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US to extend its training of Taiwanese F-16 pilots

June 15, 2005 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The US has agreed to extend a Taipei-Washington pact to train Taiwan's F16 pilots for five more years, a Taiwanese newspaper said yesterday.

RoCAF F-16A block 20 #6660 is passing overhead at Hua-lien AFB on November 13th, 2004. Note the new tail markings of the Taiwanese AF. [A.S.I.A. Archives Images photo by Rossi T]

Quoting an unnamed US official, a Chinese-language newspaper said the US renewed the agreement for training Taiwanese F-16 pilots at Luke Airbase in Arizona for another five years, starting next year.

"The training program covers air-to-air combat, night attack, blockage over the sea, air engagement and air command," the paper said in a dispatch from Washington.

The US agreed to sell Taipei 150 F-16 warplanes in 1992 thus becoming the 18th F-16 customer.

The air force sent an F-16 squadron to the US in 1997 under a training program which ends at the end of this year. The program is conducted at the US Air Force's 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB in Arizona.