TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Taiwan last week submitted a request to buy 66 F-16V jets from the United States for a total price of US$13 billion (NT$400 billion), the Apple Daily reported Wednesday.
The unconfirmed report came amid concern about China’s military build-up, including a raise of more than 7 percent in its annual defense budget and the recent stationing of strategic bombers just 450 kilometers from Taiwan.
The Ministry of National Defense officially handed its application for the fighter jets on February 27, according to the Apple Daily.
The package not only included the aircraft themselves, but also the training of their pilots, air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, and two years of “after-sales care,” the newspaper said.
In an eventual military conflict across the Taiwan Strait, control of the airspace was of the utmost importance, as without it, the fight on land and at sea would be hard to win, according to experts.
The new planes were likely to be stationed at Taichung City’s Chingchuankang Air Force Base, while its Indigenous Defense Fighters would be moved to the east coast to replace the aging F-5E/F which will soon go into retirement, the Apple Daily reported.
In 1992, Taiwan spent US$6 billion (NT$185 billion) on 150 F-16A/B jets.