Taiwan’s Aircraft Carrier Killer
9:00 AM, Sep 29, 2011 • By REUBEN F. JOHNSON
During the same week of the defense exposition showing of the HF-3, a delegation from the U.S. Department of Defense showed up here in Taipei to deliver bad news to the Tawain. The F-16 aircraft that Taiwan has been requesting to purchase since 2006 are not going to be sold to the island nation. Instead, the Republic of China Air Force will have to be content with a possible upgrade of its older F-16A/B model aircraft.
So while the U.S. is willing to sell technologically advanced fighter jets to Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, and other Asia-Pacific nations that feel threatened by China, Taiwan remains an unexplainable exception.
“We can see the U.S. abandoning its commitment to Taiwan,” said one senior U.S. defense industry executive told me. “It’s really criminal.” Another told me his peers all project that this is the last major blow before “Taiwan goes down the tubes.”
A NATO diplomat in Beijing told me last month that Washington does not understand the significance of what happens with Taiwan. “That little island is the line in the sand,” he said. Sadly, it is Taiwan with its carrier-killer missile that is daring China to cross that line—and not the U.S.
Reuben F. Johnson is an aerospace and defense writer based in Kiev.