TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — While commissioning the first batch of upgraded F-16Vs on Thursday (Nov. 19), President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said that the delivery of the sophisticated weapons symbolizes Taiwan's close cooperation with the U.S. and will greatly strengthen her country's national defense.
On Thursday, Tsai presided over the commissioning of 64 F-16Vs at Chiayi Air Base in Taiwan County. These are the first of aging 141 F-16 A/Bs that are to be upgraded to the F-16V, Lockheed's most advanced version of the fighter jet at a cost of NT$110 billion.
At a ceremony that saw Air Force pilots demonstrate dizzying maneuvers overhead, Tsai praised the skills of Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Lin Hsuan-chi (林暄期) for executing a series of complex movements at a speed of 600 kilometers per hour. She said that Taiwan's people are at ease because "we know that regardless of any intrusion, you can immediately take off to intercept and drive them away, showing our determination to defend our airspace."
Tsai said that the ceremony not only turns a new page in the history of Taiwan's Air Force, but also marks three important milestones: the further development of the Taiwan-U.S. friendship, further advancement of Taiwan's aerospace technology, and the strengthening of Taiwan's national defense capabilities.
In terms of enhancing Taiwan-U.S. friendship, Tsai said that the F-16V upgrade is a project that involves the Taiwan Air Force, Taiwan's Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC), and Lockheed Martin. She emphasized that this defense industry collaboration between Taiwan and the U.S. "not only further fosters Taiwan-U.S. friendship, but also demonstrates a steadfast commitment to the partnership between the two countries." She then added, "As long as we adhere to the values of democracy and freedom, there will be more like-minded countries willing to stand on the same front lines with us."
Upgrading aerospace tech
As for the upgrade to Taiwan's aerospace technology, Tsai stated that developing a strong domestic defense industry is an important policy. She expressed the hope that the strengthening of national defense will also cultivate Taiwan's own talents and enhance industrial might.
Regarding the strengthening of Taiwan's defenses, Tsai said that the F-16 has superior performance and is the main fighter in many countries. She pointed out that the F-16V has the ability to fight at longer ranges, possesses greatly improved performance, and can better respond to new challenges on the modern battlefield.
That same day, Tsai released a tweet in which she announced that the first squadron of the upgraded F-16V fighter jets had been commissioned. She then proclaimed that these new fighters "symbolize our close cooperation with the US" and pointed out that they come equipped with advanced technology that will significantly strengthen Taiwan's national defense capabilities.
#Taiwan's first squadron of upgraded F-16V fighter jets has entered service. These aircraft symbolize our close cooperation with the US & are equipped with advanced technology that will substantially strengthen our national defense. pic.twitter.com/S2QV9pSkWN— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) November 18, 2021