The Taiwan Air Force has asked National Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology to help extend the lifespan of the MICA missiles installed on its Mirage 2000 fighters Deputy National Defense Minister Lee Hsi-ming at the Legislature's Foreign and National Defense Committee.
The institute is capable of doing so, he was quoted as saying by various local media Monday.
However, upgrading the aircraft locally is not on anvil despite the Mirage 2000 plane having completed half its lifespan and France quoting an ‘exorbitant’ price to upgrade the plane.
Lee has acknowledged that the delivery of parts and materials needed for the maintenance of Mirage fighters and the price are indeed higher than two other types of aircraft, those are indigenous defense fighters (IDFs) and F-16 fighters.
But in case of Mirage, the Air Force has been able to maintain the jet at an adequate level as required by the Ministry of National Defense, he said. Taiwan has been taking deliveries of Mirage fighters since 19 years.
"Mirage fighter jets have superb performance," he said. He added that the Air Force is making efforts to maintain their performance. He dismissed the report of The Apple daily which stated that there are worries that if parts and components of the fighters become unavailable, and the Air Force could decommission them before the scheduled time.
The Apple Daily reported that a fighter jet is generally designed to be used for 30 years, but 15 years after it rolls out of a plant, it will have to be upgraded to maintain its performance and to ensure flight safety, If there is no upgrade, the lifespan is about 20 years, it added.
Taiwan has upgraded its other fighter jets. The IDF A/B has been upgraded to C/D, while the upgrade of F-16 A/B to F-16V will begin early next year.