Taiwan Upgrades 18 F-16A/B to F-16V Standard

Taipei, Taiwan (GDC) — Eighteen 16A/B jet fighters belonging to Taiwan’s Air Force had been upgraded in the first 11 months of the year, under a joint Taiwan-United States program to help Taiwan boost its air defense capabilities and meet the needs of advanced warfare, the military said on Thursday.

The 18 upgraded F-16Vs (Block 20) are part of the 141 16A/B jet fighters Taiwan asked the U.S. to help modernize in 2011 under a NT$110 billion (US$3.8 billion) joint venture between Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC) and Lockheed Martin Corporation, the military said.

With 123 16A/Bs still to be modernized, the two companies are seeking to accelerate the pace of the project which has lagged behind schedule, in the hope of completing the transformation of all 141 aircraft by 2023, the military said.

In addition, delivery of 66 brand new F-16Vs (Block 70) that the Air Force purchased from the U.S. in a deal inked in 2019 is slated to be completed by 2026, after which the aircraft will be deployed at Zhi-Hang Air Base in Taitung County, it said.

At the same time, the two types of F-16Vs will be equipped with ALQ-184 electronic attack pods, instead of ALQ-131 FMS pods, based on a January 2012 legislative resolution stipulating that the Air Force “should procure the same equipment used by the U.S. Air Force to ensure consistency in weapons deployment and maintenance with the U.S. Air Force and to ensure government spending efficiency,” the military said.

The U.S. informed Taiwan in March that it had terminated the development of ALQ-131 FMS pods.

In addition, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced on Oct. 22 three arms sales packages to Taiwan, one of which is MS-110 Recce Pods to be installed in Taiwan’s F-16 fleet and related equipment with an estimated cost of US$367.2 million.

Taiwan and the U.S., meanwhile, are expected to sign a letter of acceptance by 2021, after which Taiwan will make a down payment to the U.S. and take delivery of MS-110 Recce Pods and related equipment between 2022 and 2024, the military said.

The MS-110 sensor, the next generation of the DB-110 airborne reconnaissance system developed by Collins Aerospace, provides advanced daytime and nighttime wide-area and long-range reconnaissance capability.

The MS-110 multi-spectral airborne reconnaissance system is an evolutionary advancement over the third generation DB-110 and provides multi-spectral detection capabilities, higher resolution and increased coverage, Collins Aerospace says on its website.

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