|A F-16A/B from the ROCAF takes off in Taiwan|
A US congressional report released this week makes it clear that, without the acquisition of new aircraft, the Taiwanese air force risks being a shadow of itself by 2020 and incapable of meeting the challenge it faces in the Taiwan Strait.
The annual report by the Congressional Research Service, titled Taiwan: Major US Arms Sales Since 1990 — which Defense News has called “required reading inside Taiwan defense circles and among US defense officials working with the island’s military” — provides a detailed analysis of US arms sales to Taiwan over more than two decades.
The section on F-16 jet sales provides the greatest shock. By 2020, it says, the number of fighter aircraft in the air force would drop by 70 percent without the acquisition of new F-16s as it retires near-obsolete F-5s and some ageing Mirage 2000s, whose spare parts are reportedly extremely costly. Even if Taiwan were to acquire the 66 F-16C/Ds it has been requesting since 2006, the total number of aircraft would still have dropped by 50 percent by that time, the report says.
My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.