Newly commissioned F-16Vs perform ‘elephant walk’ at Chiayi base

Taiwan's newly-commissioned F-16Vs performed an "elephant walk" at Chiayi Air Base for the first time on Wednesday, to demonstrate the Air Force's capability to launch combat-ready fighters at a moment's notice.

During the exercise, a total of 12 F-16Vs lined up down the runway for a public demonstration open to members of the media.

The 12 fighters were part of the newly-commissioned F-16V combat squadron listed under the Air Force's 4th Tactical Fighter Wing based in Chiayi County, southern Taiwan, in November 2021.

The F-16Vs are former F-16A/Bs upgraded as part of a program launched by the Air Force in 2016.

The program included the retrofitting of 141 F-16 A/Bs into F-16Vs, which are equipped with more advanced avionics, including APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar, a Helmet Mounted Cueing System, and other flight management and electronic warfare systems.

According to the Air Force, an "elephant walk" is a U.S. Air Force term for the taxiing of military aircraft right before takeoff, when they are in close formation.

The term dates back to World War II when large fleets of allied bombers would conduct attacks in missions containing large numbers of aircraft.

The maneuver is now performed to show the capability of the units, as well as teamwork, and is often used to prepare pilots for the launching of fully armed aircraft in on masse, according to Taiwan's Air Force.

Following the "elephant walk," Major Yen hsiang-sheng (???), one of the F-16V pilots, also showcased a high-tech helmet he used that uses the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS).

According to Yen, the JHMCS provides the pilot with "first look, first shoot" high off-boresight weapons engagement capabilities.

The system enables the pilot to acquire critical information, such as targeting cues and aircraft performance parameters displayed directly on the pilot's visor, without the need to check the Head-Up Display (HUD) as they used to, Yen said.

According to the Air Force, a high-tech helmet installed with the cutting edge system costs NT$10 million (US$362,233).

Wednesday's drill was part of a three-day public demonstration open to the media to show Taiwan's combat readiness prior to the Lunar New Year long-break at the end of this month.

The drill was held as tensions across the Taiwan Strait have increased over the past few years, with Chinese military aircraft making almost daily incursions into the southwestern part of the nation's Air Defense Identification Zone and Taiwan's Air Force sending aircraft to intercept them.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel