|F-16 aircraft in flight|
Taiwan is committed to a full upgrade for its fleet of 145 F-16A/Bs, but may be hinting at a possible F-35 Joint Strike Fighter request in order to delay its acquisition of 66 F-16C/Ds as it faces budgetary constraints and a difficult political situation domestically.
The majority of the aircraft currently in service in Taiwan’s air force were acquired in the 1980s or early 1990s. With the ageing F-5Es to be decommissioned, and rumours that some Mirage-2000s — whose spare parts are increasingly costly — could suffer a similar fate soon, Taiwan has launched efforts to modernise its fleet through mid-life upgrades of the domestically-produced F-CK-1 Indigenous Defence Fighter (IDF) and US-made F-16A/Bs, along with possible new acquisitions.
A recent report commissioned by Lockheed Martin claimed that without new procurements, the number of serviceable aircraft in Taiwan’s air force would drop by 70 per cent by 2020, and by 50 per cent if new aircraft are acquired.
My article, published in the June issue of Jane’s International Defence Review, continues here (subscription required).