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Taiwan boosts domestic defence with flight of new jet trainer | News

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Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has overseen the first public test flight of a new domestically-designed and made advanced jet trainer on Monday, part of her government’s plan to boost defences in the face of a growing challenge from China.

Taiwan’s armed forces are mostly equipped by the United States, but Tsai has made the development of an advanced home-grown defence industry a priority, especially as China, which claims the island as its own, steps up military modernisation efforts.

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The new AT-5 Brave Eagle, made by state-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corp with a budget of 68.6 billion Taiwan dollars ($2.32bn), is the first jet made domestically since the F-CK-1 Ching-kuo fighter, which was rolled out more than three decades ago.

Speaking at an airbase in the central city of Taichung, Tsai said the new aircraft disproved critics who thought Taiwan lacked the technology and should focus on meeting its defence needs from abroad.

Taiwan

Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen watched the formal presentation of the new jet trainer. She is keen to enhance Taiwan’s defence capabilities as China becomes more assertive [Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA]

“The new trainer aircraft not only has created more than 2,000 job opportunities, but will also pass on experiences and cultivate a new generation of aerospace industry technical talent,” she said.

Chinese presence

The single AT-5, flanked by a Ching-kuo fighter, made a 12-minute flight in front of Tsai. Its first official test flight was earlier this month, less than a year after the prototype was unveiled.

The trainer can be equipped with weapons. Taiwan’s air force plans on buying 66 of the planes by 2026 to replace ageing AT-3 and F-5 training aircraft.

The test flight came amid a stepped-up Chinese military presence near the democratic island.

Taiwan says China’s air force has flown near it at least seven times in the last two weeks, the latest on Sunday.

Taiwan unveiled its largest defence spending increase in more than a decade last year, and the government is also developing new, domestically-made submarines.


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Reuters news agency

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Biden nominates Iran nuclear deal negotiator to State Department | Politics News

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Wendy Sherman, Joe Biden’s nominee for deputy secretary of state, was key US negotiator of 2015 Iran nuclear accord.

United States President-elect Joe Biden has nominated a key negotiator of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement to be the US’s next deputy secretary of state, the second-highest position at the State Department.

In a statement on Saturday, Biden unveiled a string of State Department nominees, including longstanding diplomat Wendy Sherman to be deputy secretary of state.

Sherman, a professor and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, served as under secretary of state for political affairs for four years during Barack Obama’s administration, when Biden was vice president.

“She has successfully rallied the world to strengthen democracy and confront some of the biggest national security challenges of our time, including leading the U.S. negotiating team for the Iran Deal,” the statement said.

Biden, who will be inaugurated on January 20, has promised to return to the accord under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions.

President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018 as he pursued a “maximum pressure” strategy against the Iranian government.

The Trump administration has hit Tehran with a wide array of sanctions and tensions between the two countries have increased amid a torrent of hostile rhetoric and actions in the final weeks of the Republican president’s time in office.

In mid-December, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran was not necessarily “excited” for Biden to take office, but that it was “very happy” to see Trump’s presidency end. “We are not very excited with Biden coming, but we are very happy with Trump going,” Rouhani said.

Meanwhile, Biden on Saturday also nominated Victoria Nuland, a retired career foreign service officer who was the top US diplomat for Europe, NATO ambassador and State Department spokeswoman, to be under secretary for political affairs.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on Tuesday for Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee to be secretary of state.



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