TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The sale of 66 F-16V fighter jets to Taiwan was “deeply consistent” with past commitments, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Tuesday (August 20).
The Trump administration member’s comment followed the approval by his department of the US$8 billion (NT$250 billion) deal. News agencies quoted Pompeo as describing the fighter jets as “deeply consistent with the arrangements [and] the historical relationship between the United States and China.”
“Our actions are consistent with past U.S. policy. We are simply following through on the commitments we’ve made to all of the parties.” According to the Taiwan Relations Act, the U.S. has the right to sell defensive weapons to Taiwan, though as each deal is announced, China protests and calls on Washington to abort the deal.
In the latest case, Beijing has also threatened to level sanctions against U.S. companies involved in the sale of the aircraft, which are manufactured by Lockheed Martin.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which supervises overseas military deals, said the F-16V sale would not alter the basic military balance in the Taiwan Strait, while it would contribute to Taiwan’s ability to defend its airspace. Regional security and “interoperability” with the U.S. would also benefit from the introduction of the jets, according to the DSCA.
Lockheed Martin claims the new aircraft, which are officially known as F-16C/D Block 70, can serve until at least the year 2070.