The upgrade of Taiwan’s fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16A/B fighter jets with new electronic countermeasures (ECM) pods has begun on a small scale, the air force said yesterday.
The upgrade is to improve the planes’ air-to-air and air-to-ground surveillance capabilities and combat capability to meet the needs of advanced warfare.
The fleet has 80 AN/ALQ-184(V) ECM pods and the air force has earmarked US$160 million to purchase 42 new ALQ-131A FMS pods that the US army has been developing to replace the old pods, but it would now only be able to buy 12 FMS pods for that budget due to increased research and development costs, the air force said.
Photo: Lo Tien-bin, Taipei Times
The air force plans to outfit the F-16 fleet with the new FMS pod, which can be integrated with the jets’ combat systems and fit with the air force’s logistical planning, it said.
Development and testing of the new pods have been completed and they are being produced in small batches, but further upgrades are possible, the air force added.
The procurement was in accordance with the Government Procurement Act (政府採購法), military procurement regulations and the US Department of Defense’s Security Assistance Management Manual, the air force said, denying local media reports that it plans to amortize the procurement expense over several fiscal years.
It said the upgrade is in accordance with a January 2012 legislative resolution stipulating that the air force “should procure the same equipment used by the US Air Force to ensure consistency in weapons deployment and maintenance with the US Air Force and to ensure government spending efficiency.”
In other news, the Web site of the National Security Bureau (NSB) has been hit by a rising number of cyberattacks since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) assumed office in May last year, according to a report.
The Web site experienced 17,659 cyberattacks over the first half of last year, the NSB said in a report included as part of its budget proposal for next year, which it has submitted to the Legislative Yuan for approval.
The figures for January to June last year almost exceeded the 19,826 attacks it withstood in the whole of 2015, the report said.
Hacking attempts have also risen sharply since Tsai assumed office on May 20 last year, it added.
The number of hacking attempts rose to 613,789 between July and December last year, or an average of 102,298 attempts per month, the report said, adding that this represented a sharp increase from previous years.
However, it said hacking attempts have gradually declined this year, dropping to 108,069 from January to June.
All attempts have been detected and successfully blocked, the bureau said in its budget proposal.
Although the bureau did not specify the origins of the attacks, they are suspected to mostly come from China, as the NSB is a major target for Chinese military and civilian hackers.
The bureau said it has continued to shore up its cyberdefense capabilities in the face of the attacks.
More personnel and resources have also been allocated to increase the agency’s digital counter-attack capabilities and to regularly update its computer security system, the bureau said.
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