Thursday, April 27, 2017

Risky Business

I'm in favor of close ties to Taiwan so they can defend their island democracy and keep China boxed inside the first island chain. But I would not sell Taiwan F-35s now.


Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) yesterday told a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the ministry would formally declare its intention to procure Lockheed Martin F-35 jets to US officials in July when Washington is expected to finalize its appointment of Taiwan affairs officials.

What will Taiwan fail to buy in order to purchase F-35B aircraft?

Sure, Taiwan is finally reacting to the threat from the mainland:

Military expenditures are targeted to rise to 3 percent of gross domestic product next year, up from about 2 percent this year, Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan said Thursday while presenting a report outlining Tsai’s first major security review since becoming president. Taiwan plans to develop indigenous ships, airplanes, weapons and unmanned aerial vehicles, he told lawmakers in Taipei.

While the one-year increase planned is impressive (going from 2% of GDP to 3%, putting Europeans to shame for their difficulty getting to 2%), this does not make up for many years of deficient spending.

I'd like to see the baseline spending north of 3% for a long time with any purchase of F-35s done with appropriations above that level.

My main reason for opposing the sale of our advanced F-35 is that I'm not sure that Taiwan could hold off a serious Chinese invasion. And I don't want the Chinese to capture intact Taiwanese F-35s when Taiwan goes down.

Keep defense spending higher for a while to reassure me that Taiwan takes their defense seriously without counting on American forces running the gauntlet to save Taiwan.

Then I'd consider a sale of F-35s.