The Ministry of National Defense yesterday said that it has purchased four General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper drones from the US.
The drones would be handed over to Taiwan in the US in the second half of 2025 and their equipment would be delivered by the first half of 2027, Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said, adding that drone operators would undergo six months of training.
Chiu made the announcement while briefing the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee on the progress of the military’s procurement of fighter jets and weapons.
Lee Shih-chiang (李世強), head of the ministry’s Department of Strategic Planning, said the drones — which cost NT$21.7 billion (US$707.62 million) — would be delivered in pairs in two batches, adding that drone operators would be trained in the US.
“We originally hoped that the entire training process could be carried out in Taiwan, but the required training modules and venues cannot be fully replicated in Taiwan without incurring great cost,” he said.
The Reapers would give the military a significant combat advantage, as they would provide a data link allowing real-time information sharing with the US, he said, adding that this would create a collaborative combat environment and assist the US in making precision long-range strikes.
Meanwhile, Chiu said that Taiwan would not receive financial compensation for a nearly one-year delay in the delivery of F-16V jets purchased from the US.
Speaking with reporters on the sidelines the legislative meeting, Chiu said that the contract signed with Washington does not include financial penalties for late delivery.
However, the US has promised to provide F-16V spare parts and logistics accessories ahead of schedule due to the delay, Chiu said, without elaborating.
Chiu said that, for the time being, the air force needs to increase its fighter jet availability on its own.
In the meantime, the ministry would ask the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan’s defense mission in Washington and the American Institute in Taiwan to help speed up the jets’ delivery from Lockheed Martin, Chiu said.
Despite the delay, Taiwan is to receive all 66 fighter jets before the end of 2026 as scheduled, the defense ministry said.
In addition to the 66 new F-16Vs, Taiwan began a program in 2016 to retrofit all of its existing 140 F-16A/Bs into the more advanced F-16V format, which is expected to be completed later this year.
Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology president Art Chang (張忠誠) told lawmakers at the meeting that the institute is considering turning retired F-5 trainers into uncrewed aerial vehicles or target drones.
Taiwan has been building its own “Brave Eagle” advanced jet trainers to replace the aging F-5 jets.
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