Taiwan’s F-16 Jets to receive U.S.-made AGM-154 Bombs: Strengthening defence capabilities amidst rising tensions

Taiwan’s defence capabilities are set to receive a significant boost as the Pentagon awards a manufacturing contract to supply AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) glide bombs for the island’s fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcon jets.

Taiwan’s defence capabilities are poised for a substantial upgrade following the Pentagon’s decision to award a manufacturing contract to supply AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) glide bombs for the island’s fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcon jets. The contract, granted to Raytheon Missile Systems, signifies a crucial step in Taiwan’s pursuit of advanced ground-attack capabilities, particularly amidst escalating tensions with neighbouring China.

With Taiwan’s fleet of F-16s expected to expand significantly, Taiwan is on track to become the largest operator of the F-16 airframe in Asia. The acquisition of AGM-154 bombs, valued at $68.42 million, holds strategic importance for Taiwan’s defence strategy, providing enhanced precision and standoff capabilities crucial for deterrence and defence against potential military threats.

The JSOW’s impressive range of 13-80 miles coupled with its “fire-and-forget” precision capability significantly bolsters Taiwan’s ability to conduct standoff strikes from extended distances, ensuring engagements remain beyond the reach of enemy defences. Scheduled for delivery by 2028, these weapons represent a key component of Taiwan’s ongoing efforts to modernize its defence arsenal and safeguard its sovereignty.

The United States’ obligation to assist Taiwan in enhancing its defensive capabilities is firmly established in the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, reflecting a longstanding commitment to ensuring Taiwan’s security against possible military challenges. The decision to supply AGM-154 bombs underscores Washington’s steadfast support for Taiwan’s security amidst growing concerns over China’s assertive actions in the region.

Taiwan’s acquisition of the JSOW is part of a broader trend of strengthening defence ties between Taipei and Washington. This trend, initiated during the administration of former President Donald Trump, continues to garner bipartisan support in the United States, reflecting shared concerns over the power imbalance across the Taiwan Strait and the need to maintain stability in the region.

Despite the absence of formal diplomatic relations, the United States remains resolute in its support for Taiwan’s defence, emphasizing the importance of deterring Chinese military aggression and preserving regional stability. The pending integration of AGM-154 bombs into Taiwan’s F-16 fleet underscores the enduring partnership between Taipei and Washington in safeguarding regional security and upholding shared democratic values.