President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that three air force squadrons being commissioned and equipped with upgraded F-16s would enhance Taiwan’s modern warfare capabilities, describing it as a testament to the nation’s solid partnership with the US.
Tsai made the remarks at a commissioning ceremony for three F-16 combat squadrons in the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing based at the Chiayi Air Base.
The ceremony marked a new chapter in the history of the air force, a chapter significant in terms of Taipei’s relationship with Washington and the quality of the nation’s aerospace technology, Tsai said.
Photo: Johnson Lai, AP
With help from US-based Lockheed Martin Corp, the armed forces and state-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corp (漢翔航空) launched a program in 2016 to upgrade Taiwan’s F-16A/Bs to F-16Vs by equipping them with more advanced avionics and electronic warfare systems.
This cooperation between Taiwan and the US defense industry is further proof of how the two nations’ friendship has advanced and a testimony to solid promises made by close partners, Tsai added.
“As long as we continue to uphold the shared values of democracy and freedom, more like-minded countries will definitely join and stand with us along the same line,” Tsai said, adding that the upgraded jets also signified a major step forward for the domestic defense industry.
Photo: Reuters via the Presidential Office
More importantly, the enhanced stealth and long-range sensors of the F-16Vs would boost their combat capabilities in modern warfare settings, she said.
All of the nation’s F-16A/Bs are to be upgraded with more advanced avionics, including APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar, a helmet-mounted cueing system, and other flight management and electronic warfare systems.
On Wednesday, the air force said that 64 of the nation’s 141 F-16A/B jets have been upgraded to the new F-16V standards.
At yesterday’s commissioning ceremony, more than 15 fighter jets took part in aerial maneuvers, flying in formation, while an F-16V demonstration was held to highlight the upgraded fighter jets’ capabilities.
The nation’s Thunder Tigers aerobatic team also put on a performance to celebrate the occasion.
On the ground, the air force loaded 12 F-16Vs with AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles, AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles and GBU-10 Paveway high-explosive laser-guided bombs to showcase the fighter jets’ combat capabilities.
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