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Taiwan Shoots Down Reports About Leasing F-15 Eagles

© AP Photo / he Courier-Journal, Sam Upshaw / A group of F-15 Eagles. (File)
A group of F-15 Eagles. (File) - Sputnik International
The Taiwanese Defense Ministry has categorically rejected the notion that Taipei might lease F-15 Eagles from the US Air Force as tensions simmer between Washington and Beijing.

Taiwanese Major General Chen Chung-chi dismissed the lease proposal as "pure speculation by the media," the Taipei Times reported Wednesday.

Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning cruises for a test in the sea (File photo) - Sputnik International
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The Up Times first reported on Monday that the USAF might offer the F-15 to Taiwan's air force amid warnings from Chinese President Xi Jinping that any attempts at secession or independence by the island were "doomed to fail."

Taipei reportedly also wants to buy fifth-generation F-35 aircraft from the US. US President Donald Trump has been willing to antagonize China with tariffs and the recent signing of the Taiwan Travel Act, but supplying Taipei with F-35s is a boundary even Trump seems unwilling to cross.

Beijing has long considered Taipei a wayward province belonging to the People's Republic of China, but the island is de facto self-governing for the better part of a century. Since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen assumed office in May 2016, Beijing-Taipei relations have deteriorated, the Diplomat reported.

Soldiers of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China arrive on their armoured vehicles at Tiananmen Square during the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, China, September 3, 2015. - Sputnik International
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The Taiwanese air force, officially known as the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF), consists primarily of Dassault Mirage 2000 fighters, F-5 Tiger IIs, F-16 Block A and Block B aircraft, and domestically produced F-CK-1 Ching-kuo jets.

Taiwan and Lockheed Martin partnered together in early 2017 on a multibillion dollar deal to begin upgrading Taiwan's fleet of 144 F-16A/Bs into F-16V variants.

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