20:13 GMT +324 February 2017
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    Taiwan is looking to buy U.S. "fifth-generation'' fighter jets featuring stealth and vertical takeoff capabilities, a Chinese daily reported on Thursday.

    BEIJING, March 26 (RIA Novosti) -- Taiwan is looking to buy U.S. "fifth-generation'' fighter jets featuring stealth and vertical takeoff capabilities, a Chinese daily reported on Thursday.

    "Taipei has plans to buy an F-35 modification with vertical takeoff to provide support to naval infantry operations," Jin Nian Jiancao said.

    It said there were two main reasons Taipei wanted to buy F-35s.

    "Firstly, the existing fleet of Taiwanese fighters can be easily destroyed with Russian-made S-300 surface-to-air missiles deployed in mainland China," it said. "Secondly, F-35s will make Taiwan less dependent on airfields in the event of an armed conflict between the two coasts of the Taiwan Strait."

    The fighter needs a runway of 300 meters or less to take off.

    Washington has yet to react to Taipei's request. Observers attribute the U.S. silence to fears of a critical reaction from Beijing. The U.S. has stalled on the island's request for 66 less advanced F-16s.

    Taiwan first expressed an interest in F-35s as early as 2006, according to Jane's Defence Weekly.

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