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Ma touts locally developed weapons systems

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday praised the high quality of locally developed weapons systems during a ceremony to mark the completion of the first batch of upgraded indigenous defense fighter (IDF) jets and the installation of a new weapons system.

During yesterday's ceremony held at a southern Tainan Air Base, Ma recalled that critics had cast doubt over these local fighters' combat readiness when the model first showed up more than two decades ago.

“Many people laughed at these fighters, saying the initials 'IDF' should stand for 'I don't fly,'” Ma said.

However, these fighters have proven their defense capability over their 20 years in service and now the IDF should stand for “I do fly” and “I do fight,” he said.

Following the upgrades, these locally-made fighters can rival the American-made F-16 fighter jets, the president said, and the latest upgrade can help Taiwan to better defend itself.

Yesterday's ceremony was also attended by Defense Minister Yen Ming as well as various government officials and lawmakers.

The locally-built IDF “Ching-Kuo” (經國號) fighters were developed and manufactured by the Taichung-based Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. in 1988. The aircraft was named after the late President Chiang Ching-Kuo (蔣經國).

In a move to upgrade these fighters, the MND has decided to spend NT$17 billion upgrading 71 IDFs as part of a four-year project that began in 2009.

Wan Chien Cluster Bomb

The upgrade program was mainly to strengthen the air-to-land strike capacity of the jets, the Air Force said.

All of the IDF C/D fleet at the Tainan base is now capable of carrying the Wan Chien missile system (萬劍飛彈).

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President Ma Ying-jeou, center, stands up in a car on his way to a ceremony at an air base in southern Tainan, yesterday. Ma praised the high quality of locally developed weapons systems during the ceremony, which was held to mark the completion of the first batch of upgraded indigenous defense fighter (IDF) jets and the installation of a new weapons system.

(CNA)

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