TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan has deployed four F-16As to the U.S. where they will be used for training missions.
The jet fighters departed Taiwan at 12:57 a.m. Tuesday (May 25). All logos and insignias on their fuselages and tails were removed due to the low-key nature of the mission.
After more than a dozen aerial refuelings, they landed at Hawaii’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport at 3 pm local time, Liberty Times reported. The jets later made their way to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
According to Taiwanese defense and security analyst Mei Fu-hsing (梅復興), training for the F-16s' pilots is expected to be moved to Tuscon Air National Guard Base by the end of the year. He added that since the Tuscon base is close to the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range, Taiwanese pilots can use the range's vast airspace for weapons training missions.
On May 13, six Taiwanese F-16A fighters that were stationed at Luke Air Force Base returned to Hualien, where they will be upgraded to the Block 70 variant.
That same day, Instagram aviation aficionado Aeros808 had posted a photo showing two F-16s taking off from Daniel. K. Inoue International Airport. One of the aircraft displayed the serial number 6621, which is a Taiwanese military number, and the other displayed the American serial number 93-708.
According to internal military sources, a number of the country's F-16s are being retrofitted in the U.S. and will fly back to Taiwan in batches, piloted by Taiwanese and American pilots. The fighter jets will then be handed over to Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation for the scheduled performance trials.
Taiwan purchased 150 F-16 fighters from the U.S. in 1992. The U.S. delivered them in groups, with the first arriving in April 1997.
The first two fighters from that purchase took off from Fort Worth, Texas. After 19 aerial refuelings and layovers in Hawaii and Guam, they finally arrived at Chiayi Air Force Base 22 hours later.