F-16 Retrofit for Taiwan

The Pentagon notified Congress of a possible $5.3 billion foreign military sale to Taiwan to upgrade 145 Taiwanese F-16A/B fighters. The Obama Administration did not go as far as approving Taiwan’s request for 66 new-build F-16C/Ds as some lawmakers like Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) have been urging (see Cornyn statement). A senior Administration official said Wednesday that request “is still under consideration” and “no decisions” were made in that regard at this time. The retrofit package that the White House is offering would improve the “capability, survivability, and reliability” of Taiwan’s F-16A/Bs and “greatly enhance the recipient’s ability to defend its borders,” according to Wednesday’s Pentagon release. If Congress approves the deal, the Taiwanese F-16s would get active electronically scanned array radars, new weapons systems like AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, and structural upgrades, among the improvements. There would also be a study on whether to replace the fighters’ engines. The Administration also is offering Taiwan a five-year extension of F-16 pilot training at Luke AFB, Ariz., and spare parts for its C-130s, F-5s, and F-16s, bringing the total value of this proposed arms package up to $5.85 billion. (State Department background briefing transcript)