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Taiwan to receive first two F-16Vs by 2023: defense chief

2019/11/12 17:27:18

Taipei, Nov. 12 (CNA) The first two of 66 F-16V fighter jets that Taiwan has purchased from the United States are expected to arrive in 2023, Defense Minister Yen De-fa (嚴德發) said Tuesday during a legislative hearing.

The rest of the all-weather multi-role aircraft will be delivered in batches of four or five units between 2024 and 2026, Yen said.

The U.S. State Department approved the sale of the F-16 C/D Block 70 fighters, popularly known as the F-16V, on Aug. 20.

Taiwan's military said in late October that it received a draft letter of offer and acceptance (LOA), which is a contract between the U.S. military and a foreign military buyer, detailing its offer to sell the fighters.

According to Yen, the F-16V is capable of cooperative engagement -- a sensor network with integrated fire control capability -- and is on a par with China's J-20 fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft.

He said the new planes can serve the country for at least 30 years.

Asked by legislators if there is a possibility for Taiwan to conduct joint military exercises with the U.S., Yen said only that Taiwan endeavors to cooperate with the U.S. in the field of humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

Meanwhile, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said at the hearing that the government is planning to allocate NT$247.2 billion (US$8.08 billion) from 2020 to 2026 for the purchase and related costs of the fighters.

Taiwan needs advanced weapons to defend itself from China's coercion, including the crossing of the median line in the Taiwan Strait and island encirclement flights by Chinese warplanes, Su said.

(By Kuo Chien-shen, Fan Cheng-hsiang, Wang Yu-yang and Emerson Lim)
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