Taiwan Air Force has started to modernize its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16/B fighter jets with new electronic countermeasures (ECM) pods on small scale.
The aim of modernization is to improve the planes’ air-to-air and air-to-ground surveillance capabilities and combat capability to meet the needs of advanced warfare, Taipei Times reported Monday.
The fleet has 80 AN/ALQ-184(V) ECM pods and the Taiwese air force has earmarked US$160 million to purchase 42 new ALQ-131A FMS pods that the US has been developing to replace the old pods. However, the service would now only be able to buy only 12 FMS pods for that budget due to increased research and development costs.
The Taiwan air force service plans to outfit the F-16 fleet with the new FMS pod. The pods can be integrated with the jets’ combat systems and fit with the air force’s logistical planning. Development and testing of the new pods has been completed and they are being produced in small batches.
The procurement was in accordance with the Government Procurement Act, military procurement regulations and the US Department of Defense’s Security Assistance Management Manual, the air force said. Further the service denied local media reports that it plans to amortize the procurement expense over several fiscal years.
The upgrade is in accordance with a January 2012 legislative resolution stipulating that the air force “should procure the same equipment used by the US Air Force to ensure consistency in weapons deployment and maintenance with the US Air Force and to ensure government spending efficiency.” the service stated.