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Tsai welcomes U.S.' decision to press ahead with sale of F-16 jets

2019-08-18  English News
Photo courtesy of CNA
Photo courtesy of CNA
Taipei, Aug. 17 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen on Saturday welcomed a move by the United States to press ahead with the sale of F-16V fighter jets to Taiwan, saying the gesture symbolized the stable relations between the two countries.

She was referring to foreign media reports, which cited U.S. officials and people familiar with the matter as saying that the U.S. State Department had submitted the arms package to Congress Thursday for informal review.

Speaking at an event in Taichung, Tsai said the decision on the F-16 sales to Taiwan and her recent high-profile visit to the U.S. reflected the development of Taiwan-U.S. ties.

Her visit to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in New York in July was the first by a sitting president of Taiwan, Tsai said.

The new fighter jets will enhance Taiwan's air power and defensive capabilities, and help meet its defense needs, she said.

"Money would be spent where it's most needed," she said, adding that the arms package is important to Taiwan.

In late February, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) made a request to the U.S. to purchase 66 F-16Vs but the deal apparently came to standstill when the U.S. Congress went into recess July 26 before it was informed by President Donald Trump's administration of the proposed arms sale.

According to AFP, Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the sophisticated fighter jets, said the newest F-16 model, the F-16 Block 70/72, is equipped with advanced features such as avionics, weapons and radar technologies that did not exist in earlier models.

In 1992, Taiwan purchased a fleet of older F-16 models that have since undergone several upgrades.