TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – This week in Taichung, the Ministry of Defense (MND) started testing on the air force’s newest F-16 Viper fighter jets that have undergone modernization upgrades as part of the “Phoenix Rising Project.”
The F-16 is produced by Lockheed Martin, and the F-16V possesses several modifications implemented by Taiwan’s own state-backed Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC).
Reports state that the planned modernization of Taiwan’s fleet of 143 F-16A/Bs into F-16Vs includes updated radar, computer components, and modified landing gear.
The computer components involve weapons systems that improve search, tracking, and targeting capabilities of the F-16V’s integrated AN/APG-83 radar system.
According to the reports, the radar’s detection range on the modernized fighters is increased by 30 percent. Target detection capability is increased 220 percent, and the self-protection capability of the F-16V is increased by 180 percent.
The total modernization program of Taiwan’s F-16 fleet is estimated to cost about US$5.3 billion and is expected to be completed in 2022 or 2023. Asia Times reports that Taiwan already allocated US$4.2 billion to the project in January 2017.
The flight trials being held in central Taiwan are being conducted by U.S. pilots working for the Lockheed Martin Corporation, reports Defence Blog.
The MND expects that the first squadron of F-16V fighters will be combat ready by early 2019.