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US lawmakers voice concern over slow progress of F-16V delivery to Taiwan

Congress members urge US Air Force to provide schedule for F-16V production

Taiwan F-16V. (Military News Agency photo)

Taiwan F-16V. (Military News Agency photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A group of U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern over the delayed delivery of F-16 Vipers to Taiwan in a letter shared by congressman Robert J. Wittman on Tuesday (Nov. 21).

Twenty-four congresspeople, including Wittman and Mark Alford, have requested U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall to provide a schedule of F-16V retrofits and production for Taiwan by Dec. 18.

The lawmakers noted that the shipment of 66 new F-16Vs was supposed to be completed between 2025-2026, but now has been delayed to between 2026-2027. They said these new aircraft would “improve stability across the Taiwan Strait” by making Taiwan stronger and more resilient.

They said congress was ready to cooperate with the Air Force “to ensure that both FMS (Foreign Military Sales) cases are not further delayed and hope to prevent similarly optimistic technology assumptions from manifesting in the future.” “We cannot afford to over-promise and under-deliver to our closest friends,” the lawmakers added.

The lawmakers acknowledged that the Air Force already “drastically” decreased schedule risk for the F-16V retrofit program but still considered the arms packages “high-risk” of being delayed. As a result, they said congress would continue to keep close tabs on the progress of these military sales, particularly regarding organizing, staffing, funding, and delivery.

“We stand ready to work with you to resolve these setbacks and improve the defense of Taiwan,” they said.

The joint letter comes as Taiwan strives to bolster its defense capabilities to counter the Chinese military threat. The Viper upgrade of Taiwan’s fleet of older F-16 variants purchased in 1992 was approved in 2011, while 66 new F-16Vs was greenlit in 2019.