Amid Chinese military threat, Taiwan unveils new F-16V fighter jets

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Taipei [Taiwan]: Amid rising military threats from China, Taiwan on Thursday (local time) unveiled more than two dozen upgraded F-16 fighter jets – F-16V at the Chiayi base.
The F-16s screamed across the sky at Chiayi Air Base on the island’s southwestern coast as pilots performed aerial maneuvers to demonstrate the capabilities of Taiwan’s first squadron of US-made F-16V, reported CNN. During the commissioning ceremony, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said the formation of a new F-16V combat wing has demonstrated the deepening friendship between the island and the US.
“The Lockheed Martin team has provided us with a lot of assistance in completing the upgrade,” she said.
“This not only signals the further progress of Taiwan-US friendship but also represents a firm commitment to Taiwan-US relations.”
In the event of an air attack from China, F-16V fighter jets, or Viper will defend the island nation. The planes were upgraded from older F-16A/B fighter jets, originally acquired by Taiwan in the 1990s, and are equipped with advanced radar systems and new mission computers, according to the official Central News Agency (CNA). The island has plans to upgrade 141 fighters to the newer version by 2023.
That upgrade has already been done to more than 60 F-16s, Vice Defense Minister Wang Hsin-lung told Taiwan’s Parliament on Wednesday, reported CNN.
Taiwan has also purchased 66 new F-16Vs from manufacturer Lockheed Martin in the United States, and delivery is expected to start in 2023, CNA reported.
Beijing’s ruling Communist Party has been stepping up its military pressure on Taiwan, including sending 150 warplanes near the island in just five days in October, prompting Taipei to issue radio warnings and deploy air defense missile systems to monitor the activity.
Communist authorities in Beijing have refused to rule out the use of force to take Taiwan despite having never ruled it. The democratic island has had its own government and military since the end of the Chinese Civil War more than seven decades ago.
The subject of Taiwan was high on the agenda during a virtual summit between US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Monday, reported CNN.
In the talks, Biden raised his concerns over Beijing’s behavior in the region. While he reaffirmed the US “One China” policy, which recognizes Beijing’s claim of sovereignty but allows for US defense ties with Taiwan, he voiced worry that China’s actions were destabilizing the region.
According to a readout of the meeting from China’s Foreign Ministry, Xi blamed rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait on what he called Taipei’s attempt to “rely on the US to seek independence,” and “the intention of some Americans to use Taiwan to contain China.”

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