Taiwan’s Ministry of Defence: We’re not going to try to order F-16 C/Ds anymore
Yep, in a move that could have wide ranging implications for not only Taiwan’s defence but also in terms of the cross-strait balance of power, the Ministry of Defence under the pro-China and China-identifying KMT Administration has determined the following (Via KMT News Network):
Ranking ROC Defense Official: We No Longer Need to Buy F-16C/DsSource: China Times, August 11, 2014The US government has not approved Taiwan’s long-standing bid to purchase F-16C/D fighter jets. A high-ranking defense official of the Republic of China (ROC) recently revealed a change in Taiwan’s policy vis-à-vis arms procurements from the US, i.e., Taiwan no longer intends to buy F-16C/Ds even if the US should approve such a request. The official said that Taiwan had hoped to purchase F-16C/Ds because Taiwan wanted to replace its second generation fighter jets with third generation aircraft and F-16C/Ds could help make the transition. But now there was no such need, the official added.The official said that the government did not plan to procure new fighter jets in the next twenty years. Instead, the government planned to upgrade the three types of second-generation fighter jets currently in use, namely, Ching-Kuo Fighters (commonly known as IDF), Mirage 2000s, and F-16A/Bs. After being upgraded, F-16A/Bs can perform at 80% of the capacity of F-16C/Ds.The same official went on to say that since fighter jets, as such, were “delivery vehicles,” the government decided to purchase more advanced missiles from the US during the recent US-Taiwan arms sales talks.
Here are three quick implications:
- This invites Chinese aggression, bullying, and blackmail since it is unlikely that 80% capacity F-16 A/B’s will not be a match for new Russian inspired and supported Chinese J series fighter craft.
- This move, especially by declaring that it would not purchase fighter jets for the next 20 years (!!), hamstrings future administrations that might be more interested in investing in Taiwan’s defence. First of all, since each Presidential term is four years, the MoD under the KMT have tried to determine the defence procurement policy for the next five administrations - a move that is inherently antidemocratic. Secondly, this move means that if a DPP or other administration did try to restart procurement talks, China would immediately be able to frame that as “escalation / arms race / provocation / cross-strait tension / hurt the feelings of the Great Chinese people” etc And we know that if that happened, once Washington and State were finally able to get off the phone from Zhongnanhai, they’d immediately call Taipei and complain about how the move was ‘unproductive’ and ‘not the direction we’re hoping cross-strait relations can take’ It will be Chen 2.0. So this policy announcement not only undermines Taiwan’s defence in the present and diminishes morale in the airforce but it robs a future opposition administration of freedom to determine and implement its own sovereign defence policy.
- By announcing to the entire world that they were in talks with US about buying missiles, the MoD have essentially guaranteed that the US won’t sell any because of pressure from China. The US has many many ‘interactions’ with the Taiwanese military that have been ongoing for decades but operate in the shadows because of the need to ‘fly under the radar’ re China. This move breaks that trust and will not please the Taiwan lobby in Washington who have lobbied for arms sales if only to secure contracts for mil. ind. firms back in their own states.
This is a catastrophically bad move which smacks of political influence rather than strategic planning. It smells like appeasement and laying the ground for suing for peace by making Taiwan, and Taiwanese, defenceless. I really wouldn’t be surprised if there were also electoral calculations made too - much easier to convince a population to continue a timid policy of cross-strait kow-tow and gradual self-annexation by re-electing the pro-China party when the population are convinced that the other choice would mean greater risk of conflict that they feel ever more exposed to and insecure about. In other words, rather than build Taiwan to negotiate from a position of strength, they are doing the exact opposite so as to reduce the options, narrow the amount of time Taiwanese can delay, and create the conditions for capitulation. I suspect this government is run by people who would rather be second-class in a Taiwan SAR than feel like foreigners in an independent Taiwan.