In a letter dated April 1, 2011, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the issue of U.S. defense equipment sales to Taiwan. The US-Taiwan Business Council shares Senator Lugar’s expressed concerns over Taiwan’s deteriorating airpower situation, and supports his contention that replacement of Taiwan’s tactical aircraft – such as with U.S.-made F-16C/Ds – is both necessary, justified, and not provocative.
In the letter, Senator Lugar wrote “Given the decrepit state of Taiwan’s F-5s, the service life issues associated with its IDF [Indigenous Defense Fighter], and a growing problem … obtaining affordable and sustainable access to spare parts for Mirages, I am very concerned that if the Administration does not act favorably on Taiwan’s outstanding Letter of Request (LOR) for sales of F-16C/D aircraft, Taiwan will be forced to retire all of its existing F-16A/B aircraft in the next decade, leaving it with no credible air-to-air capability.”
The Council also shares Senator Lugar’s concern over the tenuous nature of Taiwan’s present fighter fleet and its urgent requirement to retire obsolete F-5 and Mirage airframes, to upgrade F-16A/Bs and IDFs, and to procure new F-16C/Ds to replace retiring aircraft. Taiwan has a legitimate requirement to maintain a credible air deterrent in the face of a growing military threat from China – a threat that, to-date, has not been adequately discussed nor responded to by the Obama Administration.