Taiwan to buy stealth fighters to counter Chinese military build up

Indo Asian News Service

Taipei, March 16 (IANS) Taiwan's defence ministry is planning to buy stealth fighters and vertical take-off and landing aircraft to counter China's rapid military development, according to an official report issued on Thursday.

The island country will increase its military budget this year by 7 per cent to $147 billion to boost the purchase and development of its military equipment amid rising tensions with China, the Quadrennial Defence Review report said.

The plans need to be approved by US President Donald Trump, since Washington is practically the only supplier of advanced military equipment to Taiwan, Efe news quoted the report as saying.

Senior US officials had recently said that more and better defence weapons will be supplied to Taiwan, on the basis of a $1 billion arms sale package cancelled in December 2016 by former President Barack Obama.

The model Taiwan is seeking to buy is the F-35 Lightning - one of the Pentagon's most modern aircraft - in two variants: the F35A, which is invisible to radars, and the F35B, capable of vertical take-off and landing.

The defence ministry believes that China's aim remains to invade Taiwan, which requires a better military preparation and the purchase and development of more advanced equipment, such as missiles, submarines and warships, the report added.