WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration formally notified Congress on Wednesday of a potential $5.3 billion upgrade of Taiwan's existing fleet of U.S.-built F-16 fighter jets despite China's opposition to such arms deals.
The "retrofit" of 145 Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 A/B aircraft will give them essentially the same capabilities as late-model F-16 C/Ds that Taiwan has sought to deter any attack, U.S. officials told reporters ahead of the notification.
Beijing deems Taiwan a renegade province subject to unification by force if necessary. It regards U.S. arms sales to the self-ruled island as the top obstacle to improved ties between the United States and China, now the world's two biggest economies.
(Reporting by Jim Wolf; editing by Anthony Boadle)