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Six Taiwan F-16 Block 72 Fighter Jets Damaged Due to Earthquake

The six F-16 Block 72 jets, along with one F-5 fighter jet, incurred damage due to in-facility collisions when the earthquake rattled Taiwan's main air force base at Hualien, on the eastern part of the island.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — The 7.5 Richter scale earthquake that struck Taiwan has also affected its defense system, with reports from the country indicating damage to its F-16 Block 72 fighter jets.

Reports from the island nation, facing the threat of Chinese incursion, state that at least six F-16 Block 72 fighter jets suffered damage when its military base in Hualien was hit by the earthquake.

Hualien Air Base, situated on the eastern coast of the island, stands among the most critical air force bases in the country. It serves as a strategic location where Taiwan’s air force, primarily F-16 fighter jets, are scrambled to intercept Chinese military aircraft infringing upon Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).

The six F-16 Block 72 jets, along with one F-5 fighter jet, incurred damage due to in-facility collisions when the earthquake rattled Taiwan’s main air force base.

Taiwanese authorities have stated that the damage to the fighter jets is not critical and can be repaired to allow them to resume operations in the near future.

F-16 Taiwan
Taiwan’s F-16

 

However, Taiwanese media outlets have reported that the air base has suffered damages, with cracks appearing on the walls of buildings, rendering barracks and hangars unsafe for use.

Since 2016, Taiwan has been upgrading its 139 F-16 fighter jets to the F-16 Block 70/72 variant in a modernization program estimated to cost US$4.5 billion (RM20.25 billion).

The first upgraded aircraft was delivered to Taiwan in 2018. Taiwan acquired a total of 150 F-16A/B fighter jets in 1992.

The upgrade program, named “Peace Phoenix Rising,” saw the final aircraft in the program successfully upgraded and delivered to Taiwan in December of last year.

 In 2019, Taiwan added an additional 66 Block 70 fighter jets, scheduled for delivery to the island between 2023 and 2026.

The effort to upgrade Taiwan’s F-16 fighter jets to a level comparable to or superior to those of the United States Air Force aims to assist the island in addressing the threat of invasion by its larger neighbor, China.

Taiwan

China maintains that Taiwan is part of its territory and urges the island to return to its fold, whether through peaceful means or force.

The upgrade of Taiwan’s F-16 fighter jets to the Block 70/72 configuration includes equipping the aircraft with Northrop Grumman’s AN/APG-83 Active Electronically-Scanned Array (AESA) radar, Sniper advanced targeting pod, Link 16, Helmet-Mounted Cueing System, GPS navigation, state-of-the-art weapon systems, upgraded modular mission computers, and an ethernet high-speed data network.

Several hours before the earthquake struck Taiwan, the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense announced that 30 Chinese fighter jets and nine warships from the country were detected in Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).

In recent days, the Chinese military has conducted war exercises in the surrounding area with Taiwan. — DSA

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