Software problems delay F-16 deliveries to US, Taiwan says

Taiwan’s order for 66 new advanced F-16V fighter jets from the United States will not be completed until 2026 due to software issues, Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said Thursday, marking the latest delay in deliveries of American weapons since the manufacturers turned their attention to Ukraine. after the invasion of Russia last year.

Earlier this month, the self-governing island’s defense minister said the delay was due to supply chain disruptions, but on Thursday he added the delay was due to software issues flight control.

“In principle, by 2026, all 66 planes will arrive. There is absolutely no problem with that,” Chiu told reporters in parliament.

FILE – Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng speaks during a parliamentary session in Taipei, Taiwan, April 6, 2023.

The United States approved the $8 billion sale of Lockheed Martin Corp. fighter jets. F-16s to Taiwan in 2019. Once completed, the deal will grow the island’s F-16 fleet to more than 200 aircraft, the most in Asia, according to Reuters. .

Strengthening the defense is important for Taiwan amid growing fears that China is trying to take the island – which Beijing claims as its own – by force.

Since last year, Taiwan has been complaining about delays in US arms deliveries, including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. Manufacturers sourced from Ukraine after Russia invaded last year.

But for the US House of Representatives Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, delivering weapons to Taiwan is an urgent priority.

On Wednesday, the committee adopted 10 policy recommendations for Congress, including that the United States should deliver “standby” military equipment that Taiwan had ordered. Several other recommendations also related to strengthening Taiwan’s defense capabilities.

The first two F-16s on the order were supposed to have been delivered between October and December this year, but that was pushed back to July and September 2024, Taiwanese officials said this month.

Lockheed spokeswoman Liz Lutz told Bloomberg that the company is “working closely with the U.S. government to address challenges in support of U.S. security objectives.”

During a visit to Taiwan last month, Representative Michael McCaul, chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee, said he was trying to speed up arms deliveries.

“On the issue of weapons, I approve of these deliveries, and we are doing everything in our power to expedite this,” he said.

Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the Taiwan-American Chamber of Commerce, told VOA Mandarin that foreign military support for Taiwan is “just one piece of the puzzle”.

Xiaoshan Xue contributed to this report. Certain information contained in this report comes from Reuters.

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