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The Taiwanese military confirmed Tuesday that it was setting aside funds for the purchase of a fleet of US-made F-16 fighters, a deal that has angered Beijing.
"The budget for F-16s has been budgeted in the next fiscal year," said vice defense minister Vice Admiral Kao Kuang-chi at a press conference to unveil the 2006 National Defense Report.
Kao offered no details of the deal, but local newspapers have said Taiwan is planning to replace its outmoded F-5 fleet with 66 F-16C/D Block 52s at a cost of at least 100 billion Taiwan dollars (3.1 billion US).
Taiwan's cabinet last week approved a draft bill proposed by the defense ministry calling for 323.5 billion Taiwan dollars in spending next year, a rise of 71 billion dollars, or 28.1 percent, from the current year.
Taiwan's 2006 National Defense Report warned of the threat from Beijing and called for the the purchase of eight conventional submarines, 12 P-3C submarine-hunting aircraft, and six PAC-3 Patriot anti-missile systems for around 340 billion Taiwan dollars (10.8 billion US).