Washington - In May, Senators Menendez and Inhofe, co-chairs of the Senate Taiwan Caucus, led an effort backed by 45 members of the United States Senate in support of the U.S. sale of 66 F-16 C/D aircraft to Taiwan. In response to unofficial reports that the Administration will only offer a retrofit package for older F-16A/Bs, the co-chairs stated that a decision that does not include new airplanes is unacceptable.
While China is in the process of deploying next generation Chinese and Russian manufactured ships, fighter aircraft, and submarines, Taiwan is losing the qualitative advantage in defensive arms that has long served as its primary military deterrent. Limiting U.S. assistance only to upgrades of Taiwan's existing F-16 A/B fighters would exacerbate both near and long term air-to-air challenges since a substantial number of Taiwan's deployed F-16 A/Bs would have to be removed from service in order to undergo upgrades.
"An announcement by the Obama Administration that it is willing to proceed with the upgrade of Taiwan's F-16 A/Bs would not be a new commitment," Senator Menendez said. "Providing the military resources Taiwan needs is in the vital security interest of Taiwan, the national security interest of the United States, and is compelled by the Taiwan Relations Act."
"In addition to enhancing Taiwan's security, this sale would infuse billions of dollars into the U.S. economy, sustain and generate thousands of well-paying American manufacturing jobs including 750 in New Jersey," Menendez added.
Inhofe, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said, "Taiwan is an important ally in the region. As China upgrades its airstrike capability, it is important that Taiwan be allowed to maintain a strong defense structure. The Obama administration should not kowtow to Chinese wishes that would restrict the sale of the F-16s, and we should move forward with supplying the F-16 C/D aircraft to Taiwan. It is in the best national security interest of the United States and Taiwan, and fulfills our obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act."