US to sell aircraft tracking system to Taiwan amid Chinese military pressure

Credit: Lockheed Martin

The US has agreed to sell to Taiwan a system which will enable its F-16 fighters to detect and track enemy aircraft using infrared technology.  

Taipei will use the system to counter ongoing Chinese military pressure near the island. 

Additionally, Taiwan has allocated an extra $2.97 billion to buy weapons in 2024, including fighter jets, government officials announced on August 24, 2023. 

The $500 million sale of the Infrared Search and Track (IRST) systems and related equipment is expected to officially come “into effect” in approximately one month. 

“Taiwan will continue to demonstrate our firm commitment to self-defense and bolster our all-out defense capabilities to uphold our national security and protect our interests,” Presidential Office Spokesperson Olivia Lin said in a statement. 

Taiwan Defense Minister, Po Horng-huei, told reporters in a press briefing on August 24, 2023, that the IRST technology will be the same as that employed by the US’ most modern aircraft, the F-35 and F-22. 

Lockheed Martin will be the prime contractor for the aircraft tracking system. Previously, the company also helped with Taipei’s fighter jet fleet update.  

Taiwan has already converted 141 F-16A/B jets into F-16Vs and ordered 66 additional F-16Vs with new radar, vastly updated weaponry, and avionics, to better compete with China’s Air Force, particularly its J-20 stealth fighters. 

“The recipient will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces,” the US State Department said in a statement. 

It is the 11th military sale to Taiwan under US President Joe Biden’s administration and the third sale in 2023. 

“There will be no adverse impact on US defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale,” the US State Department statement added. 

However, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin urged the US to “stop the dangerous trend of arming the island,” Beijing-based daily Global Times reported. 

Beijing “will take resolute, powerful measures to safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Wang said, following the recent sale. 

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