Taiwan to commission F-16V combat squadron in Chiayi this week

Taiwan's first F-16V (Viper) combat wing will be officially commissioned in a ceremony at the Air Force's Chiayi Base in southern Taiwan on Nov. 18, according to a military source.

During the ceremony, over 15 fighter jets will take part in aerial maneuvers, performing formation flying, while a F-16V solo demonstration will be held to highlight the capabilities of the jet, the military source told CNA recently.

In addition, the nation's Thunder Tigers aerobatic display team will put on a performance, the source added.

The United States-based security and aerospace company, Lockheed Martin, and Taiwan's Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. are upgrading 141 F-16A/B fighter jets to F-16V jets at a cost of NT$110 billion (US$3.95 billion).

In addition to the retrofit program that is still ongoing, Taiwan has also purchased 66 new F-16Vs from the U.S., with delivery expected to start in 2023.

The Air Force has already successfully upgraded at least 42 of the 141 F-16 A/B jet fighters to the F-16V standards, according to the military source.

A commissioning ceremony for the upgraded jets was originally to be held at Chiayi Air Base in April but the event was postponed to Nov. 18 due to a domestic COVID-19 outbreak in Taiwan, the source said.

The core of the F-16V configuration is an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, which provides multimode surveillance capability and has improved all-environment precision strike capability compared with the radar for the older F-16s, according to Chieh Chung (??), an associate research fellow with the National Policy Foundation in Taipei.

The multi-role F-16V is highly maneuverable as it integrates advanced capabilities, said Su Tzu-Yun(???), a senior researcher at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research.

The F-16Vs, widely regarded as having the same "DNA" as that of advanced F-35 and F-22 fighter jets, are expected to boost the nation's air defense and combat capabilities in the future, he added.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel