Report: Taiwan weighs gamechanger with purchase of U.S. F-35B stealth jetfighters

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In a major policy reversal, Taiwan’s defense officials have indicated they may forego further upgrades to their current F-16A/B fleet and instead purchase the next-generation F-35B stealth fighter, according to Taiwan’s China Times.

Lockheed Martin's F-35B stealth fighter.

Taiwan’s mainstay combat aircraft is the F-16A/B block 20. Taiwan currently has 145 such advanced aircraft in service.

However, with China’s rapid military modernization, especially its improvement in building combat aircraft, Taiwan’s F-16A/Bs have shown shortcomings.

The Obama administration’s solution is not to sell Taiwan the newer and more advanced F-16C/Ds for fear of offending China, but to upgrade the existing F-16A/Bs.

But Taiwan military authorities have not given up on lobbying for the purchase of the F-16C/Ds from Washington.

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