The Trump administration has approved a potential $8 billion deal with Taiwan for 66 new F-16 fighter jets, the State Department said on Tuesday. 

The proposed delivery of the upgraded F-16C/D Block 70 aircraft has received bipartisan support from Congress, while the deal is set to face opposition from China as the U.S. is set to continue trade negotiations with Beijing.

The Air Force’s F-16D fighter jet. Photo: Lockheed Martin.

 “The president approved the notice that went up to Capitol Hill on Thursday or Friday of last week so that we could move forward with these F-16 sales. These are deeply consistent with the arrangements, the historical relationship between the United States and China, the three communiques that layer on top of that,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a recent Fox News interview. “Our actions are consistent with past U.S. policy. We are simply following through on the commitments we’ve made to all of the parties.”

Congress was informally notified of the deal for the Lockheed Martin [LMT]-built fighter jets last week, with leaders from both the House and Senate foreign relations committees supporting the move to ensure Taiwan has a capability to “defend its sovereign airspace” (Defense Daily, Aug. 16). 

In addition to the F-16s, the deal also includes F110 General Electric [GE] engines, Link-16 systems, APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radars, M61 Vulcan 20mm guns and LAU-129 multi-purpose launchers.

Taiwan has also requested electronic warfare countermeasure systems and Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems with night vision devices.

Chinese government officials have previously noted such a sale would be met with criticism because the country considers Taiwan a territory.

The State Department in July approved a separate $2 billion arms deal with Taiwan, which included deals form Abrams tanks and Stinger missiles (Defense Daily, July 9). 

Taiwan currently operates a fleet of F-16 A/B aircraft.