Taiwan Bolsters F-16 Fleet to Deter Chinese Threat

President Tsai Ing-wen praised the military cooperation between Taiwan and the United States as she commissioned the island’s first upgraded F-16s. The fighter jets, F-16V, were upgraded with U.S. help to support the island’s capability to defend itself from China.

Chinese and American military exercises in the region have raised concerns of a conflict in Taiwan, which is claimed by China as its own territory.

During the ceremony at an air base in Chiayi, Tsai said the project showed strong Taiwan-U.S. partnership as she unveiled Taiwan’s most advanced F-16s. Tsai also told that she believed there would be more countries at their side as long as they promoted values of democracy and freedom.

The upgrade, which costed almost $4 billion, was jointly led by Lockheed Martin and Aerospace Industrial Development Corp (AIDC) of Taiwan. The upgrade includes a total of 141 jets, 64 of which is completed. Taiwan ordered 66 more of its F-16s to be upgraded.

In 2019, The United States has approved the $8 billion sale of F-16s to Taiwan. The deal takes the island’s fleet of F-16s to more than 200, the largest in Asia.

China imposed sanctions on Lockheed Martin following the deal.

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