TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan Defence Minister Yen Teh-fa (嚴德發) officially confirmed today (Wednesday, April 10) that the Ministry of National Defense (MND) has submitted a Letter of Request (LOR) to the U.S. to buy a fleet of F-16 Viper fighter planes.
President Tsai Ing-wen on March 19 told a group of visitors from the Air Force Elementary School Alumni Association of the United States and Canada that a formal request had been sent. Yen today said the MND has sought to buy 66 F-16V jets, according to the Central News Agency, and expects a Letter of Offer and Acceptance by July
Meanwhile, the Legislative Yuan Foreign and National Defense Committee this afternoon reviewed an official plan to boost Taiwan’s national defense industry and has prepared follow-up questions.
Prior to today, the military did not openly confirm the amount of F-16V units it had requested, but Air Force Chief of Staff Liu Jen-yuan (劉任遠) said during a legislative session that the Air Force is asking for 66 units.
In response to concerns that the U.S. is delaying the sale until trade negotiations with China are complete, Yan stressed that the sale is proceeding as normal. The U.S. government is to inform Congress of its decision within 150 days, he said, and since the LOR was sent in February, Congress will be notified by July.
Yan also brushed off rumors that Taiwan is buying F-16Vs from the U.S. at 1.5 times the regular price, stating that Taiwan would purchase the jets at the same price as other national governments.
The biggest advantage of the new F-16Vs is the new AN/APG-83 AESA radar which can search, track and lock on to multiple targets, CNA reports. The jets also include upgraded mission computers and cockpit dashboards, new helmet-mounted displays, and come equipped with the latest AIM-9X sidewinder missiles.
The vehicles will likely be transported over in 2023 at the earliest, CNA reports.