Defense News reports that U.S. government will probably deny Taiwan's request for 60 new F-16 C/Ds. But, they probably will allow Taiwan's existing F-16 fleet to be upgraded with AESA radar, and several other new features.
Back in 2006 Taiwan filed a request with the U.S. to purchase 60 new F-16 C/D Block 50/52s, ever since then the State Department has been denying Taiwan's request because of Chinese pressure. However, while the request for the new F-16s looks like it will be denied, the U.S. will probably allow Taiwan's existing 146 F-16 A/B Block 20s to be upgraded with several new features.
These features will include a new AESA radar, either Northrop Grumman's Scalable Agile Beam Radar or the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar to replace the current APG-66(V)3. Lockheed Martin will also add the BRU-57A Twin Stores carrier which will double the number of bombs the F-16s can carry. The upgrade package will also include updates to the F-16s ALQ-184(V)7 ECM pods, and/or offer the newer ALQ-211 Electronic Warfare Suite pod as an alternative. Other upgrades will include the capability to launch the AIM-9X Sidewinder, equip the F-16s to carry the GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided bomb, a helment mounted cueing system, and a digital threat warning reciever.
Consequences for the U.S. following the offer of the upgrades and/or the new F-16s, China could cause problems for the U.S. economy due to the fact that they hold over 1 trillion dollars of our debt, and would not be happy if the upgrades of the fighters are offered. Also, if the upgrades are offered, and the offer taken, the radar the Taiwanese chose, would probably be the radar the U.S. Air force chooses to replace the old radars on it's F-16 fleet.
However, most of the above is just speculation as the decision will not be made before October 1st, but it seems likely that at the least the upgrades would be offered to Taiwan, as a sort of consolation prize. While it is unlikely that the new F-16s will be offered, the Obama administration might offer the F-16s as it would create an estimated 16,000 jobs, and the upcoming 2012 election will be all about jobs and the economy.
Photo Credit: USAF