TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — On Tuesday (Dec. 17), Taiwan's state-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) and Maryland-based global security and aerospace company Lockheed Martin signed a collaboration agreement to make Taiwan the first Asia-Pacific maintenance center for F-16 fighter jets.
Taiwan is the first country to work with the US company on upgrading its existing F-16s to F-16V "Viper" jets. With the expected completion in 2023 of the upgrades to the country's 144 F-16s along with its acquisition of 66 new F-16V Block 70/72 aircraft, the island expects to have a total of 210 F-16Vs, the largest fleet of F-16Vs in the Asia-Pacific region, by 2026, according to reports.
In this context, a strategic partnership has been formed to meet the growing demand for maintenance and repair services in the region. LTN reported that a signing ceremony was held on Tuesday in the AIDC's Taichung complex, with Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), top officials from the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, and Randy Howard, director of F-16/F-21 Business Development for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, present to celebrate the landmark partnership.
As the original equipment manufacturer, Lockheed Martin designs, engineers, develops, integrates and sustains a complete F-16 weapons system solution. The repair center planned for Taiwan has been interpreted by Russian political scientist Karneev Andrey Niyazovich, head of HSE University's School of Asian Studies, as both an important sign of greater cooperation between the U.S. and Taiwanese defense industries and a potential flashpoint in the Taiwan Strait.
The AIDC told LTN that the strategic partnership is expected to add momentum toTaiwan's industrial upgrade and economic growth.