Taiwan has signed an agreement to purchase 66 F-16 jets from Lockheed Martin amid escalating tensions between the US and China.

As part of the $62bn deal, Taiwan will procure the latest generation of F-16s to boost its air power. The Pentagon also confirmed the deal without specifying the buyer.

According to a Bloomberg report, the deal marks the first sale of fighter aircraft to the Asian island, which China considers to be part of its territory since 1992 when the former US administration approved the sale of 150 F-16s to Taiwan.

The latest agreement comes a year after Taiwan received approval from Washington for the purchase.

After the potential deal was announced last year, China issued a strong response and said that the deal will violate the one-China principle.

During the past year, the relationship between the US and China further deteriorated over the Covid-19 pandemic, 5G technology, Hong Kong and trade impasse.

Lockheed Martin has an initial order of 90 F-16 jets, the delivery of which is scheduled for late 2026.

The remaining 24 aircraft will be delivered to Morocco.

The company is expected to assemble the jets at its new facility in Greenville, South Carolina, US.

The F-16s will be delivered to Taiwan and feature Northrop Grumman’s APG-83 fire control radar.

The technology will enable the aircraft to fire precision-guided munitions at greater distances.

Last month, the US approved a deal that involves upgrading Chile’s F-16 fleet.