Answering some common questions on Taiwan’s request to purchase F-16V fighter jets from the United States.
The News Lens
By: the Editors at Illustrated Guide for Weapons and Tactics
The US military’s FMS process
The procurement of weapons is not your run of the mill transaction. There is a strict and official procedure that needs to be followed. If Taiwan is interested in a certain piece of equipment from the United States, for instance, it must first send an LOR (Letter of Request) for the P&A (Price and Availability) data. After the U.S. responds with the initial quote, Taiwan then has to produce a “Request for a LOA (Letter of Offer and Acceptance),” before the US officially sends out a “LOA.”
According to the regulations of the U.S. government’s FMS (Foreign Military Sales), in the first stage, the DOD does not have a definite time limit to respond to the buyer after they receive the “LOR.” However, in the second stage, after receiving the “Request for a LOA,” they need to make a decision on whether or not to sell within six months.
In the 40 years since the severance of Taiwan-U.S. diplomatic relations, the most significant military transaction was when President George H.W. Bush announced the sale of 150 F-16A/B jets in 1992 as he pushed for re-election. When his son, President George W. Bush, was in charge, the U.S. declared their willingness to sell submarines to Taiwan. However, after Taiwan sent out an “LOR,” the transaction was sunk to the bottom of the ocean due to some constraints enforced by the U.S. Department of State. Following that, Taiwan sent another LOR for the then newly developed F-16C/D fighter jets, but yet again, the order did not materialize.
Therefore, from the beginning of this century, throughout both the Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) governments, Taiwan has been pushing to upgrade its relationship with the U.S. to something similar to close-knit allies, so that Taiwan would be able to skip to the second stage of the process and directly propose a “Request for an LOA” instead, allowing the U.S. executive branch to simply respond before the given deadline. At the end of 2018, after many years of hard work, the U.S. finally agreed to move toward a “more normal foreign military sales relationship” with Taiwan.