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US abandons plan to let Taiwan build anti-sub aircraft

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, DPA, Taipei

Tuesday, Mar 04, 2008, Page 1

The US has dropped plans to allow eight of the 12 P-3C anti-submarine

aircraft the nation plans to buy from the US be assembled in Taiwan, local

media reported yesterday.

The Chinese language United Daily News, quoting an unnamed military source,

said the US, taking advantage of the scrapping of Taiwan Goal -- an arms

firm that would have been in charge of the P-3C deal -- had withdrawn its

promise to let eight of the 12 aircraft be assembled in Taiwan.

The source said that under an industrial cooperation agreement signed in

December, the US agreed that four of the 12 P-3Cs would be made in the US,

while the remaining eight and a flight simulator, would be manufactured in


Other industrial cooperation items included the construction of a P-3C

maintenance center in Taiwan and transferring maintenance technology.

But after Taiwan announced the decision to disband the arms firm, the US

said that all 12 P-3Cs would be made in the US and that only maintenance

technology would be transferred.

The government secretly set up Taiwan Goal in January to conduct arms

purchases with foreign countries, but decided to scrap it after the

opposition accused members of the Democratic Progressive Party of seeking to

make personal gains from the firm.

It was not clear if the government would accept the US change to the

industrial cooperation agreement, which leaves the nation short-changed

because the US is not lowering the price of the P-3Cs.

The nation is seeking to buy 12 P-3Cs from Lockheed Martin as part of an

arms deal approved by US President George W. Bush in 2004. The deal also

includes the sale of eight conventional submarines and six batteries of the

PAC-3 anti-missile defense system.

In related news, the Ministry of National Defense yesterday appeared

unconcerned that a French company was preparing to sell crucial missile and

radar technology to Pakistan, a move that could compromise the nation's

defense capabilities.

The Associated Press reported last week that the French state arms export

agency was preparing to sell MICA air-to-air missiles and Thales RC400

radars to Pakistan for use on its JF-17 fighter jets, a plane being jointly

developed with China.

In a letter to the Taipei Times printed today, a defense correspondent with

Jane's Information Group, Reuben Johnson, alleges that the technology could

fall into Chinese hands and render Taiwan's Mirage 2000 aircraft useless.

Ministry spokeswoman Chih Yu-lan (池玉蘭) told the Taipei Times that France

signed a confidential contract with Taiwan when it sold Mirage fighters to

the country in 1992.

She said that Taiwan's Mirage 2000 fighters would retain their effectiveness

because while France might help other countries develop military technology,

the confidential technology used in the Mirage 2000 systems would be not be

leaked under the contract.

Wendell Minnick, Asia bureau chief for Defense News magazine, said the news

was just "another example of China gaining access to technology through the


Additional reporting by Rich Chang and staff writer

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