Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Taiwan has been pressing for the more powerful F-16 C/Ds, saying it badly needs the weaponry as a bargaining chip against its former bitter rival China.
But the fate of a proposed arms deal remains uncertain, Wu said, amid speculation that it could jeopardise Washington's ties with Beijing.
"My understanding is that Washington does not say 'yes' or 'no'. The deal is still under Washington's evaluation," Wu said during a press conference in Taipei.
Wu said that "upgrading the F-16A/Bs is the more likely direction".
The US Congress in 1979 passed the Taiwan Relations Act requiring the United States to provide the island with defensive weapons.
A sale of F-16 C/Ds to Taiwan would be certain to ignite the anger of Beijing, which reacted furiously when the Barack Obama administration in January 2010 announced a 6.4-billion-dollar arms package for the self-governing island.
The package included Patriot missiles, Black Hawk helicopters, and equipment for Taiwan's F-16 fleet, but no submarines or new fighter jets.
A furious Beijing suspended military exchanges with Washington in response.
The backbone of Taiwan's air force consists of some 60 ageing F-5s, 126 Indigenous Defense Fighters (IDFs), 146 US-made F-16A/Bs and 56 French-made Mirage 2000-5s.
Ties with China have improved markedly since Beijing-friendly Ma Ying-jeou became Taiwan's president in 2008, but China still refuses to renounce the possibility of using force should the island declare independence.
March 30, 2011: HMS Cumberland is ready to move into the next phase of operations in Libya by enforcing the arms embargo under UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973.
The Royal Navy Type 22 frigate has been a key part of the UK's response to the crisis in Libya since the beginning of the troubles in February.
One way she is able to enforce the arms embargo is through her embarked Lynx helicopter which can search a wide area of the sea quickly to assess the activities of Libyan forces and search out any vessels which are in breach of the UN-sanctioned arms embargo on Libya.
The ship's Royal Marines and Royal Navy boarding parties have been honing their skills recently so they are ready to be deployed at minutes' notice if needed to conduct searches of suspect vessels stopped by the Type 22 frigate under the embargo.
The boarding teams can be deployed rapidly by sea boat or by fast-roping onto the deck of a suspect vessel from Cumberland's Lynx helicopter.
HMS Cumberland's Commanding Officer, Captain Steve Dainton, said:
"Cumberland is demonstrating her capability as a highly flexible asset, capable of enforcing the will of the international community. Over the last month, we have conducted three evacuation operations from Benghazi, conducted patrols off the coast and acted as an effective deterrent to Gaddafi's naval forces.
"Now we are ready to be involved in the next phase of the international operation to protect the civilians of Libya from further oppression. We, along with our NATO and international colleagues, will form a ring of steel around the Libyan coast to make sure that no embargoed goods are supplied to the Gaddafi regime by sea.
"We will also help to make sure that any aid shipments for victims of the regime's oppression do successfully make it through to their intended destination."