The air force is to showcase its upgraded Indigenous Defense Fighters (IDF) on Jan. 16, after the Ching-kuo fighter jets have been armed with locally developed Wan Chien weapons systems.
Seventy-one out of more than 120 on-duty IDFs have been upgraded by state-run Aerospace Industrial Development Corp in an attempt to reinforce the decade-old jets’ air-to-ground combat capacity.
To take some of the burden off of the nation’s aging F-16 fleet, Wan Chien (which translates into “ten-thousand swords”) systems have been added to the IDFs, to give the fighter jets the capability of firing cluster bombs at a range of more than 200km.
The bombs can be launched from the air over the Taiwan Strait to target troop concentrations, defensive positions and harbors and airstrips in China, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said.
Lin said it took NT$3 billion (US$100.6 million) and several years to develop the Wan Chien system, which can carry up to 100 warheads and is capable of launching attacks from a distance.
So far, 40 of the fighters based in Tainan have been retrofitted to be able to launch the weapon, according to Lin’s office.
Another wing based in Taichung is going through the retrofitting process, with all fighters expected to be carrying the Wan Chien system by early 2017, the office said.