October 19, 2011
The Obama administration’s refusal to sell new, high-tech fighter jets to the Taiwanese is a dangerous decision that will weaken American influence in the region and leave our ally vulnerable to Chinese attack.
In his latest report, The Heritage Foundation’s Dean Cheng explains that America has a duty to Taiwan’s national defense:
Under the clear terms of the Taiwan Relations Act, the U.S. is obligated to provide Taiwan with the hardware and services necessary for its defense. This obligation is a critical component of U.S. policy in the Western Pacific because it ensures that, in the event of a cross-Strait conflict, Taiwan will not be overwhelmed by a technologically superior People’s Liberation Army.
Cheng notes that the Obama Administration has failed to honor this commitment:
Despite this obligation, the current Administration has not yet agreed to sell Taiwan new advanced combat aircraft, such as the F-16 C/D, or even offer ameliorative steps to address Taiwan’s defense needs. Such delay will only spark uncertainty about America’s resolve to meet its global commitments—uncertainty that will only further embolden an already confident China.
The Taiwanese have no intention of replacing their old F-16s, which they acquired in the 1990’s. The new planes are intended to replace the much older F-5E fighters, of 1960’s vintage, in their arsenal.
By offering upgrades instead of new planes, America has left Taiwan with inferior fighters. It has further crippled their forces by taking their F-16s out of commission while they are upgraded.
Instead of offering an inferior product that will cripple an important ally, Cheng argues that America should take several steps to ensure Taiwan is able to defend itself:
- The Administration should reconsider its decision not to sell F-16 C/Ds to Taiwan
- Congress should authorize a separate, independent assessment of Taiwan’s defense requirements.
- The Administration should authorize a more complete upgrade of Taiwan’s current fighter inventory.
- The U.S. should press Taiwan to undertake additional measures to improve the survivability of its forces
The administration should make concerted steps to show that China cannot bully America out of honoring our commitments to Taiwan.
To learn more, follow this link to Dean Cheng’s Getting Serious About Taiwan’s Air Power Needs.
What do you think? How can America best honor its agreement with Taiwan in the face of a massive deficit and the threat of large defense cuts looming on the horizon?