Friday, May 25, 2012

J Michael Cole in The Diplomat

Panorama of Taitung and its basin from Rte 197.

Over at The Diplomat in its flashpoints blog, the intrepid J Michael Cole of the Taipei Times has a piece on how the F-35 can be used to ensure that the F-16s never arrive....
Whether the international consortium, led by Lockheed Martin Corp, will eventually succeed in making the troubled [F-35] work is an intellectual exercise that has already been carried out elsewhere. What is already known, however, is that the aircraft has become prohibitively expensive. Furthermore, and more relevant in the present case, the F-35 involves systems and attributes that could make the U.S. extremely reluctant to sell the aircraft to Taiwan, for fear that the advanced technology would be transferred to China. Despite improving relations in the Taiwan Strait in recent years, China continues to aggressively target the Taiwanese military and would undoubtedly make a platform such as the F-35B a primary target of such activity.

Meanwhile, other options, such as the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Dassault Rafale, remain off the table, as the EU doesn’t want to risk Beijing’s wrath by selling arms to Taiwan.

The F-35 could therefore become a convenient tool to kill the F-16C/D program while maintaining the politically useful illusion that Taipei remains committed to national defense. While there’s no doubt that requests for the advanced aircraft are heartfelt within the military, there’s reason to doubt that the same applies to Taiwan’s National Security Council and the Presidential Office.
What he means is that pursuit of the F-16 can now be quietly abandoned with the announcement that the F-35 is now the target. Since the F-35 will never be sold to Taiwan, as J Michael notes, pursuit of the F-35 is tantamount to a decision not to buy new fighters at all. While the KMT and President Ma have made lots of right-sounding noises, it seems pretty clear, at least to this observer, that they do not want Taiwan to have any new fighters, given that they killed discussion of the bill to purchase the fighters over 60 times in the legislature, including when Ma was Chairman of the KMT.....
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Lorenzo said...

While Hillary Clinton enjoys her butterfly diplomatic road show (according to the Economist), how is she able to attend to KMT's lethal camouflage?

She would probabily thinks "What? Why Thailand wants to buy F35? Is it a better massage oil?"

Ben Goren said...

I remember we came to the same conclusions the minute the Air Force General made noises about F35s.

Tom said...

The F35 is a horrific boondoggle.

The closest analogue it has would be the T-80 tank produced by the Soviet Union. From the 50s to the 70s the Soviets had the most advanced armor systems per dollar of cost, by far, before they decided to sink their next-gen tank budget into the overly complex and mechanically unreliable T-80. The malinvestment there consigned their entire land armor program to becoming laggards behind the West. The same may happen with the F35 and American fighter system dominance.