Taiwan gets first F-16 Viper, maintenance center planned
The first prototype of the F-16V series. Photo: Lockheed Martin Asia UnhedgedReal-time intel on what moves markets Taiwan gets first F-16 Viper, maintenance center planned
Taiwanese Air Force gets the first F-16V, the new baseline model of the supersonic multirole fighterOctober 22, 2018 5:50 PM (UTC+8)
The Taiwanese Air Force has just received the first revamped Lockheed Martin F-16 âViperâ jet fighter, with three more tipped to join the islandâs F-16 fleet by the end of the year.
The F-16V features retrofits and enhancements including an active electronically scanned array radar, a new modular mission co mputer and improvements to the cockpit with multi-target engagement capability.
The retrofitted fighters will have a helmet-mounted cue system, which can be linked to AIM-9X Sidewinder heat-seeking missiles and will enable pilots to actually see and shoot at targets.
The Taiwanese military is the first customer to get the F-16V after the self-governed island set aside NT$129.6 billion (US$4.2 billion) out of its tight defense budget to upgrade its existing 144 F-16A/B fighters to the latest configuration. The program will span five years until 2023, with 20 to 24 jets to be outfitted each year.
Taiwan bought its first F-16 in 1992 and the jets now make up the bulwark of the islandâs air force against threats from the Peopleâs Liberation Army on the opposite side of the Taiwan Strait.
The first F-16V received on Saturday underwent hardware and software upgrades in June, and was first spotted by aviation enthusiasts after it began flight tests in Texas at the end of August.
Revelations about the planeâs progress drew concern from the islandâs defense ministry and Lockheed Martin and were followed by an immediate probe to identify the leak, according to the Taipei Times.
The paper also noted that most of the F-16V jets would be repainted at the Shueishang air base in southern Chiayi county and the Sincheng base in Hualien county, with tight anti-espionage measures in place to keep the upgraded fighters away from Chinese spies.
Regional maintenance base also planned
Meanwhile, Taiwan also hopes that the creation of an indigenous center for F-16s will make the island a base for F-16 maintenance in the Asia-Pacific, as air forces in Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea and Singapore have considerable fleets of the supersonic multirole aircraft.
A defense official revealed that Taiwan and Lockheed Martin had agreed to prioritize the development of an indigenous depot-level maintenance and repair cen ter for F-16s. The aim would be to meet the F-16Vsâ maintenance needs, as opposed to shipping them back to the US for major repairs.
Taiwan in May began the initial evaluation for building an F-16 sustainment support center, with a total investment projected at US$500 million.
It is understood that Lockheed Martin will transfer aircraft logistical management techniques to the Chungshan Institute under Taiwanâs defense ministry for the F-16 maintenance center.
Read: F-16V to beef up Taiwanâs air defense against Chinaâs J-20The dailyReport Must-reads from across Asia - directly to your inbox continue readingSource: Google News Taiwan | Netizen 24 Taiwan