* Sen. Cornyn says Taipei seems to waver on new F-16 jets
* Taiwan has standing request for as many as 66 new F-16s
* Some Taiwan officials show interest in radar-evading F-35
By Jim Wolf
WASHINGTON, Feb 11 The U.S. senator leading a
drive to persuade President Barack Obama to disregard Beijing's
concerns and sell new F-16 fighters to Taiwan faulted the island
for what he said was a failure to push hard enough for the
"When it comes to Taiwan's military capabilities, there
seems to be a puzzling sense of complacency in Taipei," said
Senator John Cornyn.
Cornyn, a Texas Republican, is responsible for rounding up
his party's votes in the Senate. He has sought to force the
Obama administration to sell Taiwan the 66 F-16C/D models it has
sought in the past. The planes are produced at a Fort Worth,
Texas, plant by Lockheed Martin Corp.
Cornyn voiced disappointment that Taiwan "seems to have
backed off of its pursuit for new F-16s." Taipei has agreed to a
U.S. offer to upgrade its fleet of 145 older-model F-16 fighters
as part of a projected $3.7 billion deal.
"Without aggressive and consistent advocacy by Taiwan for
its own interests, it will be nearly impossible for its friends
in Congress to push through the sale of F-16s or other advanced
weapons," he said in remarks read in his absence at a panel
discussion Friday at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative
The office that represents Taiwan's interests in Washington
did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations have held
off on Taiwan's standing request for new F-16s amid warnings
from China, which deems the self-ruling island a rogue province
subject to return to its fold, by force if necessary.
Taipei must find the political will to boost Taiwan's
defense budget, Cornyn said in his statement. He said it had
been cut each year from 2009 through 2011.
"Taiwan's leaders also need to stop allowing themselves to
be bullied by the Obama Administration," he said.
Some Taiwan officials have shown interest in leapfrogging
the F-16C/D models to buy Lockheed Martin's next-generation,
radar-evading F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The F-35 is in early
Cornyn has used his senatorial powers twice in past two
years to delay consideration of Obama's nominees for senior jobs
at the U.S. State Department and Defense Department in an effort
to push the sale of new F-16s.