Taiwan unveils F-16V fighter jet amid tension with China

Image copyright AFP Image caption Taiwanese Prime Minister Tsai Ing-wen unveils the new fighters during a ceremony in Tainan

Taiwan has unveiled its new generation of F-16V fighters, state media reports.

An image released on Monday showed the presidential office and parliament building illuminated by a red diamond as the new fighters sat on their launch pad.

The show of strength comes amid growing tensions with China.

Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949 but Beijing still considers the island part of its territory.

Explosions, jets, and lights

A statement from the presidential office said the aircraft were fitted with advanced defensive features including dual-mode radar and heat-seeking missiles.

“This is a symbol of the Republic of China’s commitment to defence,” it said, using Taiwan’s official name.

“The 26th Chinese Taipei Armed Forces Unit already has trained pilots who have seen the F-16V in flight.”

Taiwan is the world’s fourth largest user of F-16s, but has only 120 aircraft in its military arsenal, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).

China’s military budget has tripled over the past decade to over $250bn (£191bn).

The F-16V has been kept on ice for over 10 years due to an embargo on military cooperation between the US and China.

Two-way trade between the two countries has been recovering, which Taiwan’s government believes represents an opportunity to allow the stealth aircraft’s production.

China has responded with accusations of “raising extreme displays of military strength,” according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Monday’s launch ceremony was aimed at pushing Taipei’s military weakness.

“We hope the relevant government can make sure that the arms the Taiwan side is pushing into existence doesn’t cause any military troubles, and have a broad perspective in ensuring peace on the Taiwan Strait.”

Since 2009 Taiwan has deployed fighter jets and weapons systems to Sepei in a desperate bid to project the island’s military strength to China’s east.

In September, a state flag was put up in the city and special streets were created for military parades.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who took office in 2016, has refused to commit her country to abiding by Beijing’s “one China” policy.

Leave a Comment