Our Bureau
09:44 AM, March 7, 2019
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F-16V fighter jet (Image: Lockheed Martin)

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense has submitted a request for sale of 66 F-16V Block 70/72 fighter jets from the United States for an approximate $13 billion costing an approximate $70 million to $90 million apiece.

Taiwan raised the request in late February this year, the Taipei Report reported quoting unnamed government officials as confirming the proposal.

The Air Force Command also confirmed that it has already submitted a new type of fighter procurement demand to the US through a formal pipeline to strengthen air defense capability. However, due to different equipment types, the prices are different. After the US responds, the bargaining will be conducted, the report stated Wednesday. The National Army is in great need of these fighters, but now it is the "seller's market". It is not what we want to buy, the US will sell it immediately, the US will judge its own interests, choose the time to sell, or suspend, it will be seen whether the Trump administration will use the arms sales to Taiwan as a leveraged chip for US-China relations.

In September 2017, the US State Department approved the sale of 19 F-16V fighters in Bahrain and upgraded 20 F-16 Block 40s in Bahrain to F-16V. At that time, the unit price of the newly purchased F-16V in Bahrain did not include weapons and equipment and training costs, about $70 million.

Shi Xiaozhen, editor-in-chief of the "Military and Aviation" website, was quoted as saying that the US personnel had privately said that since the number of F-16Vs purchased in China was 66, more than Bahrain, the unit price of purchasing F-16V would never be higher than that of Bahrain.

Shi Xiaoxuan further pointed out that since F-5E/F fighter is about to be eliminated, the air defense capability of the eastern region must be replenished. The current plan is to be stationed in Taitung by the Air Force’s fleet of Qingquangang. The newly purchased 66 F-16V fighters will be deployed at the Qingquangang base in the future to meet the air superiority of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.

According to Zheng Jiwen, editor-in-chief of Asia-Pacific Defense magazine, the F-16V has a greater operational efficiency than the existing fighters of the National Army, regardless of the radar, air and electric self-war system. The ability is sufficient to match the PLA-10C fighter. Zheng Jiwen pointed out that the F-16V has the latest specifications, AESA (Electronic Active Array Array) radar, radar can not only see far, better control ability, plus the latest air and electronic warfare system, compared to the military's existing F-16A /B is a lot stronger, aircraft performance can meet the future air defense needs of the national army.

However, he also pointed out that the F-16V still has a fatal problem, that is, the take-off and landing method still needs the traditional runway, not the vertical or short-range take-off and landing aircraft, because in the war, our runway is very easy to be blown up by the enemy, so Purchasing the F-16V does not meet the most urgent needs of the Air Force.

In the long run, it is still necessary to continue to buy the F-35 fighters from the US to solve the deadly problem of being destroyed during the runway.

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