Taiwan Just said No to the F-35 Stealth Fighter. What Now?

How should Taipei’s defense strategy evolve with respect to China? Here are some ideas.

The National Interest
Date: December 1, 2018
By Michael A. Hunzeker Alexander Lanoszka

Amidst the fallout from last week’s “ midterm” elections for city and county-level officials last week, news emerged that Taiwan will stop asking the United States to sell it the F-35. The decision could not have been easy for the Tsai administration, especially because the United States has long refused to sell the F-35 to Taiwan even as it readily sells it to Japan and South Korea. Nevertheless, it was the right move. The F-35’s costs vastly outweigh its benefits. It is provocative, expensive and—most important—ill suited to Taiwan’s defensive needs.

Scrapping the F-35 was an important first step. Still, the Tsai administration can and should do more to challenge longstanding orthodoxies about the best way to deter China.

Taiwan has long organized its defenses around a small inventory of expensive, high-end weapons. The Tsai administration has accelerated such efforts. Taiwan is now actively trying to build a tiny fleet of diesel submarines and seeking to buy ever more M1A2 main battle tanks . Despite a rhetorical commitment to asymmetry, Taiwan seems largely set on deterring Chinese aggression by threatening to go toe-to-toe with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the event of war.    [FULL  STORY]

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