TAIPEI (Taiwan News) --- U.S. President Trump has confirmed that he has approved the sale of F-16V fighters to Taiwan and that the arms deal will be approved by Congress.
According to information provided by the White House press office, before leaving for New Jersey, Trump told the press that he had approved the arms sale and he indicated his confidence that the Senate would pass the weapons deal, reported CNA. Trump said that the deal is worth US$8 billion and that it will bring a lot of jobs to the U.S., indicating his confidence that Taiwan will use the F-16 "very responsibly," according to the report.
The sale of the F-16V fighters is the largest weapons deal between the U.S. and Taiwan in recent years. At a time when the U.S.-China trade war is at an impasse, and Trump has started to link the trade war with the Hong Kong protests, the sale of the fighter jets will surely irritate Beijing.
Many experts believe that the F-16V can carry and fire many newer short- and medium-range air-to-air missiles and will be more effective in countering the threat posed by China's 4th generation fighters such as the Su-35 and J-10. The warplane's manufacturer Lockheed Martin points out that the new F-16 has a number of avionics, weapons, and radar technologies that previous models did not have, and is designed to operate well into 2070 and beyond.
On June 16, Taiwan's Air Force announced that it would purchase 66 F-16V fighter jets from the U.S. and would deploy them at the Zhi-Hang Air Base in Taitung in the future.
Taiwan earlier this year requested the purchase of the aircraft. The arms sale must be examined by the U.S. State Department and the Defense Department and submitted to the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and House of Representatives before being sent back to the State Department for a final decision.
The Washington Post on Aug. 15 cited a source as saying that the Trump administration had submitted the US$8 billion arms sale proposal to Congress that day for review.