An agreement signed yesterday by a state-run aircraft builder and a US defense contractor to turn Taiwan into a maintenance hub for F-16 jets would be a good deal for both parties, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said.
Speaking at the ceremony where Taichung-based Aerospace Industrial Development Corp (AIDC, 漢翔航空) and Lockheed Martin Corp signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to set up the strategic alliance, Su praised the partnership, calling it a “win-win.”
“Our national defense needs air defense, air defenses need fighter jets, and fighter jets need maintenance, so the MOU paves the way for the two parties to establish an F-16 maintenance center in the future,” Su said.
AIDC has been working closely with Lockheed Martin so that the defense contractor can transfer more aerospace technology to Taiwan and allow more F-16 parts to be produced locally, before ultimately making the nation a regional hub for fighter jet repairs and overhauls, company chairman Hu Kai-hung (胡開宏) said.
AIDC has been authorized by the US company to produce 23 F-16 parts and it has 800 Lockheed Martin-certified technicians working on a project to retrofit F-16A/B jets with advanced technology, he said.
Taiwan could serve as an F-16 repair hub for the Asia-Pacific region because the nation’s air force has a fleet of 142 F-16A/B jets, AIDC said.
The company is focused on upgrading F-16/ABs into F-16Vs, AIDC president Ma Wan-june (馬萬鈞) said, without giving a timetable for when an F-16 maintenance center might be realized.
The upgrades are on schedule and should be completed by 2023, Ma said.
Lockheed Martin Global Pursuits vice president Randy Howard also attended the ceremony, which was held at AIDC’s headquarters in Taichung’s Shalu District (沙鹿).
AIDC built the first indigenous fighter jet — the F-CK-1 Ching-kuo Indigenous Defense Fighter — which has been employed in the nation’s air force since 1992.
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