Taiwan's F-16 Fighters Slightly Damaged in Earthquake

ROCAF confirmed minor damage to F-16s from shaking, but assured repairs won't affect combat readiness.
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 05:38 AM, April 4, 2024
  • 1244
Taiwan's F-16 Fighters Slightly Damaged in Earthquake
ROCAF F-16 fighter

Taiwan's Air Force has confirmed that six of its F-16 Block 72 fighter jets stationed at Hualien Air Force Base sustained minor damages during the massive earthquake that struck the island nation on April 3.

The earthquake, measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale, was the most powerful to hit Taiwan in the last 25 years, claiming the lives of nine individuals and injuring over 900.

The earthquake's epicenter was off the coast of Hualien, on the eastern side of the island, striking at 7:58 AM local time. Television broadcasts showcased the aftermath, depicting buildings askew in the sparsely populated eastern region. Amidst the impact, Hualien Air Force Base, home to the Republic of China Air Force's (ROCAF) 5th Tactical Composite Wing, reported damage to its fleet of F-16V and F-5 aircraft.

According to ROCAF officials, the affected F-16 Block 72 fighters suffered minor scratches and damage primarily caused by collisions due to the shaking and movement of the boarding ladder. However, the Air Force Command assured that these damages could be promptly repaired without compromising the combat readiness of the aircraft.

Interestingly, just hours before the earthquake struck, the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense (MOD) had taken to social media to announce the detection of 30 Chinese aircraft and nine ships in the vicinity of the island. Of these, 20 aircraft had penetrated the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) as part of ongoing military drills.

Taiwan’s F-16 fleet

ROCAF operates upgraded F-16V Block 72 jets armed with a variety of weapons, including AIM-120C-7 AMRAAM, AIM-9X/L Sidewinder missiles, GBU-12 Paveway II bombs, AGM-65 Maverick missiles, Mk-82 and Mk-84 bombs, and GBU-10 Paveway II bombs. Additionally, these jets possess AGM-84 Harpoon capability, serving as a deterrent against PLAN activities in the Taiwan Strait. Achieving Full Operational Capability in November 2021, Taiwan became the first operator of upgraded F-16V Block 72 jets. Originally planning to upgrade 144 F-16A/B Block 20 jets under "Peace Phoenix Rising," Taiwan eventually upgraded 141 jets, with 64 already completed and handed over to the ROCAF. Upgrades include the installation of APG-83 AESA radar, Link 16 datalink, NVIS, JHCMS II compatibility, EGI, and modern avionics subsystems. Lockheed Martin initially upgraded a prototype in 2015, followed by Taiwan's AIDC. The retrofit of the entire fleet is slated for completion by 2023. In addition, Taiwan acquired 66 new F-16V Block 70 jets in 2019, scheduled for delivery from 2023 to 2026 and assigned to the 7th TFW at Taitung Air Base. Plans for "Peace Phoenix Rising 2" include enhancing AGCAS, integrating AGM-88 HARM, improving radar software, and implementing an Advanced Identification Friend or Foe system alongside existing upgrades.

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