Intelligence and Terrorism News
Taiwan plans to buy third-generation warplanes: newspaper
Jan 22, 2006, 13:31 GMT
Taipei - Taiwan plans to buy third-generation warplanes and upgrade its fleet of F-16s and Mirage 2000-5s to boost its defences against the mainland, the China Times daily said on Sunday.
'Our air force has drawn up the plan for third-generation warplanes, the most important feature is that they must be able to take off and land vertically,' the daily quoted Air Force Commander-in-Chief Liu Kui-li as saying.
'If China attacks Taiwan, its first target will be Taiwan's airbases. So if our warplanes can take off and land vertically, it can reduce their chance of being destroyed,' he said.
Liu said Taiwan Air Force 'really wants' the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), but the U.S. has not agreed to sell them to Taiwan.
The US Air Force has also cut its JSF order from 2,000 jets to about 1,000 jets, which will double JSF price to about 90 million US dollars, Liu said.
'So we maintain an open attitude, that is, so long as the jets can take off and land vertically, they can be our third-generation warplanes. They do not necessarily have to be US jets,' the daily quoted Liu as saying.
Liu said Taiwan plans to upgrade its fleet of F-16 and Mirage 2000-5s and has made the request to the U.S. and France, but has not received their consent yet. 'But we will continue to make the request every year,' he said.
Taiwan ordered 150 F-16s and 60 Mirage 2000-5s in 1992. Their service life can last for another 15-20 years, but the air force is planning to deploy third-generation warplanes by 2020.
To fill in the gap between now and the deployment of third-generation warplanes, Taiwan hopes to buy second-hand F-15s from the US Air Force, Defence Minister Lee Jye said on Thurday.
'We made the request to the US last year, but the US has not aproved it,' he told reporters.
China sees Taiwan, seat of the exiled Republic of China government since 1949, as its breakaway province. China has vowed to recover Taiwan by force if Taipei seeks independence or if indefinitely delays reunification with the mainland.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur