chinese political history at the Central Police University, was placed in custody as media said he was suspected of having leaked sensitive intelligence on Chinese citizens' trips to the island. "He was detained this morning at his hom ... read more

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