Faced with increased belligerent neighbor, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen welcome heightened military cooperation with the United States as she commissioned the first combat wing of F-16 fighters which have been upgraded with Washington’s help to bolster its defenses.
During a ceremony at an air base in Chiayi, Tsai Ing-wen witnessed the unveiling of the first squadron of the F-16V, its most advanced F-16s, underscoring Washington’s firm commitment to help defend Taiwan from Chinese aggression.
“I believe that as long as we adhere to the values of democracy and freedom, there will be more like-minded countries standing on the same front with us,” said Tsai Ing-wen.
The $3.96 billion (T$110 billion) upgrade of Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-16 for Taiwan is the latest example of military cooperation between the two countries.
Taiwan has been converting 141 F-16A/B jets into the F-16V type; while 64 of them have already been upgraded, it has ordered an additional 66 new F-16Vs, which have new avionics, weapons and radar systems to shoot down China’s J-20 stealth fighters.
The F-16Vs can carry Raytheon Technologies Corp’s advanced AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.
While the Taiwanese Air Force is well trained, it needs to boost numbers vis-à-vis the Chinese Air Force.
In 2019, the United States approved a $8 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, in a deal that would take Taiwan’s F-16 fleet to more than 200 fighters, the largest in Asia.
($1 = 27.7470 Taiwan dollars)