An Airman’s Empathy

Many of the same issues currently confronting the US Air Force also are at play with the Taiwanese as they seek to modernize their aging F-16 fleet, said Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Gary North. “We have a 24-year-old average fighter fleet, too,” North told reporters Tuesday at AFA’s Air & Space Conference outside of Washington, D.C. “The next issue is how long does [a] fleet maintain its relevance. Because ultimately, the fleet will have so many hours [that] it will have to be replaced.” North’s comments came as news surfaced that the United States is offering Taiwan an upgrade package for its F-16A/Bs. The Taiwanese had sought new F-16C/Ds. Retrofitting the F-16A/Bs with new gear will enhance these fighters’ lifespan, but the Taiwanese still will be dealing with airframes that are old, just like USAF, said North. “Speaking as an airman, every nation has the right to self defense and the right to modernize,” he said.