Taiwan launches new F-16V fighter jets amid Chinese military threats


T-Taiwan’s first U.S.-made F-16V or Viper fighter jets explode in the air at Xiaoi airport on the island’s southwest coast as pilots perform aerial maneuvers to demonstrate their capabilities.

The aircraft were upgraded from older F-16A / B fighter jets, originally purchased by Taiwan in the 1990s and fitted with advanced radar systems and new mission systems, according to the official Central News Agency (CNA). The island has plans to upgrade 141 fighter jets to the new version by 2023.

The upgrade has already been made to more than 60 F-16s, Deputy Defense Minister Wang Xin-Lung told the Taiwanese parliament on Wednesday.

More than two dozen F-16Vs were on display at the Xiaoi site on Thursday.

During the inauguration ceremony, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said the creation of the new F-16V combat unit demonstrated the deep friendship between the island and the United States.

“The Lockheed Martin team has provided us with a lot of assistance to complete the upgrade,” he said. “This not only signifies the further development of Taiwan-US friendship, but also reflects a firm commitment to Taiwan-US relations.”

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Beijing’s ruling Communist Party has stepped up its military pressure on Taiwan, prompting it to issue radio alerts and deploy air defense missile systems to monitor the operation, including sending 150 warplanes near the island in five days in October.

When it was announced last year that 66 jets would be sold to Taiwan, analysts said it would provide an efficient aircraft to compete with China, while boosting morale among the island’s fighter pilots.

“This is a very efficient aircraft. It is small, fast and easy to fly,” said Drew Thompson, a senior researcher at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

He noted that fighter aircraft can operate in a number of roles, including launching missiles at ships, taking out enemy radar and air-to-air collisions.

Peter Layton, an Australian military analyst at the Griffith Asia Institute, said last year’s F-16 sale would help stabilize the Taiwan situation at least from a military standpoint.

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Layton said sales between the Taiwanese (ROCAF) and Chinese (PLAAF) air forces would “broadly maintain the air war balance”.

“PLAAF has significantly more fighter aircraft than ROCAF, but ROCAF will defend and attack PLAAF in a collision. he said.

“The extra F-16s will be in balance by the beginning of the 2030s,” Layton said.

Communist officials in Beijing have refused to rule out the use of force, even though they have never ruled Taiwan. Democratic Island has had its own government and military since the end of the Chinese Civil War seven decades ago.

US military sales to Taiwan are authorized under the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 as long as they are “defensive”. The law was signed after Washington established diplomatic relations with Beijing, warning that Taiwan’s future would be decided in a peaceful way.

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Taiwan’s headline was high on the agenda during a virtual summit between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday.

During the talks, Biden raised his concerns about Beijing’s behavior in the region. He reaffirmed the US “One China” policy, which recognizes Beijing’s sovereignty, but allows US security ties with Taiwan, and expressed concern that China’s actions could destabilize the region.

According to a meeting of China’s Foreign Ministry, Xi blamed rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait for Taipei’s attempt to “rely on the United States for independence” and “the intention of some Americans to use Taiwan to control China.” . “

In his speech on Thursday, Taiwanese President Tsai thanked the Air Force for working “day and night” to protect Taiwan.

“Regardless of any intrusion, (our air force) can immediately go into the sky to intercept and expel intruders. This shows our commitment to protecting our airspace.”

“As long as we continue to defend our independent and democratic values, I hope that many nations with similar ideals will stand by us,” he added.

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