Taiwan, U.S. companies ink MOU on F-16 upgrades
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, July 12 (CNA) Taiwan's Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC) said Thursday it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with U.S.-based Lockheed Martin to pursue opportunities for Taiwan's F-16 A/B retrofit program.
The MOU, signed Wednesday, is aimed at expanding the bilateral strategic relationship and also defines potential collaboration "on F-16 retrofit modifications, F-16 component parts manufacture and other potential offset projects," the AIDC said in a statement.
The AIDC is "determined to work with Lockheed Martin" to meet the requirements of Taiwan's Air Force on upgrading its aging F-16A/B fleet, AIDC President Butch Hsu said in the statement.
The MOU comes at a time when Taiwan and the United States are preparing to seal a deal to retrofit Taiwan's 145 F-16A/B jet fighters at a cost of roughly US$3.8 billion.
Last September, the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama approved the F-16 A/B retrofit and a training package.
Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the F-16 airplane models, is likely to win the contract for the retrofit program, according to AIDC spokesman Mike Lee.
"The MOU will ensure that the upgrades are done in Taiwan if Lockheed Martin wins the contract," Lee said in an interview with CNA.
Roderick McLean, vice president of F-16 Programs at Lockheed Martin, also expressed confidence that the "collaboration effort will position both of our companies to better support our Taiwan customer," according to the AIDC statement.
Meanwhile, the AIDC said it is seeking to build a maintenance and overhaul center in Taiwan with Lockheed Martin for the F-16 program.
The AIDC, which comes under the Ministry of Economic Affairs portfolio, is a leading aerospace company in Taiwan that developed the IDF jet fighter, one the country's main combat aircraft.
(By Elaine Hou)
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