Taiwan's Air Force will showcase its upgraded Indigenous Defense Fighters (IDF) Jan. 16, when the Ching-kuo fighter jets will be armed with locally developed Wan Chien weapons systems, the Air Force said Tuesday.
Seventy-one out of more than 120 on-duty IDFs saw upgrades by state-run Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. to reinforce air-to-ground combat capacity on the decade-old jets.
To take some of the burden off of the nation's F-16 fleet, Wan Chien (literally "ten thousand swords") systems have been added to the IDFs, giving the fighters the ability to fire cluster bombs with a range of over 200 kilometers.
The bombs can be launched from the air over the Taiwan Strait to target troop concentrations, defensive positions, and harbors and airstrips on the Chinese mainland, said Lin Yu-fang, a veteran lawmaker and long-time supporter of beefing up national defenses.
The Kuomintang lawmaker said it took NT$3 billion (US$100.6 million) and several years to develop the Wan Chien system, which carries up to 100 warheads and is capable of launching attack from a distance.
So far, 40 of the fighters based in Tainan have been retrofitted to be able to launch the weapon, according to Lin's office.
Another wing based in Taichung is going through the retrofitting process, with all of the fighters expected to be capable of carrying the Wan Chien system by early 2017, the office said.
(By Claudia Liu and Elizabeth Hsu)