Taiwan is expected to spend NT$250 billion (US$7.96 billion) to buy 66 F-16V jets, which will put the cost of a single aircraft at a relatively cheap price of about US$121.7 million, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ting-yu said, using a conversion rate of NT$30.94 to US$1.
The US Department of State on Aug. 20 approved the sale, but the deal has to clear the US Congress before the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency officially makes it public.
The process will be completed once the US and Taiwan sign a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA).
A military source yesterday said that the Ministry of National Defense has finished drafting a budget for the sale, which will be sent to the Executive Yuan and then the Legislative Yuan for review.
If everything goes smoothly, Taiwan is expected to sign the LOA before the end of this year, send it back to Washington to finalize the deal, and take delivery of all 66 jets by 2026, the source said.
The air force has sent representatives to lobby lawmakers to approve the deal in the legislative session that begins this month, the source added, while the DPP and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) have said they would most likely approve the budget.
Citing data provided by the air force, Wang said the price that Taiwan is proposing to pay is less than the average price paid by Bahrain, Slovakia, Morocco and Bulgaria, about US$149 million per F-16V.
DPP Legislator Tsai Shih-ying said the sale is a bargain because it is the cheapest F-16Vs the US has sold since 2009.
The ministry also intends to spend NT$778 million over the next five years to build the latest locally developed eight-wheeled armored vehicles, which would be equipped with 105mm guns.