The United States is gazing for directions to potentially hasten the delivery of Taiwan’s following generation of new-build F-16 fighter jets, US officials said, strengthening the Taiwanese air force’s proficiency to react to what Washington and Taipei discern as boosting intimidation by China’s military. Taiwan’s government has personally affirmed its urge for faster delivery to US President Joe Biden’s government, a senior Taiwanese official said, as the self-ruled island’s air force hurries jets to intercept increasingly hostile Chinese military flight The F-16 is deemed a highly manoeuvrable aircraft proven in air-to-air battle and air-to-surface attacks.
Taiwan is on route to field one of the biggest F-16 fleets in Asia once it grabs delivery of 66 new-build F-16 C/D Block 70 aircraft under an $8bn agreement endorsed in 2019. It would fetch the island’s total number of F-16s, comprising older versions, to more than 200 by 2026.
The Block 70 aircraft are the freshest F-16 configuration, with modern avionics, a modernised cockpit and a better engine, according to Lockheed Martin.
Despite requiring formal diplomatic connections with Taiwan, the US is the island’s major international backer and arms supplier. That defence alliance outrages China, which has ramped up military and diplomatic burden against the island that it asserts as “sacred” Chinese territory.
In the face of Chinese tension, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has prioritized improving the armed forces, which are well-armed but hindered by China’s military.
The US sale of F-16s to Taiwan was directed by US law and “based on an inspection of Taiwan’s defence needs and the threat feigned by (China), as has been the case for additional 40 years”, a Pentagon spokesperson asserted in a statement.
The missions to thwart Chinese aircraft are formulating stress on Taiwan’s air force, which last year had various casualties, including three fatal crashes. Over the duration, fuel prices, pilot fatigue and wear and tear on Taiwanese aircraft will jeopardize the willingness of the island’s air force if this tension continues, Taiwanese and US military analysts announced.
Last March, a senior Taiwanese official told Taiwan’s military had halted precluding every Chinese aircraft.