The USA refused to sell 66 multi-purpose F-16C/D fighters to Taiwan because of the concerns of the Chinese administration, The Taipei Times wrote. Indeed, why would such a small country as Taiwan need such a large batch of fighter jets?
China has changed the balance of forces to its own advantage during the recent 15 years in the region. China’s Air Force presumably consists of Russian-made Su-27 and Su-30 aircraft. The country also uses its own fourth-generation F-10 aircraft. This fighter is a combination of the technologies used in Russia’s Su-27 and USA’s F-18.
The modernization of another Chinese fighter, FB-7 will give an opportunity to use it for night-time warfare above the sea surface.
Taiwan is perfectly aware of the fact that the communist leadership of China has never declined the idea of making the two countries become one, even if the military force was required for that.
Taiwan became even more concerned about its possible future problems when it surfaced that China would have at least one aircraft-carrier by 2012. It was also said that Beijing was going to purchase a batch of deck-based Su-33 fighters from Russia. These intentions will considerably increase China’s chances for a successful unification operation.
Taiwan tries to do its best to show that it is fully prepared to respond to possible aggression from China. The country annually holds military drills, the major goal of which is to train the battling capacities of the nation’s air force.
Most of Taiwan’s Air Force needs to be reequipped in order to accomplish its battle missions. Many of its F-5 fighters are over 30 years old. Taiwan also has earlier models of F-16 A/B aircraft, which the country purchased from Washington in 1992. Many of them will not be able to take off ever again because of the problems with spare parts supplies. The USA does not sell the new aircraft to Taiwan not to irritate China. Dozens of Taiwanese pilots were killed in air crashes during the recent ten years.
Taiwan can provide only 30 percent of its own army needs. The rest will come from abroad, presumably from the United States. Taiwan has its own fourth-generation F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo aircraft, as well as the enhanced model of IDF-II Goshawk fighter, which AIDC Corporation built on the base of Ching-Quo IDF-1.
Taiwan can also find a different supplier, which could be a way out of the situation. Many other aircraft makers did not wish to ruin their relations with China. However, France does not seem to care much about its image in China. Taiwan has already replaced many of its F-5 fighters with 60 French Mirage-2000-5 planes. The French can also sell its Rafal fighters to Taiwan instead of F-16.
When Washington declined the deal to sell its aircraft to Taiwan, it lost almost $5 billion.