Taiwan: Fighter Pilot Shortage Sells F-35s (NSI News Source Info) September 4, 2008: The on-again/off-again U.S. sale of 66 late model F-16 fighters to Taiwan has hit another obstacle. Taiwanese Air Force officers are pointing out that a growing shortage of fighter pilots makes it a better strategy to wait a bit longer, and pay 50 percent more, to get F-35s instead of the F-16s (which would have cost about $75 million each).
Any new U.S. warplanes for Taiwan is strongly opposed by China. The U.S. justified its recent refusal to sell the jets by pointing out that a newly elected, more pro-China government, in Taiwan, diminished the threat of a Chinese invasion. It's also possible that the U.S. is rewarding China for help in negotiations with North Korea over the North Korean nuclear weapons program. Then again, whoever really knows, isn't talking. Meanwhile, Taiwan has put seven of its Mirage 2000 fighters into storage, because of a lack of spare parts to keep them flying.
Meanwhile, Taiwan will upgrade its current fighter fleet. Taiwan has a world class electronics industry, and can more easily import key electronics components, or military electronics.