Taiwan receives letter from U.S. offering sale of F-16s (update)

Taipei-Taiwan has received a draft letter of offer and acceptance (LOA), a contract between the United States military and a foreign military sale customer, detailing its offer to sell 66 F-16V fighter jets to Taiwan, the defense ministry said Thursday.

Having received the draft LOA, Taiwan will now further evaluate its military needs before signing the official LOA and sending it back to the U.S. to finalize the deal, according to the ministry.

Taiwan will examine details such as prices, military equipment and other items and will discuss the offer with the U.S. before signing the official LOA, the ministry said.

In September, Taiwan's Legislature initially approved a draft bill that would allow the government to create a special budget of up to NT$250 billion (US$8.17 billion) to procure the 66 F-16 C/D Block 70 fighter jets, known as F-16Vs.

Lawmakers agreed on Thursday during cross-caucus negotiations to submit the draft bill to the Legislative Yuan for deliberation on Oct. 29, when it is expected to clear the legislative floor.

Taiwan hopes to take delivery of the 66 fighter jets between 2023 and 2026, in accordance with the official procedure for arms procurement from the U.S., the defense ministry said Thursday.

The F-16Vs are expected to be deployed at Zih-Hang Air Base in Taitung County, and Taiwan's Air Force plans to set up a combat squad of up to 1,000 soldiers, according to military sources.

F-16V fighters are equipped with an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar system, upgraded avionics, and a high-volume, high-speed data bus, among other things, according to the sources.

In 2016, the Air Force announced a NT$110 billion program to have its existing fleet of 142 F-16 A/B fights upgraded to the same specifications as the F-16V, with the work expected to be completed by 2022.

The first four F-16s retrofitted by Taiwan's state-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) have completed combat flight testing.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel