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Taiwan to finish F-16 jet upgrades before end of year

Final F-16V completed flight tests, aircraft modifications ongoing

Taiwan F-16V.

Taiwan F-16V. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taiwan Air Force will complete retrofitting its fleet of 142 F-16A/B fighter jets into the Viper variant before the end of the year.

A military official said that flight tests for the upgraded F-16V were completed on Sunday (Dec. 3), per CNA. Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) and U.S. fighter-jet manufacturer Lockheed Martin are still conducting aircraft modifications, but upgrades are expected to be wrapped up by late December, the official said.

Under the Air Force’s Feng Zhan Project, which began in 2016, approximately NT$140 billion (US$ 4.5 billion) was spent on upgrading older F-16s to the Viper, which has improved targeting capabilities, weapons systems, and avionics.

Additionally, the Air Force purchased 66 new F-16Vs under the Feng Hsiang Project from the U.S. in 2020. Several of the new F-16Vs will be put into storage for upgrades by a designated Air Force unit.

In August 2020, Taiwan opened an F-16 repair hub in preparation for receiving more than 200 F-16s, the largest fleet of its kind in Asia. The construction project cost NT$110 billion and was a joint endeavor by AIDC and Lockheed Martin.

The facility was built to carry out the Feng Zhan Project and to handle future maintenance of its entire F-16 fleet in the future. At the opening ceremony, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said the center could bring NT$79.5 billion in output value in 30 years and create 600 jobs annually.