Taiwan’s Air Force has already upgraded 42 F-16 A/B jet fighters to the new F-16V standard, and it is aiming to complete all 141 planned upgrades by 2023.
As part of a $3.8 billion military modernization project launched in 2016, the Air Force is upgrading all of its F-16 A/Bs to the F-16V variant, which is equipped with more advanced avionics, including the Helmet Mounted Cueing System, APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar, and other electronic warfare systems. The work is being undertaken by U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin and Taiwan’s state-run Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation.
Speaking at the Legislative Yuan on Wednesday (March 17), Air Force Chief of Staff Huang Chih-wei said that the goal of upgrading all 141 of the country’s F-16 aircraft by 2023 remains achievable. He said that the F-16V fleet will enhance Taiwan’s defense capabilities with its ability to identify and target threats faster and from longer ranges in the country’s airspace.
Huang said the upgraded jets are ready for combat missions and that they will be used to safeguard Taiwan’s southwest airspace, along with the nation’s Indigenous Defense Fighters (IDF). He also mentioned that a ceremony will be held at the Chiayi Air Force Base on March 30 to mark the F-16Vs’ entry into service, which President Tsai Ing-wen is expected to attend.
Meanwhile, on the question of the Air Force’s operational expenses due to the increased “harassment” by China’s military, Huang said an additional NT$2.1 billion has been allocated for 2021, which “should be enough.”
In 2020, the Air Force spent NT$30 billion on its efforts to intercept China’s military planes that entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) , according to data provided by legislators.
In response to their questions on the issue, Huang said it costs roughly NT$150,000 per hour to deploy F-16s in such situations, NT$220,000 for AIDC F-CK-1s, and NT$200,000 for P-3C anti-submarine aircraft.
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