Taiwan's air force is hoping that the US approves its requested purchase for new F-16V fighter jets. The air force sees the F-16V as a platform that would increase the country's air defense capabilities, while also being a cheaper alternative to the costly F-35. Defense Minister Yan Defa minded that the service must evaluate the platform based on its combat strength and supplement capability to the other three aircraft types in service, he also reassured that any proposed platform that meets the operational requirements will be taken into consideration. Taiwan's main fighter platforms are the F-16, AIDC F-CK-1 known as Indigenous Defense Fighter and the Mirage 2000, all of which are about 20 years old. Past requests for the purchase of 66 F-16C/D fighters were rejected
by the US government. As an alternative the US proposed the delivery of F-16Vs which have a comparable performance to the C/D variants. Hong Kong-based military commentator Song Zhongping told
the South China Morning Post that 'the US had considered selling the production lines of its discontinued F-16 and F-18 fighter jets to India, and it was possible it may also sell the F-16 production line to Taiwan'.
Despite China’s ominous military buildup across the strait, key weapons sales of P-3 maritime patrol aircraft, Patriot PAC-3 missiles, and diesel-electric submarines to Taiwan had been sabotaged by Taiwanese politics for years – in some cases, since 1997. The KMT party’s flip-flops and determined stalling tactics eventually created a crisis in US-Taiwan relations, which finally soured to the point that the USA refused a Taiwanese request for F-16C/D aircraft.
That seems to have brought things to a head. Most of the budget and political issues were eventually sorted out, and after a long delay, some major elements of Taiwan’s requested modernization program appear to be moving forward: P-3 maritime patrol aircraft, UH-60M helicopters, Patriot missile upgrades; and requests for AH-64D attack helicopters, E-2 Hawkeye AWACS planes, minehunting ships, and missiles for defense against aircraft, ships, and tanks. These are must-have capabilities when facing a Chinese government that has vowed to take the country by force, and which is building an extensive submarine fleet, a large array of ballistic missiles, an upgraded fighter fleet, and a number of amphibious-capable divisions. Chinese pressure continues to stall some of Taiwan’s most important upgrades, including diesel-electric submarines, and new American fighter jets. Meanwhile, other purchases from abroad continue.