Thursday, February 06, 2014

Turbulence ahead for Taiwan’s F-16 upgrade program?

Initial reports said the US Air Force’s budget decisions have thrown a wrench in Taiwan’s air force modernization program, but sources now say the program remains on track

Already denied F-16C/D combat aircraft it has sought to acquire for years, Taiwan could now be the unintended victim of “very tough” budgetary decisions by the U.S. Air Force that run the risk of derailing a $5.3 billion retrofit program for the island’s 146 F-16A/B aircraft, according to recent reports that are now being disputed.

Articles published earlier this week citing unnamed U.S. Air Force sources have claimed that the Pentagon’s FY 2015 budget proposal, to be submitted to Congress on March 4, could cut funding for a planned combat avionics programmed extension suite (CAPES) for 300 USAF F-16C/D aircraft and instead allocate funds for a less ambitious service-life extension program (SLEP).

Sources say that the move, which reportedly has received support from some members of the USAF who favor larger allocations of money for fifth-generation aircraft, could delay or perhaps even derail the planned upgrade of Taiwan’s 146 F-16s (and possibly 60 F-16s in the Singaporean Air Force), which stood to benefit from the economy of scale generated by the CAPES program.

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here. (Photo by the author)

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