Wed, Feb 05, 2014 - Page 1 News List

F-16 fighter upgrade program in danger

MONEY WOES:Reports say the Pentagon’s budget for next year will not include the CAPES program under which Taiwan’s air force’s jets would receive new radar systems

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

However, he told the Taipei Times that it was still possible that the program could survive or that it may just be delayed.

“It would be a travesty — especially during the 35th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act — to allow Taiwan’s fighter upgrade program to become a casualty of American budget politics,” he said.

Fisher said that if the Pentagon dropped the program, it would undermine Washington’s credibility in Taipei, as well as erode other US alliances in Asia.

“After several years of testing, China has recently started producing the Chengdu J-10B for Chinese Air Force units,” he said.

The J-10B likely has an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, which is the same kind of technology that was meant to be added to Taiwan’s F-16A fighters, Fisher said.

AESA radar systems are also likely to be used by Shenyang’s new J-16 twin-seat strike fighter and by future versions of the Shenyang J-15 aircraft carrier fighter, he said, adding that an AESA radar-equipped fighter would have a decisive advantage.

If the F-16 upgrade program fails, the US should encourage and help Taiwan to establish new missile programs, Fisher said.

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