Taiwan’s Defence Minister, Chiu Kuo-cheng, announced on Thursday that the delivery of 66 advanced F-16V fighter jets from the United States is delayed due to supply chain disruptions.
In 2019, the United States approved an $8 billion sale of Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan. This deal would expand Taiwan’s F-16 fleet to over 200 jets, making it the largest in Asia.
The expansion aims to bolster Taiwan’s defenses against an increased threat from China, which considers Taiwan as part of its territory.
Taiwan has been upgrading 141 F-16A/B jets to the F-16V version and has also ordered 66 new F-16Vs. These new aircraft feature advanced avionics, weapons, and radar systems to better counter the Chinese air force, including the J-20 stealth fighter.
The first new F-16V was initially scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter of this year. However, due to pandemic-related supply chain disruptions, the delivery has been postponed to the third quarter of next year.
Chiu mentioned that Taiwan requested the United States to “make up the deficiency,” including prioritizing spare part deliveries for the existing fleet. “Multiple channels are being used, and we are minimizing the damage from this,” he said. Taiwan still expects to receive the full order before 2026.
To address the issue, the Ministry is utilizing diplomatic channels, such as the de facto U.S. embassy in Taipei, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). Neither the AIT nor Lockheed Martin has immediately responded to requests for comment.
Since last year, Taiwan has expressed concerns about delays in U.S. weapons deliveries, including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. Manufacturers have redirected supplies to Ukraine, which is fighting invading Russian forces. This issue has caught the attention of U.S. lawmakers.
Michael McCaul, chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, visited Taipei last month and assured that he is doing everything possible to expedite arms deliveries to Taiwan.