Taiwan signs deal with US for 66 F-16 jets while tensions with China ride high

A US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet, manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp.| Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Text Size:

Washington: Taiwan formally signed an agreement to buy 66 of the latest model F-16 jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp., a move likely to further inflame tensions between the U.S. and China.

Taiwan’s purchase of the F-16s marks the first sale of advanced fighter jets to the island since President George H.W. Bush announced approval for 150 F-16s in 1992. A $62 billion figure announced by the Pentagon on Friday is the upper limit of numerous contracts if all potential foreign customers placed their maximum desired number over the decade.

The move is likely to be denounced by Beijing, even though the U.S. first signaled its plans to approve the sale a year ago in an informal notification to Congress and it could still be years before the jets are delivered.

The announcement said that work on the 90 jets potentially to be sold under Friday’s announcement would be complete by late 2026.

Company officials have previously said they project a market for as many as 400 of the new F-16s.

When the planned sale was announced in August last year, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry told reporters that “U.S. arms sales to Taiwan severely violate the one-China principle.”

The spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said at the time that her government was urging the U.S. to “refrain” from selling the “fighter jets to Taiwan and stop arms sales to, and military contact with, Taiwan. Otherwise, the Chinese side will surely make strong reactions, and the U.S. will have to bear all the consequences.”

We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.

Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.