The US government has denied Taiwan’s request for new F-16C/D fighters, reportedly offering a $4.2 billion upgrade package as a consolation prize, according to press reports. Taiwan has repeatedly requested the advanced fighters to counter China’s growing military strength. At the same time, China has repeatedly warned US officials that such an arms sale to Taiwan would boost tensions between the two superpowers. A Pentagon delegation to Taiwan delivered the final verdict last week, reported Reuters, citing Defense News. The upgrade package would include Airborne Electronically Scanned Array radar for Taiwan’s fleet of 146 Block 20 F-16s. Neither government has publicly confirmed the reports and a spokesman for Taiwan’s defense ministry still expressed hope that “the sale of new F-16C/D fighter aircraft will go through,” according to Reuters. The Taipei Times reported that the rumored upgrade may be further limited to only one of two wings equipped with the F-16. Taiwan requested a total of 66 Block 50/52 aircraft estimated at $5.5 billion.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.