Reports: Taiwan wants fewer new F-16s from US

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Taiwan’s request for the new fighters has been a point of contention in U.S.-China relations, something that’s unlikely to change even with a smaller request.

Congress has been critical of the Obama administration’s unwillingness to sell Taiwan the new planes, however, and the House included the 66 F-16 fighters in its 2013 defense authorization bill that passed in May.

In April, the Obama administration said it was considering a change in policy toward selling the F-16C/Ds to Taiwan, leading Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to release a hold on a Pentagon nomination that he’d placed due to the F-16s.

Administration officials also acknowledged in a report that Taiwan’s fleet is inadequate to counter China in the Taiwan Strait.

The Taiwanese papers said the reduced F-16 request was due to budgetary constraints, but the Liberty Times also quoted a source suggesting that the reduction could also have been made so Taiwan could later purchase F-35 fighters instead.