Wendell Minnick

Taiwan has announced cuts in its defense budget, making it tougher to upgrade its aging fleet of F-16’s, writes the Asia Sentinel. But defense analyst Wendell Minnick says the budget cuts are unlikely to influence the island’s security, or even the quality of its F-16’s.

The Asia Sentinel:

Wendell Minnick, the Taipei-based Asia bureau chief of the authoritative industry magazine Defense News said concerns that the budget cuts had grave repercussions for the island’s security must be taken with a pinch of salt. It’s not clear, he said, whether Taiwan’s aging F-16s could even handle the more powerful engines.

“If [the feasibility study finds it is] possible to fit them, Taiwan can then decide whether they want them or not.”

Taiwan, Minnick said, doesn’t have to buy everything immediately in the first budget plan. It can opt to procure missiles and other items at a later date.

“This is very normal. The budget announcement does not at all mean they can’t afford the whole package or they don’t want the whole package. Many of the items in the FMS [Foreign Military Sales] release were optional. Like a candy store where your mom tells you that you can get all the candy on the third row – but you can’t really afford it all at that moment or don’t see a need for it at that moment. You can come back later.”

Also in regards of the satellite-guided smart bombs, known as JDAMs, which would enable the F-16s to strike Chinese ports and coastal military installations without exposing themselves recklessly to PLA air defenses, Minnick says the Taiwanese “were offered three types of JDAMs, so they may not want all the types, or one or two types. Also, some in the US air force want foreign countries to buy a lot of a certain items because it lowers the overall price of it for themselves.”

More in Asia Sentinel

Wendell Minnick is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

Read more on Wendell Minnick and China’s defense issues at Storify.

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