The potential sales comes midst rising tensions with China.
In an official notification to the U.S. Congress, the U.S. State Department stated, it has approved the potential sales of F-16 fighter aircraft, worth $8 billion, to Taiwan. The information was disclosed by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
The potential sale is for 66 aircraft, 75 General Electric Co engines, as well as other systems, said the Defense Security Cooperation Agency in a statement, while adding that the sale is in the interest of the United States and will help Taiwan maintain a credible defense.
China has denounced the potential sale to Taiwan, which it considers as a renegade province. Beijing has warned of unspecified “countermeasures.”
The potential sale has been welcomed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch.
“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,” said Risch in a statement.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has welcomed the potential sale saying it would build a new air force and boost its air defense capacity.
In a post on Facebook, Tsai said she was grateful for Washington’s “continuous support for Taiwan’s national defense”.
“With strong self-defense capacity, Taiwan will certainly be more confident to ensure the cross-strait and regional peace and stability while facing security challenges,” said Tsai Ing-wen.
Incidentally, Taiwan has boosted its defense spending, its biggest increase in a decade, midst rising military tensions with China.