The US House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the US Congress, has approved a measure that would mandate the sale of 66 Lockheed Martin F-16C fighters to Taiwan.
The measure is part of the Defense Authorization bill, but it is not likely to survive when the bill reaches the US Senate. The provision was authored by Congresswoman Kay Granger, a Republican from Texas.
But the language does have some backing in the Senate.
"Today's result is encouraging," says Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas. "I look forward to continuing to work hand-in-hand with the administration and the Taiwanese government as we move forward in this joint effort to ensure Taiwan has the new American-made fighter jets it needs to defend itself," he adds.
The F-16 is made in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Obama administration had initially declined to sell new F-16s to Taiwan, but in recent months has said it may reconsider.
Previously in September 2011, the Obama administration had proposed modernizing Taiwan's existing F-16A fleet and bringing those aircraft up to the latest standards.
China, which considers Taiwan to be part of its territory, did not react well to that proposal according to a new US Department of Defense report.
"The PRC [People's Republic of China] postponed several events scheduled for the remainder of the year. Working-level contacts and high-level dialogue were maintained, and in December 2011, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy traveled to Beijing to participate in the annual US-China defense consultative talks," the report says. "Despite U.S. intent for a healthy, stable, reliable, and continuous military-to-military relationship, this aspect continues to lag behind other aspects of the broader bilateral relationship."
Source: Flight International