Six Taiwanese F-16 jets flew back to Taiwan on Friday from a training mission at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona after a stopover in Honolulu, a military source said.
The F-16s arrived at Hualien Air Force Base in eastern Taiwan at about 3pm, a military official said.
Five of the six jets are single-seat F-16As, while the other is a twin-seat F-16B; four of the aircraft were piloted by Taiwanese air force pilots, the official said.
Photo: Yu Tai-lang, Taipei Times
No further details were given and the air force declined to comment.
The sources said that the six F-16s were among 10 F-16A/Bs that took part in a training mission with Luke Air Force Base’s 21st Fighter Squadron as part of a Taiwan-US training program that began in the 1990s when Taiwan purchased its first batch of the jets from the US.
The jets flew back to Taiwan to be upgraded to the more advanced F-16V format as part of a retrofitting project the air force launched in 2016.
The program involves retrofitting all 140 of Taiwan’s F-16A/Bs to F-16Vs, which are equipped with more advanced avionics, including APG-83 scalable agile beam radar, a helmet-mounted cueing system and other flight management and electronic warfare systems.
The return of the six fighter jets on Friday came just days after another military source told the Central News Agency earlier this week that an F-16 belonging to Taiwan’s air force made a hard landing at an airport in Honolulu due to a landing gear malfunction. No one was injured.
The source confirmed the emergency landing after Hawaiian media reported that the incident ocurred at about 2:45pm on Monday, followed by the temporary closure of a runway at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.
In Taipei, the Ministry of National Defense declined to comment on the report, but the source at the time said the jet was returning to Taiwan to be upgraded to F-16V configuration.
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