Friday, March 26, 2021

Taiwan Upgrades Fighter Jets As Tensions Rise With China

Taiwan’s Upgraded F-16V Fighter Jets Poised To Start Standing Alert Along The Taiwan Strait
Taiwan, the first operator of upgraded F-16V fighter jets, has reportedly declared an initial combat capability for the aircraft and has already begun actively training with them. The upgrade program is now well underway, with more than 22 modernized F-16Vs said to have been delivered to the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing at Chiayi Air Force Base in southwest Taiwan, where the jets are reportedly close to being placed on active alert duty, ready to intercept potential threats to the island.

According to a recent report from Taiwan’s NOWNews, officials from the country’s air force, which is officially called the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF), have said they will host a ceremony later this month to mark the introduction of the F-16V into service. That ceremony is scheduled to be attended by President Tsai Ing-wen, but in the meantime, the F-16V has already been deemed ready for limited combat operations. It is a significant step toward the modernization of the ROCAF, the F-16 being by far the most capable fighter asset in its current inventory and helping the far smaller air force to keep technological pace with Beijing’s own rapidly developing airpower capabilities.

The importance of airpower assets to patrol Taiwan’s ADIZ is reflected by the recent intense activity here, including a notable uptick in Chinese military aviation movements in this area of the northern end of the South China Sea just earlier this year. The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense announced that eight Chinese aircraft, including fighter jets, maritime patrol, and surveillance types, had flown into the southwestern corner of the ADIZ in a two-day period, from January 31 to February, an episode that you can read more about here.

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