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66 new fighter jets to arrive in Taiwan by 2026

Washington's US$8 billion sale of F16vs to Taiwan riled China

General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon. Wikipedia photo.

General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon. Wikipedia photo.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Tuesday (Nov. 12) reported on the budget for the country's acquisition of 66 F-16V Block 70/72 fighter aircraft at the Legislative Yuan, according to Liberty Times.

During the consultation for the "Special Regulations on the Purchase of New Types of Aircraft," People First Party (PFP) Legislator Chou Chen Hsiu-hsia (周陳秀霞) inquired about the fighter jets’ delivery schedule. Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) said that the first two, a single and a double-seater, will be delivered in 2023 and tested.

From 2024 onwards, the F16 Fighting Falcons will arrive in Taiwan in stages, with all orders expected to be delivered by 2026. Yen said that the fighter planes will be delivered to Taiwan in batches of four or five.

The special budget for purchasing the multi-role fighters from the US was approved on Oct. 29. U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to approve the arms sale drew protests from the Chinese government, which has long pressured other countries not to sell military equipment to Taiwan.

Chou added that the new aircraft will require a total of 107 flying officers but that the number of Taiwan’s F-16 pilots has only increased by 21 in the past nine years. She asked whether full pilot training for new personnel could be completed within the timetable.

Yen responded that the purchase of 56 single-seat fighters and ten two-seat fighters would indeed necessitate 107 pilots. However, he said that they would make use of experienced pilots from the fourth and fifth squadrons for the period between 2021 and 2025.

From next year, Taiwan’s Air Force will also increase the number of recruitment posts for full-term military academy personnel and the regular flying wing in order to supplement the fourth and fifth squadron, Yen said.

With the expected completion in 2023 of upgrades to Taiwan’s existing 142-strong fleet of F-16A and F-16B fighter jets, the island expects to have a total of 208 F-16Vs by 2026, reports said.