Tensions with China, Taiwan Alerts Advanced F-16 Combat Division

Tensions with China, Taiwan Alerts Advanced F-16 Combat Division

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen commissioned a squadron of state-of-the-art F-16 fighters thanks to US assistance during rising tensions between Taiwan and China.

Ummatimes  - Tsai praised the military's cooperation with Washington during a ceremony at an air base in Chiayi City, southern Taiwan, Thursday (11/18/2021).

Tsai revealed the first squadron of her most advanced F-16, the F-16V, a project that demonstrates the strong commitment of the Taiwan-US partnership.

"I believe that as long as we adhere to the values ​​of democracy and freedom, there will be more like-minded countries standing in front of the same as us," said Tsai, speaking on the same stage as the top US diplomat in Taiwan, Sandra Oudkirk. .

Frequent Chinese and US military exercises in the region have raised fears of a crisis-triggered conflict over democratically-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own territory.

The United States does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

But the US is the island's main international backer and arms supplier, angering Beijing.

The S$5.4 billion F-16 upgrade, led by manufacturers Lockheed Martin Corp and Taiwan's Aerospace Industrial Development Corp (AIDC), is the latest example of military cooperation between Washington and Taipei.

Taiwan has converted 141 F-16A/B jets into the F-16V type, 64 of which have been upgraded.

Taiwan also ordered 66 new F-16Vs, which have new avionics, weapons and radar systems to rival the Chinese air force's, including the J-20 stealth fighter.

The F-16V can carry Raytheon Technologies Corp's advanced AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.

During an event at the air base in Chiayi, the F-16s performed a stunt by taking off, landing, and flying low in formation over the runway.

Tsai said that the more F-16Vs in operation, the stronger Taiwan's defenses will be.

So far, Taiwan's air force is well trained, but is taken lightly by China.

The United States in 2019 approved an $8 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan. This deal brings Taiwan's F-16 fleet to more than 200 jets, the largest in Asia.

Meanwhile China has announced sanctions against Lockheed Martin for selling weapons to Taiwan.