Rust problem causes delivery delays for Taiwan’s F-16V jets

The first four upgraded jets will be delivered by the end of March: Air Force chief

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An F-16 fighter jet.

An F-16 fighter jet. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - The delivery of the first four fighter jets upgraded to the F-16V version will have to be postponed until March 2019 due to a rust problem, Taiwan’s Air Force said Wednesday.

The country has 143 F-16A/B jets which should be modernized and upgraded to F-16V fighters by Lockheed Martin at a total cost of NT$129.6 billion (US$4.2 billion).

The first four finished products should have been delivered to Taiwan by the end of this year, but because rust was discovered on the aircraft, their delivery will have to be delayed until March, the Apple Daily reported Wednesday.

Seven of the 150 F-16 jets Taiwan procured from the United States in 1992, during the administration of the late President George H.W. Bush, crashed, with the 143 remaining aircraft having reached middle age. The U.S. agreed in 2011 to upgrade all of Taiwan’s F-16 jets.

Despite the delay over the rust issue, 2023 remained the deadline for the work on all the planes to be completed, Air Force Chief of Staff Liu Jen-yuan (劉任遠) told lawmakers Wednesday.

The upgrade included the installation of sophisticated radar equipment used by the U.S. Air Force on its F-22 and F-35 jets, reports said.