Taiwan unveils new F-16V fighter jets amid army threats from China

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The F-16s screamed throughout the sky at Chiayi Air Base on the island’s southwestern coast as pilots carried out aerial maneuvers to display the capabilities of Taiwan’s first squadron of US-made F-16V, or Viper, fighter jets.

The planes have been upgraded from older F-16A/B fighter jets, initially acquired by Taiwan within the 1990s, and are geared up with superior radar programs and new mission computer systems, in keeping with the official Central Information Company (CNA). The island has plans to improve 141 fighters to the newer model by 2023, it added.

That improve has already been performed to greater than 60 F-16s, Vice Protection Minister Wang Hsin-lung instructed Taiwan’s Parliament on Wednesday.

Greater than two dozen of the F-16Vs have been on show on the Chiayi base on Thursday.

In the course of the commissioning ceremony, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen mentioned the formation of a brand new F-16V fight wing has demonstrated the deepening friendship between the island and the US.

“The Lockheed Martin group has supplied us with a whole lot of help in finishing the improve,” she mentioned. “This not solely indicators the additional progress of Taiwan-US friendship, but in addition represents a agency dedication to Taiwan-US relations.”

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Beijing’s ruling Communist Celebration has been stepping up its army strain on Taiwan, together with sending 150 warplanes close to the island in simply 5 days in October, prompting Taipei to challenge radio warnings and deploy air protection missile programs to observe the exercise.

When the sale of the 66 jets to Taiwan was introduced final 12 months, analysts mentioned they would offer a reliable plane to compete with China’s whereas boosting morale among the many island’s fighter pilots.

“It is a very succesful plane. It is small, it is nimble, it is easy to fly. Pilots like it,” Drew Thompson, visiting senior analysis fellow on the Lee Kuan Yew Faculty of Public Coverage on the Nationwide College of Singapore, mentioned.

He famous the fighter can perform in lots of roles, together with launching missiles at ships, taking out enemy radar, in addition to in air-to-air confrontations.

Australian army analyst Peter Layton of the Griffith Asia Institute mentioned final 12 months that the F-16 sale may assist stabilize the Taiwan scenario, at the very least from a army standpoint.

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“The sale will act to broadly keep the air fight stability” between Taiwanese (ROCAF) and Chinese language (PLAAF) air forces, Layton mentioned.

“The PLAAF has considerably extra air fight plane than the ROCAF, however in a battle the ROCAF will probably be defending and the PLAAF attacking. The distinction in roles and that the ROCAF will probably be working over its personal airfields compensates for the distinction in numbers,” he mentioned.

“The extra F-16s will merely maintain the stability into the early 2030s,” Layton mentioned.

Communist authorities in Beijing have refused to rule out the usage of pressure to take Taiwan regardless of having by no means dominated it. The democratic island has had its personal authorities and army for the reason that finish of the Chinese language Civil Struggle greater than seven many years in the past.

US army gross sales to Taiwan are approved underneath the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act so long as they’re of a “defensive character.” The act was signed into regulation after Washington established diplomatic relations with Beijing with a caveat that Taiwan’s future can be decided by peaceable means.

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The topic of Taiwan was excessive on the agenda throughout a digital summit between US President Joe Biden and Chinese language chief Xi Jinping on Monday.

Within the talks, Biden raised his considerations over Beijing’s conduct within the area. Whereas he reaffirmed the US “One China” coverage, which acknowledges Beijing’s declare of sovereignty however permits for US protection ties with Taiwan, he voiced fear that China’s actions have been destabilizing the area.

Based on a readout of the assembly from China’s International Ministry, Xi blamed rising tensions throughout the Taiwan Strait on what he referred to as Taipei’s try to “depend on the US to hunt independence,” and “the intention of some People to make use of Taiwan to include China.”

In her speech Thursday, Taiwanese President Tsai thanked the air pressure for working “day and night time” to guard Taiwan.

“No matter any intrusion, (our air pressure) can instantly take to the skies to intercept and expel the intruders. This has demonstrated our willpower to defend our airspace.”

“I consider that, so long as we proceed to defend our free and democratic values, extra nations with comparable beliefs will stand with us,” she added.