East-Asia-Intel.com, June 8, 2011
A block of nearly half the U.S. Senate have urged President Obama to break the deadlock on arms sales to Taiwan and permit sales of F-16C/D aircraft to the island, a move that would surely disrupt newly blossoming U.S.-China military relations.
Taiwan is seeking to buy 66 newer model F-16s to upgrade its existing fleet of F-16s, which were sold in the 1980s.
The State Department has been blocking the F-16 sale to avoid upsetting China.
The letter was made public by Sen. Robert Menendez during a congressional hearing May 28.
The 45 senators who signed the letter said "we are writing to express serious concern about the military imbalance in the Taiwan Strait. To maintain peace and stability in the Strait, it is critical that your administration accept Taiwan’s Letter of Request and move quickly to notify Congress of the sale of the 66 F-16C/D aircraft that Taiwan needs in order to modernize its air force."
"Taiwan desperately needs new tactical fighter aircraft," the letter said. "We are deeply concerned that further delay of the decision to sell F-16s to Taiwan could result in closure of the F-16 production line, and urge you to expedite this export process before the line closes. Without new fighter aircraft and upgrades to its existing fleet of F-16s, Taiwan will be dangerously exposed to Chinese military threats, aggression and provocation, which pose significant national security implications for the U.S."
Taiwanese officials have said that Taiwanese pilots are dying in crashes caused by older jets that are becoming more difficult to maintain.
By contrast, China’s air forces are increasing in power and numbers, with new F-10s and Russian-design Su-27s and Su-33s.