The Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense (MND) is to increase the budget to upgrade the air force’s F-16 warplane fleet to boost the number and types of air-to-air missiles the aircraft can carry.
The budget is set to go up from NT$129.6 billion to NT$140.2 billion (US$4.21 million to US$4.56 million), a high-ranking defense official said yesterday according to a report in Taipei Times.
Better missiles are necessary to maintain parity between the upgraded F-16s and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s tactical fighters, the official said.
Details of the missile portion of the budget would be disclosed to lawmakers on the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee when the Legislative Yuan reviews the national defense budget for fiscal 2019, the official said.
The US government has agreed to supply the armaments and equipment identified in the budget, while an earlier scheme for F-16V performance improvement packages, which is to be completed by 2023, is to be followed as planned, the official said.
Taiwan’s plan to add more firepower to its F-16 fleet comes amidst increased air patrols by China and the threat of an invasion of the Island which Beijing claims as it own territory.
China has boosted its air force with several types of fighter jets including a stealth fighter but its performance is yet to be tested in actual combat.