Advanced F-16 Sales To Taiwan – Ongoing Irritation or A “Red Line” for China?

As for late august 2019 it appears that a deal to sell 60 advanced F1-6 Block 70 fighters will receive US congressional approval and therefore become official. The US State Department has already signed off on the sale. Arms sales to Taiwan have been ongoing since 1979 when the Taiwan Relations Act that mandated US wepons sales to Taiwan was approved.

In the latest F-16 package, Taiwan will spend US$8 billion each for 60 aircraft and basic maintenance add-ons. Taiwan also flies 140 Block 20 F-16Vs that will receive an upgrade. The new Block 70 aircraft have advanced AESA radar similar to that used in the F-35 and the F-22.  The new equipment lets pilots track 20 targets at a time and offers high-resolution maps and all-weather targeting and a Center Pedestal Display (CPD) providing greater tactical imaging for pilots.

US arms sales have been an ongoing irritation to the PRC, which views the Taiwan question as an internal matter and has threatened to take military action should any Taiwan independence activity take place. The question is what action China will take about this proposed sale? Is this another in a series of “annoyances” or is this sale a real game changer vis-a-vis China/Taiwan/US relations? Please let us know your thoughts on this.


Photo: Lockheed Martin