Regardless of the outcome to the F-16 sale, Taiwan's premier aerospace company is looking forward to a busy schedule in the coming years
State-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corp (AIDC, 漢翔航空) is facing promising prospects for the coming years, with an advanced trainer program in the works and the likelihood of a major role in a possible F-16A/B upgrade project.
One of the main projects AIDC is working on is a new advanced and completely indigenous trainer, Mike Lee (李適彰), secretary-general of the National Defense Industrial Association of Sino (中華國防工業發展協會), told the Taipei Times on the sidelines of the Taipei Aerospace and Defense Technology Exhibition yesterday.
The firm has been working on a XAT-5 prototype, a twin-engine trainer that, according to some industry analysts, could be based on the Indigenous Defense Fighter’s (IDF) airframe.
Although he would not provide a time frame and said the air force had yet to green-light a specific model, Lee, who also serves as a special assistant to AIDC chairman Jason Liu (劉介岑), said the next few years would be the perfect time to introduce a new trainer to replace the twin-engine AT-3 — also manufactured by AIDC — that entered service in 1984.
Turning to the mid-life upgrade of Taiwan’s 130 F-CK-1A/B “Ching Kuo” IDFs, Lee said work on the first 71 aircraft was continuing and provided the air force had the budget, a second-phase upgrade, which would complete the remainder of the fleet, could be launched at some point. The first phase of the program has delivered six upgraded aircraft so far.
My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here with updates on a possible AIDC role for the F-16A/B upgrades and F-16C/Ds, as well as the possible development of a fifth-generation fighter and the IDF-II “goshawk.”