Sat, Oct 26, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Legislature to approve F-16V proposal

SUPPLEMENTARY ITEMS:Lawmakers agreed to calls to ask Washington to transfer technologies to produce components, as well as to establish a maintenance center

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

An F-16V jet lands on a runway in Changhua County during the Han Kuang military exercises on May 28.

Photo: Tu Chu-min, Taipei Times

The Legislative Yuan on Tuesday is expected to pass a special bill governing the procurement of 66 F-16Vs from the US.

Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) on Thursday called a round of cross-caucus talks over the “bill for the procurement of updated fighter jets.”

Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) told the meeting that the military had received a letter of acceptance from Washington for the procurement package.

The nation would receive the first batch of F-16Vs in 2023 and all 66 jets before the end of 2026, Yen said.

The procurement plan covers the acquisition of the jets and their equipment, as well as the acquisition, maintenance, development and manufacture of ancillary systems, the proposed legislation says.

The expenditure is to be covered by a special budget of up to NT$250 billion (US$8.17 billion) from loans and revenue surplus from the previous fiscal year, the proposal says.

The bill has a Dec. 31, 2026, deadline.

None of the four caucuses objected to the bill’s six draft articles.

Lawmakers also agreed on draft supplementary resolutions sponsored by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the New Power Party (NPP) and the People First Party (PFP).

The KMT’s motion says that as the National Defense Industry Development Act (國防產業發展條例) was passed in June, the Ministry of National Defense should ask the US to transfer technologies employed in the manufacture of F-16V parts and components.

The nation should establish an “F-16V Asian maintenance center” after the jets have been delivered, the motion says.

The NPP’s motion says that the ministry should report annually to the Legislative Yuan’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee on the progress of delivery of the jets, technological collaborations with the US and logistics to receive the jets.

The PFP’s motion says that the ministry should negotiate with the US to allow Taiwan to manufacture hydraulic and environmental control systems used in F-16Vs, which the nation is capable of servicing, to further boost the nation’s aeronautic capabilities.

The F-16Vs are expected to be deployed at Chihhang Air Base in Taitung County, while the air force plans to set up a combat squad of up to 1,000 personnel, military sources said.

F-16Vs are equipped with an active electronically scanned array radar system, upgraded avionics, and a high-volume, high-speed data bus, among other things, the sources said.

In 2016, the air force announced a NT$110 billion program to have its existing fleet of 142 F-16A/B jets upgraded to the same specifications as the F-16V, with the work expected to be completed by 2022.

The first four F-16s retrofitted by state-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corp have completed combat flight testing.

Additional reporting by CNA

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