To Deter China, US Equips Taiwan With ‘Most Powerful’ F-16 Jets Equipped With AIM-120 AMRAAM Missiles

Taiwanese F-16 fighter jets have been upgraded to the latest Block 70/72 standard. The jets were recently spotted in Hawaii where they were retrofitted with new features.

An image of the newly upgraded fighter jets was posted on social media by an aviation enthusiast a few days ago. In the photo, two F-16Vs were spotted, one having the serial number 6621 and the other with 93-708.

The former is a Taiwanese military number while the other is an American one, according to Liberty Times. The aircraft will make a stop at Guam before arriving in Taiwan.

According to reports, many Taiwanese F-16s are in the United States to be retrofitted. On their return, they would be handed over to the Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation for scheduled performance trials.

On May 11, Taiwan’s upgraded F-16V Block 70/72 jets test-fired AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles for the first time within their national boundary. The AIM-120 AMRAAM is a radar-guided air-to-air missile having an impressive combat track record that can engage targets as far as 100-150 kilometers away.

However, the longest kill with the missile has been reported at a distance of 45km when a Syrian Air Force L-39 was shot down by Turkish Air Force F-16s flying inside the Turkish airspace with AIM-120C7 in March 2020.

Meanwhile, this is the first time Taiwanese pilots have conducted test firing of the missile within their national boundary. All previous tests were carried out in the American territory to avoid the risk of retaliation by China, which claims the island nation as its territory.

While the missile has been deployed by the ROCAF (Republic of China Air Force) for nearly 17 years, live-fire tests in Taiwan have been prohibited to avoid any leaks of measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT) to the PLA, Roy Choo, a defense journalist and lead author of a forthcoming book on the ROCAF told The War Zone.

The F-16V

The F-16V Block 70/72 is described as the most advanced F-16 variant by its manufacturer Lockheed Martin. It offers modern avionics and a new aircraft structure that lasts 50% longer than the earlier version.

The F-16 Block 70/72 combines capability upgrades, most notably the advanced APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar with a new avionics architecture, and new software having “advantage of technologies not available when earlier Block F-16s were developed and produced”.

Operational capabilities are enhanced through an advanced datalink, targeting pod and weapons; precision GPS navigation, and the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS), according to the company.

TheAviationGeek reported that Taiwan is actively seeking to acquire AGM-158 JASSM air-launched cruise missile for its F-16s to bolster its firepower as the island nation faces an inevitable threat of a ground invasion by PLA forces.