Friday, March 19, 2010

Taiwan actually needs F-35B fighters, not F-16 C/Ds

An F-35B is vertically landing

To protect Taiwan, only F-35B fighters are the right choice for Taiwan air force, but not F-16 C/D fighters.

March 18, Lockheed Martin announced in a statement that an F-35B-type stealth fighter successfully implemented vertical landing in Patuxent River Naval Air Force base, Maryland.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency said in its evaluation report to the Congress that Taiwan has about 400 aircraft in service, but only a few have actual combat capability.

According to this report, Taiwan's existing 60 U.S. F-5 fighter jets, only about half could play a role. The range and the combat capability of the 126 IDF "Ching-kuo" fighters are insufficient. As the 56 French "Mirage" 2000-5 fighters, the report said, although they have advanced features, the cost for their repairs is high, and the repairs are affecting by lacking of vital parts. The report also pointed out that Taiwan's air force now has 146 F16 A/B fighters, and they are also waiting to be upgraded.

Since 2006, Taiwan has had intention to purchase 66 F-16 C/D fighters. Due to the pressure from Beijing, the Pentagon has not approved this arm sale to Taiwan till now.

As we know, Taiwan is so geographically close to the mainland of China. If it were under the attack from China, the runways of Taiwan’s fighters would be the first targets of China’s missiles and rockets. The advanced F-16 C/Ds may not find a way to take off in such situation. On this point of view, Taiwan needs actually the F-35B stealth fighters with vertical take-off and landing capabilities.

Because it is so difficult for Taiwan to get F16 C/D fighters from U.S., maybe people will ask, is it possible for Taiwan to get F-35B fighters?