The National Interest
Date: January 19, 2016
By: Dave Majumdar
While much of the world was focused on Saturday’s election success of Tsai Ing-wen and what it might mean for cross-strait relations, another important development for Taiwan that directly impacts regional security slid by largely unnoticed.
It was reported late last week that Washington might offer Taipei surplus Boeing AV-8B Harrier II Plus strike aircraft as the U.S. Marine Corps retires the venerable jump-jets in favor the stealthy, supersonic F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. According to Defense News, the Harriers would be offered under the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program.
Taipei desperately wants Lockheed Martin’s stealthy, short takeoff, vertical landing F-35B—which is currently operational with the U.S. Marine Corps. But the United States is very unlikely to sell Taiwan the advanced supersonic stealth strike aircraft for fear of antagonizing Beijing—which regards the island as a breakaway province. Indeed, in previous years, the United States declined to sell Taipei new Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons, even though the island’s supporters in Washington had lobbied hard for the sale. Given the F-35’s offensive potential and the sensitive nature of its technology, the Pentagon is likely to be even more reticent about supplying Taiwan with the Joint Strike Fighter. [FULL STORY]