Taiwan unveiled four new F-16V fighters Monday amid growing tension between Taiwan and China over the self-governing island’s perceived independence.
The Taiwanese ministry of defense says the first four of Taiwan’s F-16V Lightning II fighters have entered service with the air force, joining a squad of 18 other F-16 Vs.
Taiwan began getting the air force’s first F-16V fighters in November 2017 and began introducing them in 2018, using them in short conflict zones near Taiwan.
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President Tsai Ing-wen says the F-16V “has expanded our fighter arsenal by delivering tough air-to-air combat capability that can clearly thwart attacks on Taiwan.”
She added that the F-16V “is especially good for crisis management and enabling the country to handle crises from an early stage.”
Taiwan said the F-16Vs are equipped with advanced long-range air-to-air missiles capable of downing even China’s most advanced aircraft.
Sovereignty on the political hot-button is especially tense given China’s vehement opposition to Taiwan’s de facto independence after the government of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016. China views Taiwan as part of its territory to be united with the mainland.