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US formally approves F-16 sale to Taiwan

21 August 2019
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The US State Department has approved the sale of 66 F-16C/D Block 70 aircraft to Taiwan. Source: Lockheed Martin /Randy A. Crites

Key Points

  • The DSCA confirms that a USD8 billion deal has been forwarded to Congress for approval
  • The deal represents a shift in Washington's approach to military sales to Taipei

The US government has officially approved the sale of Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter aircraft to Taiwan, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has announced.

The DSCA said on 20 August that the State Department has approved the USD8 billion deal - featuring 66 F-16C/D Block 70 aircraft - and has notified Congress of its decision. Given widespread bipartisan support for the sale, Congress is widely expected to approve the contract.

According to the DSCA, the sale includes the aircraft as well as 75 General Electric F110 engines, 75 Link-16 systems, 75 Northrop Grumman APG-83 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, 75 General Dynamics M61 Vulcan 20 mm guns, and a range of other associated equipment, tooling, and services.

The DSCA said the sale "serves US national, economic, and security interests by supporting [Taiwan's] continuing efforts to modernise its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability". It added, "The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region."

Defence offsets are also expected to be part of the sale, indicated the DSCA. The offset programme is likely to expand Lockheed Martin's strong ties with Taiwan's Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC).

A State Department official said the potential F-16 sale is in line with US legislation under which Washington is committed to supporting Taiwan's defence capabilities. "Today's notification is consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act and our support for Taiwan's ability to maintain a sufficient self-defence capability," he said.

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