Taiwan has unveiled its new fleet of state-of-the-art F-16V fighter jets as tensions with China spike over U.S. arms sales to the island.
The government at a ceremony Tuesday evening marked the rollout of F-16V Black Falcons made by Lockheed Martin and made the exclamation point on an ambitious plan to assemble the full squadron of 58 fighters by 2030. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry released a photo of the new jets alongside a second batch of the older F-16A/B models.
China has ramped up pressure on Taiwan and threatened military action if it ever considers independence, and sent its senior military commander to the United States for a major review of U.S. military capabilities during the region’s crisis over the fate of a detained Chinese fishing boat crew last year. The Lixin Naval Force military commander Luo Yuan, at a meeting in Arlington, Va., said China is still developing a joint missile capability for use against both Taiwan and U.S. aircraft carriers.
“This ability will come in time to counter U.S. power projection,” Luo told reporters.
Yuan’s comments were in response to a question about Taiwan’s B-52 strategic bombers and Tien Kung naval attack submarine that had been built on U.S. construction. A week later, China’s defense minister warned that Beijing would go to war to “eradicate Taiwan independence forces” if a referendum calling for Taiwanese independence is approved by the island.
Last year, the United States announced a deal to sell Taiwan F-16 jets and P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft, marking a first-time weapons sale for the government on the democratic island. The deal includes missile defense systems, helicopters and other aircraft.