Taiwan says F-16 deliveries delayed, working to minimise damage

The Taiwanese Defence Minister said that it was due to supply chain disruptions, and that the ministry was working to minimise the damage.


The batch of F-16Vs are to be delivered in the third quarter of 2024 instead of the fourth quarter of 2023. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

May 5, 2023

SINGAPORE – Taiwanese Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said on Thursday the delivery of 66 advanced new F-16Vs from the US has been delayed due to supply chain disruptions, and his ministry was working to minimise the damage and “make up deficiencies”.

The United States in 2019 approved an US$8 billion (S$11 billion) sale of Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan.

The deal would take the island’s F-16 fleet to more than 200 jets, the largest in Asia.

It is aimed at strengthening Taiwan’s defences in the face of a stepped-up threat from China, which claims the island as its own.

Taiwan has been converting 141 F-16A/B jets into the F-16V type and has in addition ordered 66 new F-16Vs, which have new avionics, weapons and radar systems to better face down the Chinese air force, including its J-20 stealth fighter.

The first of the new F-16Vs was meant to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2023, but this has been delayed to the third quarter of 2024 due to pandemic-related supply chain disruptions, the ministry said.

Speaking to reporters at Parliament, Mr Chiu said Taiwan had asked the US to “make up the deficiency”, including prioritising spare part deliveries for the existing fleet.

“Multiple channels are being used, and we are minimising the damage from this,” he said, adding that they still expected to get the full order delivered before 2026.

The Defence Ministry is using diplomatic channels, such as through the de facto US embassy in Taipei, to resolve the problem, Mr Chiu said.

Neither the de facto embassy, the American Institute in Taiwan, nor Lockheed Martin immediately responded to a request for comment.

Taiwan has since 2022 complained of delays to US weapons deliveries, such as Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, as manufacturers turn supplies to Ukraine as it battles invading Russian forces, and the issue has concerned US lawmakers.

Mr Michael McCaul, chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, said during a visit to Taipei in April that he was doing everything possible to speed up arms deliveries. REUTERS

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