Published: November 10, 2023
Last Updated: November 10, 2023
Taiwan’s F-16 upgrade program nearing end
On 10 November 2023, Chung-Hua Min Guo Kong Jun (RoCAF, Republic of China Air Force) upgraded F-16V 6691 made the last single-seat F-16 test flight at the Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) Shalu plant at Taichung /Cingcyuangang airport.
The upgrade program will be finished within a month, when according to schedule two-seaters 6807 and 6805 will finish their test flights and will be re-delivered to the RoCAF no later than 20 December 2023.
However, four more F-16s will finish their upgrade before the end of January 2024, but will not perform any high speed taxi tests or test flights. These four aircraft, serials 6605, 6607, 6604, 6621, were among the first six aircraft returning from Luke AFB (AZ) to Taiwan in 2021. Scramble Magazine reported first on this return in May 2021. After their return to Taiwan the airframes were inspected and it seemed that there were too many issues with the airframes. The fighters will still go through the upgrade program, but after completion the aircraft will be taken apart and shipped by C-130H Hercules to Hualien AFB or Pintung AFB for storage. The reasoning behind this upgrade is not known, only that they are part of the total contract and the program has to be closed.
In 2012, Taiwan signed a USD 3.7 billion contract with Lockheed Martin to upgrade a total of 144 F-16A/B Block 20s to the latest F-16 Block 72 variant, also reported as the F-16V, for the RoCAF.
On 18 November 2021, the RoCAF’s 4th Tactical Fighter Wing at Chiayi air base celebrated the milestone of being the first unit in the world reaching Full Operational Capability (FOC) on the upgraded F-16A and F-16B Block 72V variant, also reported as the F-16V. Scramble Magazine reported on this ceremony in November 2021.
Credit photos: Tsungfang Tsai