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AIDC Rectifies Media Reports on Schedule Slippage of F-16A/B Upgrade Program

A few media outlets have mistakenly reported that F-16A/B Upgrade Program lagged behind schedule as a result of an AIDC manpower shortage and have suggested that AIDC had reallocated its staff from the F-16A/B Upgrade Program to the Advanced Jet Trainer Program. Such reports not only are incorrect and inaccurate but also has tarnished AIDC’s reputation, to which AIDC has expressed disappointment and has provided following statement to rectify inaccurate media reports:

The F-16A/B fighter jet has been guarding Taiwan’s airspace for over the past two decades. This upgrade program was implemented by AIDC to upgrade this important aircraft platform to a much higher technologically advanced version which will greatly enhance Taiwan’s military defensive capabilities. During the upgrading process, certain components and parts which were not contemplated in the upgrade plan were discovered requiring repair or replacement which were undertaken with the original equipment manufacturer or its authorized service provider. Securing the material availability of fully operational and certified repairs and replacements was a very time consuming process which resulted in schedule delays to the upgrade program. But at the same time, it increased aircraft reliability with having certain components and parts repaired or replaced.

Prior to the first quarter of 2019, the delivery progress was indeed affected by an unexpected increase in the number of work items which were not contemplated in the original upgrade program schedule and which the AIDC workforce could not complete within lead-times and thus resulted in a schedule slippage. However, to recover such deficits, AIDC has in the past six months recruited and trained over two hundred engineers and technicians dedicated to the upgrade program. As a result, there has been significant improvement in the monthly aircraft delivery rate and a gradual recovery to the original program schedule.

AIDC‘s technical capability is recognized by the original manufacturer of the F-16. Currently, AIDC employs an excess of seven thousand staff members, from which talents with maintenance and testing specialties were applied to the F-16A/B Upgrade Program while the AJT team concentrates on testing, qualification and manufacturing of the new aircraft. The AJT Program will not proceed to the mass production stage until the prototype successfully completes flight and qualification testing. As the staff members assigned to the two programs have different specialties, there is no possibility the work force assigned to the F-16A/B Upgrade Program would be transferred to the AJT Program. Furthermore, the workforce of the two programs does not overlap with the other.

The F-16A/B Upgrade Program and the AJT Program are both tasks of paramount importance that the country has entrusted to AIDC. As such, AIDC will assure the availability of required resources to successfully achieve both of these crucial objectives for the defense of Taiwan.