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Taiwan Unveils New F-16V Aircraft With An Eye On China

2021-11-19T19:58:05.160Z

Taiwan showed off its latest military equipment: F-16V jets that would be at the center of the island's defense in the event of an attack from China.



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(CNN) -

Taiwan on Thursday showed off its latest military equipment: upgraded F-16 fighters that would be at the center of the island's defense in the event of an airstrike from China.

F-16s took to the skies at Chiayi Air Base, on the island's southwest coast, as pilots conducted aerial maneuvers to demonstrate the capabilities of the first squadron of US-made F-16V, or Viper, fighter jets.

  • They warn that China and other Asian countries are intensifying their arms race

The planes were upgraded from older F-16A / B fighters, originally purchased by Taiwan in the 1990s, and are equipped with advanced radar systems and new mission computers, according to the official Central News Agency (CNA). .

Taiwan plans to upgrade 141 fighters to the new version by 2023, it added.

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

A new US-made F-16V fires flares during the annual Han Kuang military exercises in Taichung on July 16, 2020. (Credit: Sam Yeh / AFP) (Photo by SAM YEH / AFP via Getty Images)

Taiwan has also purchased 66 new F-16Vs from US manufacturer Lockheed Martin, with delivery expected to begin in 2023, CNA reported.

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More than two dozen F-16Vs were exposed at the Chiayi base on Thursday.

The "friendship" between Taiwan and the United States

During the handover ceremony, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said that the formation of a new F-16V fighter wing has demonstrated the deepening of friendship between the island and the United States.

"The Lockheed Martin team has been very helpful to us in completing the upgrade," he said.

"This not only signals the further progress of the friendship between Taiwan and the US, but also represents a firm commitment to the relations between the two countries."

The ruling Communist Party of China has stepped up its military pressure on Taiwan, including sending 150 warplanes near the island in just five days, in October, prompting Taipei to issue radio alerts and deploy missile defense systems. aerial to monitor activity.

When the sale of the 66 jets to Taiwan was announced last year, analysts said they would provide a competent aircraft to compete with those in China, while boosting the morale of the island's fighter pilots.

An American-made F-16 from Taiwan on January 23, 2013. This is an older version but similar to the one unveiled on Thursday.

(Credit: SAM YEH / AFP via Getty Images)

"Small, agile and easy to pilot"

"It is a very capable aircraft. It is small, agile and easy to fly. Pilots love it," said Drew Thompson, visiting principal investigator at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

He noted that the fighter can perform many functions, such as launching missiles against ships or eliminating enemy radars, as well as in air-to-air engagements.

  • Everything you need to know about the dispute between Taiwan and China

Australian military analyst Peter Layton of the Griffith Asia Institute said last year that the sale of the F-16 could help stabilize the situation in Taiwan, at least from a military point of view.

"The sale will serve to broadly maintain the air combat balance" between the Taiwanese (ROCAF) and Chinese (PLAAF) air forces, Layton said.

"The PLAAF has many more air combat aircraft than the ROCAF, but in a conflict the ROCAF will be defending and the PLAAF attacking. The difference in functions and the fact that the ROCAF will operate over its own airfields compensates for the difference in numbers." said.

Taiwan warns: China would be ready for invasion in 2025 2:51

"The additional F-16s will just hold the balance until the early 2030s," Layton said.

Beijing does not rule out the use of force

Communist authorities in China have refused to rule out the use of force to take over Taiwan even though they have never ruled it.

The democratic island has its own Government and Army since the end of the Chinese Civil War, more than seven decades ago.

US military sales to Taiwan are authorized by the Taiwan Relations Act, 1979, provided they are "defensive in nature."

The law was enacted after Washington established diplomatic relations with Beijing with the warning that Taiwan's future would be determined by peaceful means.

The Taiwan issue was high on the agenda of the virtual summit held on Monday by US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

In the talks, Biden raised concerns about Beijing's behavior in the region.

While he reaffirmed the US "one China" policy - which recognizes Beijing's claim to sovereignty but allows for US defense ties with Taiwan - he expressed concern that China's actions are destabilizing the region.

China escalates tension with Taiwan with warplanes 2:38

According to a reading of the Chinese Foreign Ministry meeting, Xi blamed the rising tensions in the Taiwan Straits on what he called Taipei's attempt to "lean on the US for independence" and on "the intention of some Americans to use Taiwan to contain China. "

In her speech 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 take to the skies to intercept and expel intruders. This has demonstrated our determination to defend our airspace."

"I believe that as long as we continue to defend our free and democratic values, more countries with similar ideals will join us," Tsai added.

China Taiwan

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2021-11-19

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