Lockheed Martin wins $18mln government contract to service Taiwan F16s
Taiwan's F-16s will be serviced at Lockheed's Texas site and are expected to be completed by 2030.
The United States awarded military giant Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. an $18 million contract to service Taiwan's F-16 fighter jets, the US Department of Defense said in a press release on Thursday.
"Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a not-to-exceed price of $18,170,000 undefinitized contract action for F-16 Systems Program Office Foreign Military Sales (FMS) support," the release read.
"This contract involves FMS support to the Taiwan Air Force, and the requirement is for the Taiwan F-16 Block 20 Service Life Extension Program," it continued.
The work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and in Taiwan; it is expected to be completed by August 30, 2030.
Congress authorized earlier this year the White House to provide Taiwan with arms worth up to $1 billion under the Presidential Drawdown Authority.
On Wednesday, Washington approved a $500 million weapons sale to Taipei, including an Infrared Search and Track (IRST) system for F-16 fighter jets.
The State Department said the primary contractor would be Lockheed Martin, the producer of the F-16 combat aircraft.
"This proposed sale serves U.S. national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability," it said in a statement.
"The proposed sale will improve the recipient’s capability to meet current and future threats by contributing to the recipient’s abilities to defend its airspace, provide regional security, and increase interoperability with the United States through its F-16 program," it said.
China immediately slammed the move, calling it a violation of US commitments under its One China policy, as well as a number of relevant agreements in which Washington pledged not to support or push for Taipei's independence.
Beijing has repeatedly demanded that the United States stop arms sales to Taiwan, halt military and official contacts with the island, and respect the One China policy, which Washington claims it adheres to in contrast to its actions.
"This severely violates the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-U.S. joint communiques," Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters on Thursday. "China deplores and firmly opposes it."
Last month, Taiwanese Vice President William Lai made a provocative transit stop in the United States on his way to Paraguay, just a few months after President Tsai Ing-wen went to the US under similar transit claims and met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Beijing heavily denounced Lai's trip and declared its opposition to any form of visit by "Taiwan independence separatists" to the US.
"Lai stubbornly adheres to the separatist position of Taiwan independence and is a troublemaker through and through," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
The vice president, who is the front-runner to become Taiwan's next president, is a staunch supporter of the island's independence, and he is far more outspoken about the issue than Tsai.
In direct response to the event, China conducted extensive military exercises encircling the island over the weekend.