TAIPEI --- Taiwan's plan to buy 66 F16C/D jet fighters from the United States has been suspended by President George W. Bush, Minister of National Defense Lee Jye said Monday.
In a report to the Legislative Yuan's National Defense Committee, Lee said the U.S. stance is that until a long-stalled arms purchase package clears the legislature, it does not see Taiwan as having a consistent military procurement plan.
Lee was referring to a package of six Patriot PAC-3 anti-missile batteries, a squadron of 12 anti-submarine P-3C aircraft and eight diesel-electric submarines, which has been blocked by the opposition-dominated legislature for more than two years. Lee noted that U.S. officials in charge of military purchase had promised to sell the F16C/D aircraft.
The American Institute in Taiwan, the quasi-official organization authorized by the U.S. to handle ties with Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties, had also agreed to offer quoting price to various allies to the island for reference. However, Taiwan has received no response since late August.
But Lee said he believes that if the three-item arms procurement project clears the legislature, the F16 fighter procurement will also be revived.
The ministry is hoping to buy the F16C/Ds to replace the Air Force's F5E and F5F aircraft, which are being phased out over the next few years.
According to media reports, even if Taiwan is permitted to buy the F16C/Ds, they will not be delivered until 2011. By that time, Taiwan's self-developed IDFs will have been in service for nearly 20 years and the F16A/Bs purchased from the U.S. will have been in service for more than 15 years.
Meanwhile, the ministry's plan to buy eight to 12 SEAL delivery vehicles (SDVs) from the United Arab Emirates has been aborted, Lee said. Lee said that the purchase of the SDVs -- a type of mini submarine -- was suspended after news of the intended purchase was leaked.
Lee denied reports that the military has asked some government agencies to pay a deposit of between US$4 million and US$5 million for the mini subs, claiming that "we haven't paid anything, not even one cent."