TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s F-16 maintenance center was inaugurated in Taichung Friday morning (Aug. 28).
The ceremony was held at the Taichung Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) factory Friday morning, when President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) emphasized that defending the sovereignty of Taiwan and maintaining regional peace and stability requires a strong national defense, not bowing to pressure. With the establishment of this maintenance center, Tsai said, the time required for repairs will be greatly shortened, and fighter availability will be increased significantly to ensure air superiority.
The maintenance center will also be able to handle F-16s from other air forces, including Japan, Thailand, Singapore, and South Korea.
As Asia-Pacific's first F-16 repair hub, the facility cost approximately NT$110 billion (US$3.75 billion) and is authorized by Lockheed Martin to service the fourth-generation fighter. According to AIDC, the center will create about 600 jobs every year and create overall industry benefits of up to NT$200 billion, CNA reported.
Lockheed Martin and AIDC are working together to upgrade Taiwan’s fleet of 142 F-16A/Bs to F-16Vs. Additionally, the Taiwan Air Force has purchased 66 new F-16Vs from the United States under the "Project Phoenix Rising" program, some of which will be deployed to Taitung’s Chihhang (志航) base.
Ma Wan-chun (馬萬鈞), president of AIDC, said the focus of the maintenance center at this stage is to assist the Air Force in solving the issues of long delivery times, high costs, and high usage frequency of aircraft parts.
In an interview after the ceremony, Ma pointed out the government hopes to try to repair F-16s locally through the support of domestic industries, so the Air Force can obtain high-quality parts in a short time and achieve a win-win situation for civilian companies and the Air Force. As Taiwan will have as many as 200 F-16s in the future, about 40 F-16s will be under repair at any time; this is why establishing a maintenance center is so significant, he stated.
Ma stressed the new facility will not steal orders from the Air Force, nor is it meant to replace the Air Force's maintenance efforts.