President Obama has decided to sell a new arms package to Taiwan that will likely include weapons and equipment to upgrade the island's F-16 jets, according to administration and congressional officials.
Congress will be briefed Friday on the arms package worth an estimated $4.2 billion, said officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. A formal announcement is expected soon.
"All we've been told is the president has made a decision, and I assume it will be for the F-16 A/B upgrade package," said a senior congressional aide close to the issue.
The president decided against selling Taiwan 66 new advanced F-16 C/D model aircraft, despite several requests from Taipei and Congress, the officials said.
The decision ends nearly two years of debate within the administration and Congress over whether to sell advanced strike aircraft.
The White House declined to comment.
Supporters of the sale say new F-16s, produced by Lockheed Martin, are needed to bolster Taiwan's defenses against China's growing air power and produce jobs for the U.S. aerospace industry.
China, which opposes U.S. arms sales, is expected to react harshly to the upgrade package. In the past, China's military cut off exchanges with the Pentagon in 2008 and last year following two announced arms packages.
The Obama administration has made its policy of seeking closer military ties with China a high priority, one reason that the president rejected new F-16s in the latest arms sales package, the officials said.