MELBOURNE, Australia — Taiwan has completed an upgrade program of its indigenous fighter fleet, with the last two upgraded aircraft handed over to the country’s Air Force on Thursday.
According to a news report by the Taiwanese military’s official news agency, Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation handed over the upgraded F-CK-1 Ching-kuo Indigenous Defense Fighter in a ceremony attended by Air Force Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. Hu Kai-Hung.
The ceremony marks the completion of Phase 2 the Hsiang-chan program to upgrade 56 aircraft to F-CK-1C/D standard. Phase 1 of the program saw 71 aircraft upgraded starting from 2009.
The upgraded aircraft feature a new glass cockpit, a 32-bit flight control computer and improved electronic warfare capabilities. The landing gear was strengthened and a digital anti-skid system added, although earlier plans to fit conformal fuel tanks to the fleet was abandoned.
The aircraft will also be able to carry the Wan Chien air-to-ground, subsonic standoff cruise missile developed by Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, or NCSIST, which was first seen in 2014 and believed to have a range of about 150 miles.
Meanwhile, Air Force officials have met with representatives from France to discuss the possibility of upgrading Taiwan’s fleet of Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter jets. Taiwanese Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Cheng Rong-Feng told Taiwanese legislators Thursday that a request was submitted during a defense cooperation meeting between the two countries in June.
He added that France has since sought information from the Taiwanese Air Force regarding the scope of work for any potential upgrade program, as well as the number of aircraft earmarked for the upgrade. However, following the briefing, Taiwan’s parliament decided to freeze funds for the upgrade pending a written report about the program from the service.
Taiwan has already separately allocated $16.7 million for the NCSIST to carry out the life extension of the Mirage 2000’s Mica and Magic 2 air-to-air missiles. Taiwan operates 55 Mirage 2000-5 fighters out of 60 originally delivered in 1997 and 1998.
The Air Force is also in the midst of upgrading 144 Lockheed Martin F-16A/B Fighting Falcon fighter jets, which will be fitted with the active electronically scanned Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar, a new mission computer and an electronic warfare suite.
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.