Attrition: The Great Mirage Parts Shortage


November 11, 2009: Last year, Taiwan put seven of its Mirage 2000 fighters into storage, because of a lack of spare parts to keep them flying. Now, another nine Mirage 2000s are being put into storage, until French suppliers can catch up with the Taiwanese demand for spare parts. It's believed the French are stalling because of Chinese pressure. Taiwan needs the Mirage's operational, because these aircraft make up a substantial portion of their fighter force (140 F-16, 55 Mirage 2000, and 120 Ching-Kuo, which is sort of �F-16 Lite�).

The on-again/off-again U.S. sale of 66 late model F-16 fighters to Taiwan keeps hitting obstacles. Taiwanese Air Force officers are pointing out that a growing shortage of fighter pilots makes it a better strategy to wait a bit longer, and pay 50 percent more, to get F-35s instead of the F-16s (which would have cost about $75 million each).

Any new U.S. warplanes for Taiwan is strongly opposed by China. The U.S. justified its recent refusal to sell the jets by pointing out that a newly elected, more pro-China government, in Taiwan, diminished the threat of a Chinese invasion. It's also possible that the U.S. is rewarding China for help in negotiations with North Korea over the North Korean nuclear weapons program. Meanwhile, Taiwan will upgrade its current fighter fleet using its own resources. Taiwan has a world class electronics industry, and can more easily import key electronics components, or military electronics.



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