FILE PHOTO: A F-16 fighter jet takes off during a military drill at Zhi-Hang Air Base in Taitung, Taiwan January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department has approved a possible $8 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said on Tuesday in an official notification to Congress.
The sale being considered would be for 66 aircraft, 75 General Electric Co engines, as well as other systems, the agency said in a statement. It said the sale serves U.S. national, economic and security interests and would help Taiwan maintain a credible defense.
China has already denounced the widely discussed sale, one of the biggest yet by the United States to Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province. It has warned of unspecified “countermeasures.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch, a Republican, has welcomed the proposed sale of the Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 jets.
“These fighters are critical to improving Taiwan’s ability to defend its sovereign airspace, which is under increasing pressure from the People’s Republic of China,” he said in a recent statement.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Monday that U.S. President Donald Trump notified Congress of the sale last week.
Pompeo told Fox News the sale was “consistent with past U.S. policy” and that the United States was “simply following through on the commitments we’ve made to all of the parties.”
Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Dan Grebler and Lisa Shumaker