TAIPEI — Taiwan signed an the agreement with the U.S. government for a $3.7 billion upgrade to its existing 146 F-16A/B Block 20 fighter aircraft.
The letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) was signed on July 13 during a meeting in Washington, D.C., said a defense industry source in Taipei. The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency under the Foreign Military Sales program will administer the competition for the upgrade program.
The most heated competition will be between Northrop Grumman and Raytheon over who will win the active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar contract. Northrop is offering the Scalable Agile Beam Radar against the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar. Both radars will also compete in South Korea’s upgrade for 135 KF-16C/D Block 52 fighters, and a possible AESA competition later for Singapore’s F-16s.
Over the past year, BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin have battled over the contract to upgrade the F-16s, but BAE’s efforts appear all for naught. Local defense industry sources say Lockheed has locked-down the deal for offset agreements for the upgrade with Taiwan’s state-run Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC). AIDC and Lockheed signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on July 11 to form a strategic partnership to facilitate the F-16 upgrade program. Butch Hsu, AIDC president, and Ana Wugofski, Lockheed’s vice president of international business development, signed the MoU at the Farnborough International Airshow.
“Lockheed Martin and AIDC have been working together for many years supporting Taiwan’s F-16. We are impressed with AIDC’s capability, and we are looking forward to the opportunity to expand this relationship as we begin to implement the Taiwan F-16 upgrade program,” said Laura Siebert, Lockheed’s F-16 media representative.
AIDC manufactured the F-CK-1 Ching-kuo Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) and the A/T-3 Tzu Chiang attack trainer jet trainer during the 1980s and 1990s. Currently, AIDC is implementing a midlife upgrade for the IDF.