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Taiwan To Fortify Military With Stealth Fighters

International Business Times logo International Business Times 3/16/2017 Vishakha Sonawane

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After China announced it will hike its military budget this year, Taiwan is planning to boost its armed forces by purchasing stealth fighters and vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) aircraft, according to reports Thursday. This also follows the U.S. government’s reported assurance to Taiwan that it would provide the country with better weapons.

In its Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) released Thursday, Taiwan’s defense ministry noted that the country’s military needs stealth fighters to counter threats from China, Taiwan News daily reported. These will also be helpful in supporting the navy and ground forces, the report said, adding that that V/STOL aircraft will play an important role in quick response to possible threats to the country.

On Tuesday, the Washington Free Beacon reported citing Trump administration officials that the U.S. would provide more and better defensive arms to Taiwan, based on a $1 billion arms deal, which was canceled  in December by the National Security Council staff officials under the then President Barack Obama. However, it remains unclear whether the stealth fighters will be a part of the deal.

Taiwan is also looking to fortify its navy with two decommissioned frigates — USS Taylor and the USS Gary — purchased from the U.S. for about US$177.21 million, according to Taiwan News.

Taiwan, in the QDR, has also raised concerns over China’s military development near the disputed islands in the South China Sea.

"The recent activity of Chinese jets and ships around Taiwan shows the continued rise in (China's) military threat capabilities," the QDR said. "In addition to posing a military threat to our country, it also has a negative impact on regional stability."

"The country's military development and Taiwan's freedom and prosperity are the same living body," the QDR said.

China had laid claims to most of the South China Sea, through which over $5 trillion of maritime trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan also have conflicting claims to the South China Sea.

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