WASHINGTON (GDC) — Taiwan finalized the purchase of advanced F-16V fighter jets from US aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin on Friday, a source confirmed to AFP, in a $62 billion 10-year deal sure to anger Beijing.
Bloomberg reported the $62 billion figure announced by the Pentagon as the upper limit of numerous sales contracts over the decade. The jet fighter contract with Taiwan was said to have been inked on Friday.
Taiwan will have a follow on orders for MIM Patriot missile defense system once Taiwan upgrades the current Patriot missiles, and PAC3 MSE missile package associated with the MIM Patriot PAC3.
Lockheed Martin’s sale of F-16V fighter planes would help meet Taiwan’s need to defend itself from China.
The Pentagon did not disclose who the buyers were, citing the sensitive nature of the transaction. However, insiders confirmed to AFP and Bloomberg that Taiwan was one of them.
The self-ruled island, which China considers part of its territory, last year obtained the green light from Washington for the purchase of 66 new generation F-16 Vipers (Block 70/72) which will allow it to modernize its defenses.
Taiwan already has a fleet of F-16A/B/C purchased in 1992.
The new contract, which the Pentagon said is for an initial delivery order of 66 jets, provides for more modern aircraft with the newest technology and weaponry.
Beijing insists that Taiwan — an island of 23 million people that has been self-ruled since 1949 — is part of its territory and has vowed to respond with force if Taipei ever formally moves towards declaring independence.
Washington, which switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, remains Taiwan’s most powerful ally and its main supplier of arms.
The Lockheed contract comes as Beijing flexes its political muscle in Hong Kong, imposing a sweeping security law on the international business hub, a move that has caused concern in Taiwan.
It also comes two days after a visit to Taiwan by the highest-level US delegation since 1979, provoking fury from Beijing, with ties between the two superpowers severely strained over issues from trade to military and security issues, human rights and the coronavirus pandemic.
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