The US will sell no fewer than 66 new F-16 C/D multirole fighter jets to Taiwan following the introduction of legislation by Senators John Cornyn and Robert Menendez.

The bill cited a report to justify the legislation as the sale “would generate some $8.7bn in output and more than 87,664 person-years of employment in the US,” including 23,407 direct jobs, while “economic benefits would likely be realised in 44 states and the District of Columbia.”

The act will be legally binding once passed, unless it is vetoed by President Barrack Obama.

Focus Taiwan quoted a statement from Cornyn’s office as saying, “This sale is a win-win, in strengthening the national security of our friend Taiwan as well as our own, and supporting tens of thousands of jobs in the US.”

In a statement Menendez said, “Providing the military resources Taiwan needs is in the vital security interest of Taiwan, the national security interest of the United States, and is compelled by the Taiwan Relations Act.

“Delaying the decision to sell F-16s to Taiwan could result in the closure of the F-16 production line, which would cost New Jersey 750 manufacturing jobs,” he added.

The sale of 66 F-16 C/Ds to Taiwan to modernise its air force and maintain its self-defence capability has been postponed, with the US offering upgrade to Taiwan’s existing F-16 A/Bs.