July 7, 2022

As tensions between China and Taiwan continue to rise, Taiwan commissioned its first combat wing of F-16 fighters upgraded with U.S. help to bolster the island’s defences.

According to reports, the first squadron of its most advanced F-16s, the F-16V, was unveiled wen at an air base in the southern Taiwanese city of Chiayi, thus affirming commitment of the Taiwan-U.S. partnership.

Continued Chinese and U.S. military exercises in the region have been raising fears of conflict touched off by a crisis over democratically-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own territory.

The top U.S. diplomat in Taiwan, Sandra Oudkirk present for the event, commented that they believe that as long as it adheres to the values of democracy and freedom, there will be more like-minded countries standing on the same front with Taiwan.

Taiwan and the United States do not have official diplomatic ties per se, however, it is the island’s main international sponsor and arms supplier.

The latest military cooperation between Washington and Taipei shows a T$110 billion ($3.96 billion) F-16 ugrade. This upgrade has been led by U.S aerospace manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp. and Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corp.

About the fighter jets –

Taiwan is reported to have been converting its 141 F-16A/B jets into the F-16V type. So far it has upgraded around 64 jets, and has additionally ordered 66 new F-16Vs. The new jets will have new avionics, weapons and radar systems, including its J-20 stealth fighter to better face down the Chinese air force.

The F-16Vs can carry Raytheon Technologies Corp’s advanced AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.

On Thursday’s event, the new fighter jet showed off their metal with combat take offs and landings, to a backdrop of dance music broadcast over the air base, flying low in formation above the runway.

President Tsai commented that as more F-16Vs entered service, the country’s defences would become stronger.

Earlier in 2019, the United States had approved an $8 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, a deal that would take the island’s F-16 fleet to more than 200 jets, the largest in Asia.

In return to U.S’ actions for selling arms to Taiwan, China retaliated by using sanctions on Lockheed Martin.