TAIPEI - Taiwan is no longer interested in buying the advanced F-16C/D fighter jets from the United States, a source told local media yesterday.
Quoting an unidentified high-ranking military source, the Chinese-language China Times yesterday said that the R.O.C. armed forces have decided to drop the plan to call for Washington to approve the sale of advanced F-16C/D fighter jets to Taipei to beef up its self-defence capabilities.
It has been more than a decade since Taiwan first asked the US to grant the sale during the previous Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration in 2000. However, the US side has yet to approve the arms deal so far.
The military source told the newspaper that the military no longer considers it necessary for the US to sell Taiwan F-16 C/D fighters.
According to the source, the R.O.C. Air Force's existing F-16A/B fighters are currently undergoing retrofitting.
In September 2011 the US approved the sale of a retrofit and training package for Taiwan's existing F-16A/B fighters but not the sale of new F-16C/Ds.
Once the retrofit is completed, the F-16A/Bs' capabilities would be equal to 80 per cent of those of the F-16C/Ds.
The upgraded F-16A/B, Mirage 2000s as well as locally built IDF "Ching-Kuo" (經國號) fighters will suffice to meet air defence needs against possible Chinese attack for now, the source said.
The source continued to say that the more important issue now is to acquire advanced missiles and weapons systems from the US to put on Taiwanese fighter jets.
The fighter jet itself is not as important as the missiles it can carry, the source said.
Therefore, Taiwan will no longer ask the US to grant the F-16 C/D sale.
Even if Washington does grant the sale, Taiwan is no longer interested in buying it, the source said.
Continue to Ask for F-16s: MND
Asked to comment, the Ministry of National Defence (MND) yesterday said Taiwan has not changed its mind regarding its request for the US to approve the F-16C/D sale.
Taiwan has continued to push for Washington to sell F-16C/Ds or more advanced fighter jets to beef up Taiwan's defence capabilities, the MND said in a released statement, possibly referring to the F-35B jets.
Meanwhile, the MND stressed that the F-16A/B retrofit project has been proceeding as planned.
The MND will continue to push for more arms procurement projects after a careful evaluation on Taiwan's defensive needs and the nation's financial capabilities, it added.