Tsai visits Air Force base in central Taiwan

President Tsai pays visit to Air Force base, envisions stronger air defense capabilities after F-16 upgrades

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President Tsai Ing-wen.

President Tsai Ing-wen. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — With the Lunar New Year holiday just a few days away, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Tuesday morning (Jan. 21) visited Taiwan’s Air Force base in Chiayi, where its F-16 fighter jets are getting an upgrade.

The Air Force is accelerating its F-16V fighter upgrade program and carrying out the training of pilots, remarked Tsai after being briefed at the base. The Ministry of National Defense has plans to complete the upgrade of more than 140 F-16A/Bs by 2022 despite an earlier delay due to a lack of manpower at Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation.

With the assistance of the U.S., 23 pilots completed the lead-in training last year and will be flying the world’s first upgraded F-16V fleet in the coming years, said Tsai. Seven pilots have also acquired qualifications to coach pilots, said Tsai, adding the Air Force's capabilities will be even stronger in the future.

During her visit to the Chiayi base on Tuesday, Tsai expressed her gratitude to Air Force personnel for their hard work in the past year and for remaining on duty during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.

Accompanied by Defense Minister Yen Teh-fa (嚴德發) and the newly appointed Chief of General Staff, Huang Shu-kuang (黃曙光), Tsai also visited an Army training center in Tainan later that day.