2012-07-14 — Lockheed Martin inched closer this week to working with Taiwan on upgrading the island nation’s aging fleet of 145 F-16A/Bs.
Taiwan’s state-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. disclosed that its president, Butch Hsu, signed a memorandum of understanding Wednesday with Ana Garcia Wugofski, Lockheed’s vice president of international business development, at the Farnborough International Airshow in Britain, Taiwan’s CNA wire service reported.
Contract negotiations and government approval are ahead, an industry source said. Hsu indicated that he expects the retrofitting to be done in facilities built in Taiwan.
China has long opposed new warplane sales to Taiwan, saying it would damage reunification efforts.
Apparently with that in mind, the Obama administration rejected Taiwan’s request for 66 F-16C/Ds but later notified Congress of its support for a $5.8 billion retrofit package for Taiwan’s old F-16A/Bs.
Lockheed declined to provide details about the memorandum beyond a brief statement: “Lockheed Martin appreciates the confidence that Taiwan has placed in Lockheed Martin and we value our long-standing relationship with the Republic of China Air Force. Any further questions should be addressed by the governments of Taiwan or the United States.”
CNA quoted Aerospace Industrial Development spokesman Mike Lee as saying that the upgrades would create a number of jobs in Taiwan, and would be carried out with Lockheed’s cooperation, provided that the U.S. defense contractor wins the bid to oversee the project.
Only BAE Systems has the capability to carry out the work, but it apparently has not been considered, it said.
Hsu was quoted as saying that the 43-year-old Aerospace Industrial Development will seek Taiwanese government support to build maintenance hangars needed for the F-16 project.
He said it wants to build a world-class maintenance center with the aid of Lockheed Martin, in order “to elevate Taiwan’s ability to conduct its own repairs.”