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Taiwan insists F-16V jet deliveries to be completed by end of 2026

US Air Force mentions development issues

File photo of an F-16V fighter jet. 

File photo of an F-16V fighter jet.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — All 66 F-16V fighter jets ordered from the United States will be delivered by the end of 2026 despite reports of “complex developmental challenges,” the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said on Wednesday (May 24).

The postponed delivery of the first two jets from late 2023 until the third quarter of 2024 had been blamed on COVID-19 issues from suppliers. However, Bloomberg News quoted the U.S. Air Force on Wednesday as saying that more serious technical problems were behind the delay.

There was no explanation as to what those problems might be, but U.S. State Department and Pentagon officials reportedly traveled to the Lockheed Martin plant in South Carolina to discuss the issue.

Bahrain had already taken delivery of similar F-16V Block 70 jets, but as no problem had been reported with those planes, experts suggested that the issue might be with specific equipment fitted to the aircraft for Taiwan.

The MND responded to the report by insisting all 66 new jets purchased would arrive in Taiwan by the end of 2026 as initially ordered, the Liberty Times reported. Problems with the delivery of sophisticated weapons systems have caused concern from U.S. politicians amid aggressive Chinese behavior, including almost daily incursions by Chinese military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ).