On 19 October 2018, the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) received the first aircraft upgraded to the F-16V standard by the Taiwanese Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC).
Of the 145 Taiwanese F-16s, the first two were upgraded by Lockheed Martin in the United States and the remaining 143 would be brought to the last version by the AIDC.
To counter the new Chengdu J-20 and Shenyang J-31 fifth generation fighters of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), Taiwan has decided to upgrade its 143 F-16 Fighting Falcons to the Block 70 standard.
The first four F-16s had undergone the upgrade works since January 2017 at AIDC factory, and the first upgraded F-16V jet was received at Shueishang Air Base in Chiany county. The remaining three aircrafts will enter service by the end of the year.
Up to 25 to 28 fighters will be upgraded per year, the entire process being completed by 2022-2023.
The entire program of upgrading the 143 F-16s will cost the Taiwanese government $ 5.3 billion.
Upgrading to F-16V Block 70 version, requires the instalation of more advanced avionics including the new AN/APG-83 SABR AESA radar, along with an enhanced electronic warfare system, a modular mission computer and the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS).
Also, structural upgrades are made to extend the structural life of the aircraft and the new Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 turbofans are mounted.
The AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) is an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, developed by Northrop Grumman, which offers advanced capabilities derived from F-35's APG-81 and F-22's APG-77 radars.
Taiwan, an island country with an area of only 36,000 km2 and with a population of about 23.5 million inhabitants owns an impressive number of 391 combat aircrafts.
In addition to the 145 F-16A/Bs which are to be brought to the F-16V standard, the Taiwanese Air Force also has 145 AIDC F-CK-1, 55 Mirage 2000 and 45 Northrop F-5 light fighters.
AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-kuo is a twin-engined, multirole fighter developed by Taiwan with the support of several American companies including General Dynamics, the original developer of the F-16.
Similar in design with the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-CK-1 is powered by two Honeywell/ITEC F125-70 engines.
Beside Taiwan, other states have also decided to upgrade their F-16 aircrafts to the Viper standard.
Greece will upgrade 85 of its 154 F-16s, with the most of them going to be upgraded in Greece by the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI).
Bahrain will modernize its 20 F-16C/D aircrafts and has additionally ordered 22 new F-16V Block 70/72 jets.
Singapore will upgrade 60 aircrafts while South Korea will upgrade 134 fighters.
Slovakia will acquire 14 new F-16 Block 70/72 fighters and will be the first European country to be equipped with this advanced model.
See below how Taiwan's new F-16V Block 70/72 compares with fifth and fourth-generation fighter jets of the Chinese People's Republic Air Force (PLAAF):
Defense News - www.defensenews.com
- Taiwan takes delivery of first locally upgraded F-16 / Author: Mike Yeo, Defense News