The United States has made a 10-year, $62 billion weapons deal with Taiwan for the sale of 90 F-16 fighters, the Agence France-Presse reported Tuesday.
The U.S. has long been Taiwan’s largest supplier of military weapons and the deal represents one of the largest in the nation’s history. The move is sure to anger China, which considers Taiwan to be under its domain. Under the contract, Lockheed Martin will produce 90 new-generation F-16s for sale to Taiwan. Taiwan last purchased a fleet of F-16s in 1992, according to the Asia Times.
While the Pentagon has announced the sale of 90 jets, it has not yet confirmed publicly that Taiwan is the buyer. The AFP has reported, however, that sources close to the deal have confirmed the buyer.
The U.S. government last year approved Taiwan for the purchase of 66 jets, but the new contract has been increased amid President Donald Trump’s increasing criticism of China.
Trump’s administration and countries across the world of criticized China for its mishandling of the coronavirus. Intelligence agencies in the U.S., U.K., and Germany found that China willfully suppressed information regarding the severity of the virus and the outbreak in Wuhan.
During the outbreak, China also banned travel out of Wuhan into the rest of China, but allowed travel to continue out of Wuhan to the rest of the world. (RELATED: Democratic Witness In House Coronavirus Hearing Pleaded Guilty In 2019 Sex Abuse Case)
The new F-16 jets have greater capability than those purchased in the 1992 sale, namely the addition of a state-of-the-art radar system that allows for guided missile strikes at longer distances, according to the Asian Times.
When the U.S. announced intentions to make the deal last year, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hua Chunying argued “U.S. arms sales to Taiwan severely violate the one-China principle.”
The U.S. officially recognized the People’s Republic of China as the “one China” in 1979, but has long assisted Taiwan, a Western-style democracy, with military and diplomatic aid.