I’ve read several of these stories, but Jennings’s is the only one that included interviews with professors on the political difficulties of Taiwan servicing F-16 jets for the rest of the region.
“The long-term aim of realizing [the maintenance center] as a hub for regional F-16 maintenance, I think this one is so far far-fetched for now, due to political concerns,” said Collin Koh, a maritime security research fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore…“But nonetheless, the way I see it, it’s a good way of marketing this particular hub,” he added. “You prove its capability to be able to maintain the F-16s properly, thereby in the future you may attract potential customers."
Outside countries could avoid a scene with China by arranging F-16 maintenance in Taiwan through non-government channels such as teams of retired engineers, Koh said.
Japan might send F-16s to Taiwan through a non-governmental organization, especially if it’s not the first country to try that route, said Stephen Nagy, senior associate professor of politics and international studies at International Christian University in Tokyo.
Whether China objects “I think that it really depends on how the equipment gets there,” Nagy said. “Don’t expect a direct flight to Taiwan anytime soon, but Taiwan is part of the supply chain.”
I listened to the Q&A session with the chief engineer at the inauguration session in Mandarin. Reporters asked him why they don’t call it the “Asia Pacific F-16 Repair center.” He said first things first, let’s service our own jets.