The Obama administration has assembled an arms sales package to Taiwan that involves refurbishing the island’s existing fleet of F-16 fighter jets but doesn't include any new F-16s, according to congressional staffers who were told of the plan Friday.
If no new jets are sold, the decision will be seen as a victory by Beijing, which has opposed any arms sales to Taiwan, and will infuriate Taipei. It has pressed since 2006 to acquire newer, more sophisticated F-16s.
Obama administration officials and congressional staff say the president has not officially ruled out in the sale of new F-16s, but because those new jets are not included in the new arms package, it is seen as unlikely to be authorized by military analysts and members of Congress.
The U.S. offer to modernize Taiwan’s existing F-16s was widely expected and will likely be a bitter consolation prize for the island, which says it desperately needs the new planes in order to fortify an air force stocked with aging aircraft.