Taiwan considers all options for new jets from the U.S.

China's Air Force modernization has started to create an imbalance: Taiwan

One of Taiwan's F-16 fighter jets.

One of Taiwan's F-16 fighter jets. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - All options are on the table for the new fighter jets from the United States, the Ministry of National Defense said Thursday in response to media reports saying Taiwan wanted to buy 66 F-16V jets with a total price tag of US$13 billion (NT$400 billion).

The strengthening of China’s air force had started to cause a certain level of imbalance across the Taiwan Strait, military officials said at a news conference Thursday.

The ministry said its letter to the U.S. did not mention requests for any specific aircraft, but choices would be made and prices discussed according to the reply, the Central News Agency reported.

All modern jets, whether F-15, F-16, F-18 or F-35 were options to be considered, officers said.

In the meantime, the program to upgrade its F-16A/B to F-16V level at the rate of 24 planes a year was slightly behind schedule, according to the military. Monthly meetings between the ministry, the Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC), the American Institute in Taiwan and Lockheed Martin Corporation had been discussing improvements, with the hope that Taichung-based AIDC could increase its manpower on the project, CNA reported.

The upgrade features the addition of more sophisticated radar systems and the possibility of firing AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles.

Taiwan’s Air Force disposes of a total of 326 fighter jets, including F-16s, French-built Mirage 2000, and local Indigenous Defense Fighters.