FAPA says that another bill on F-16s has been introduced in the US Congress:
One day after President Obama concluded his China trip and after the introduction of H.R.4102 in Congress of legislation highlighting the stalled U.S. arms sale to Taiwan, Texas Congressman Joe Barton (Republican) introduced H.Res. 927 to boost the expeditious delivery of F-16s to Taiwan yesterday afternoon. Congress introduced two resolutions in 24 hours on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and Taiwan’s security right after President Obama issued a joint statement in China earlier this week.US lawmakers are also seeking to put pressure on the Obama Administration about Taiwan arms sales.
The resolution concludes that “(1) it shall continue to be the policy of the United States, consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, to make available to Taiwan such defense articles and services as may be necessary for Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability; and (2) the United States should determine the nature and quantity of such defense articles and services ‘based solely’ upon the legitimate defense needs of Taiwan.”
The bill references that “Taiwanese Defense Ministry has requested and the Executive Yuan approved in August 2007 a 2008 defense budget that includes approximately $764,000,000 for the second year's budget for F–16C/D fighters.”
On October 9, at a Washington press conference, Senator John McCain what his own views are on providing Taiwan with F-16s. The Senator stated: “My position on F-16s for Taiwan is that I believe that we should provide Taiwan with the equipment that they feel is necessary to defend themselves. We know that there's a significant military buildup on the other side of the Strait. So, I personally favor the sale of F-16s to Taiwan.”
Another key piece of news came out of Kyodo News service last week:
The U.S. military has required Taiwan to bear the costs of a major, unexpected security upgrade to a key U.S.-made radar on the island, a move signaling Washington's growing distrust of Taipei's ability to safeguard against security breaches as the island woos China, a local government official said.Lots of things happening -- is it bad luck, company policy, or is the Obama Administration throwing up roadblocks to arms deals? Hard to say. Kyodo noted in another article that the military is moving to all-volunteer:
The request came as Washington demanded what sources said are exorbitant prices on a range of arms that Taiwan seeks to purchase -- from U.S.-made missiles to helicopters -- and dithers over the island's longstanding request to kick-start the procurement process for F-16 fighter jets.
Amid the ''price-gouging,'' the U.S. military -- without prior consultation with Taiwan -- recently asked the island to pay for the addition of costly ''anti-tampering'' technology in an US$800 million early-warning radar system, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
''The Taiwanese military is really frustrated with the U.S. [over radar issues],'' the official told Kyodo News, adding that the price tag for the unscheduled security measures was nearly NT$2 billion (US$61 million).
''Implementing security measures is standard. But why has the U.S. sprung this on Taiwan some three years after the project started and as it’s nearing completion?'' the official said.
For Taipei, the last-minute request points to Washington's apparent concern over the security of U.S.-made military platforms on the island amid warming relations across the Taiwan Strait, the official said.
''The U.S. is worried about its Taiwan-based technology becoming compromised as cross-strait ties warm…and the island becomes more vulnerable to Chinese espionage,'' the official said.
Asked for comment, a media liaison officer in Taiwan's defense ministry confirmed the extra security costs, saying the ministry was ''looking into the matter.'' The official declined further comment and requested anonymity.
In 2006, Washington hired U.S. defense contractor Raytheon to build the radar facility, reportedly on Leshan Mountain in central Taiwan. Scheduled to begin operations this year, the radar's capabilities include detecting and tracking incoming missiles from China, according to a recent report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS).
But mudslide-induced delays have abounded, according to Defense News, a U.S. newsweekly covering military affairs. Indeed, a recent job advertisement on Raytheon's website seeks an engineer to supervise ''the surveillance radar program at the Taiwan field site…and work in a remote and hazardous environment.''
Since construction began, Washington has ''on many occasions requested more funds'' from Taipei beyond the radar's sticker price, citing washouts of mountain roads and loose soil, the China Times, a local Chinese-language daily, reported last week.
But Washington's latest radar-related request fits with a more recent pattern of overcharging Taipei -- often for political or security-related reasons -- the official said, citing separate deals over U.S.-made missiles and helicopters.
Taiwan's latest bid to procure U.S.-made Javelin anti-tank missiles and launchers hit a brick wall after Washington raised the price of each missile from US$80,000 to US$240,000 without explanation, the official said.
''The Ministry of National Defense, which used to isolate itself from the outside world, has now found it necessary to connect with society,'' said Lin Chung-Pin, a former deputy defense minister. The commercial, Lin added, is part of the military's bid ''to connect with youth and meet the goal of an all-volunteer force.''________________
By 2015, Taiwan will slash its 275,000-strong military to 210,500 service people and phase out conscripts -- a force structure transformation whose scope is unprecedented for the island.
''Implementing voluntarism is the most essential and complicated military (task) for the Republic of China at present,'' Taiwan's 2009 National Defense Report states, referring to Taiwan's official title. ''Voluntarism is also key to determining personnel and warfighting capabilities.''
For now, conscription remains the bedrock of the island's defense, with young men required to serve roughly one year of military service before or after college. The duration of conscripts' service has steadily lessened in recent years as the island's relations with rival China have improved and tensions ease.
- This excellent review of Taiwan from the Woodrow Wilson Center offers good articles on the current condition of the island.
- Another good piece, this one on civic group objections to the National Land Planning Act, which apparently contains developer-friendly back doors. Imagine that.
- Good obit for longtime Taiwan friend James Lilley.
- Chinese spies aggressively stealing US secrets. It's been that way since I was working in DC twenty years ago....
[Taiwan] Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!