Taiwan's Defense Ministry on Wednesday confirmed a U.S. agreement to upgrade the island's fleet of F-16 A/B warplanes.
In a late-night news conference, the ministry said the Obama administration had sent Congress notification that it wanted the F-16 A/B upgrade to go ahead. It was the first official confirmation of the deal.
The ministry insisted, however, that Taiwan's bid to purchase the more advanced F-16 C/D was still pending, and urged Washington to approve that deal.
Last Friday, two congressional aides privy to a classified briefing on the F-16 matter said administration officials had decided they were rejecting Taiwan's C/D request. They said the administration was agreeing instead to upgrade Taiwan's existing F-15 A/B planes.
Taiwan's request for 66 of the newer aircraft initially was submitted in 2006. The A/B upgrade request was made a year later.
On the A/B upgrade, the ministry said it included the AESA radar that Taiwan wanted. The system will provide the planes the ability to detect stealth aircraft, like the J-20 that China is developing.
It put the price tag for the entire project at $5.85 billion.