US Legislators Boost Pressure to Sell Taiwan US Fighters

Posted September 15th, 2011 at 3:04 am (UTC-5)
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Pressure is building in the U.S. Congress to force the Obama administration to sell new fighter jets to Taiwan.

Senators Robert Menendez of New Jersey and John Cornyn of Texas introduced the Taiwan Airpower Modernization Act this week. The bill says President Barack Obama must adhere to “obligations” under a 1979 law that requires the U.S. to sell the self-ruled island sufficient weapons for its defense.

U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, saying China must not be allowed to dictate U.S. policy in the Pacific.

Taiwan is seeking to purchase 66 advanced F-16 fighter jets to replace its fleet of aging F-5 fighters. An F-5 fighter jet was involved in a crash Tuesday that killed three men.

The bill put forth by Menendez and Cornyn also addresses the economic benefits the sale of the jets would have on the U.S. economy.

China is adamantly opposed to the possible sale of the F-16C/D jets to Taiwan, which Beijing considers as part of its territory. News reports say the United States may instead offer to upgrade Taiwan's existing fleet of less advanced F-16s.

A final decision is due next month.