The U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin Corp. reached agreement this week on a $1.3 billion deal to refurbish a dozen antisubmarine aircraft for sale to Taiwan, the “last step” forward in a major arms deal stalled since 2007, according to a senior Taiwanese legislative aide familiar with the matter.These aircraft were originally part of the 2001 arms deal which the KMT stalled in the legislature for years, allowing US commentators to claim that Taiwan was not serious about its own defense. Delivery is not slated until 2013. These aircraft will perform the subhunting role nicely, but their presence means that Taiwan must have control of its own airspace, or these clunky, propeller driven aircraft, easy prey for modern fighters, will not be able to operate. Earth to Washington: sell us those 66 F-16s, please!
“The deal is now going very smoothly,” the aide told Kyodo News on condition of anonymity.
“This is the last step,” he said, referring to plans to ink a contract later this month on refurbishing 12 P3-C Orion aircraft that have already been cleared by the U.S. Congress for sale to Taiwan.
Long-awaited progress on the deal came as the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama said it would seek to boost defense ties with Taiwan, a sticking point in U.S. relations with China, which claims the self-ruled island as part of its territory.