The US Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded a contract modification to Raytheon, an RTX subsidiary, on 2 February 2024, to produce and deliver 50 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) air-to-surface missiles (AGM-154 Block III C) for the Government of Taiwan.

Under a modification worth $68.4m, Foreign Military Sales funds will cover $48.8m while the US Government will provide the remaining $20m.

Work will be performed in Goleta, California (1.59%); Joplin, Missouri (1.74%); Loveland, Colorado (1.58%); Minneapolis, Minnesota; Monmouthshire, Wales, UK (7.7%); Minnesota (1.03%); Reading, UK (3.01%); Richardson, Texas (1.12%); Tucson, Arizona (65.29%); Tulsa, Oklahoma (1.11%); Vergennes, Vermont (4.66%); and various location within the continental US (11.17%). The DoD expects the work to be completed in March 2028.

Although US Naval Air Systems Command (NASC) is the contracting activity, and the missile is primarily used in the naval domain, the contract will benefit the Taiwanese Air Force.

According to NASC, the AGM-154C can be used on a wide range of select aircraft across the navy and the air force. These include the F/A-18 C/D/E/F, AV-8B, F-35B/C in the navy, and the F-16 Block 40/50, B-1, B-2, B-52, F-15, F-117, A-10, F-35A aircraft in the air force.

The only aircraft that Taiwan operates in this list is the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

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According to the leading intelligence consultancy GlobalData, in a report entitled Taiwan Defence Market, 2023-2028, the Taiwanese Navy does not operate any aircraft.

However, the air force does currently operate 140 F-16A/Bs, acquired in the early 1990’s – a few years before the JSOW missile first came into service.

Likewise, a potential sale of 66 F-16C/D Block 70 fighter jets (F-16V) to Taiwan was approved by the US government in 2019. Taiwan is also upgrading its existing fleet of 140 F-16s to the F-16V standard.

The F-16V or Viper is the latest variant of the F-16 fourth generation multirole fighter aircraft manufactured by Lockheed Martin. The Viper integrates advanced capabilities as part of an upgrade package to better interoperate with fifth generation fighters, including the F-35 and the F-22.

An F-16V can be armed with a range of air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 Sidewinder, Magic II, and ASRAAM short-range missiles, as well as the AIM-7, Sky Flash, and AIM-120 medium-range AAMs.

Meanwhile, the aircraft also supports the integration of AGM-119/AGM-84/AGM-65G anti-ship missiles and the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground tactical missiles, as well as Paveway laser-guided bombs, GBU-15 bombs, and wind corrected munitions dispenser weapons.