Jan. 24 (UPI) — China’s continued pressure on Taiwan since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. President Donald Trump exchanged an unprecedented phone call is pushing Taipei to strengthen its defense capabilities.
Taiwan’s Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan said Monday research and development into next-generation fighter jets is positioned to become a top priority under Tsai, the Liberty Times and other local media reported Tuesday.
China’s aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, has recently sailed through the Taiwan Strait, and Beijing has issued warnings since Tsai was sworn in as president in May 2016.
A Taiwanese government agency, in charge of air force science and technology research, has been supervising the development of new fighter jets since Jan. 1, according to reports.
The next-generation fighter jets are to use the TFE-1042-70 engine, installed on the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-kuo fighter jet, also known as the Indigenous Defense Fighter.
Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology is to be in charge of the project.
Taiwan’s air force has previously stated it plans to modernize its fleet of 144 Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon jets, and is expected to spend more than $2 billion in order to purchase or develop more aircraft for flight training and other equipment. More details, however, have not been disclosed.
Feng also said Taiwan has made considerable progress in submarine development.