The on-again/off-again U.S. sale
of 66 late model F-16 fighters to Taiwan has hit another obstacle. 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. Then again,
whoever really knows, isn't talking. Meanwhile, Taiwan has put seven of its
Mirage 2000 fighters into storage, because of a lack of spare parts to keep
Taiwan will upgrade its current fighter fleet. Taiwan has a world class
electronics industry, and can more easily import key electronics components, or