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Taiwan preparing to replace F-5 with Brave Eagles

Taiwan is preparing to retire its Northrop F-5E/F fleet from operational service before the end of 2023. (Annabelle Chih/Getty Images)

Taiwan's Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF) is preparing to withdraw its ageing Northrop F-5 E/F Tiger II fleet from operational service by the end of 2023 and replace them with Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) T-5 Brave Eagle trainers.

In a statement on its Youth DailyNews newspaper on 28 November, the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defence (MND) said , “[The] F-5E/F fighter aircraft will soon be relieved of its training tasks. Only the RF-5E reconnaissance aircraft modified from the F-5E fighter aircraft will continue to be used.”

The newspaper added that the Brave Eagle will be used for “air-defence readiness and pilot training”.

In a press statement, the MND said the RoCAF's force of five RF-5E surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft will remain in service until Taiwan acquires six Collins Aerospace MS-110 multispectral airborne reconnaissance system pods and four General Atomics MQ-9B unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) currently on order.

The pods are expected to be integrated with the RoCAF's Lockheed Martin F-16V fleet and will boost the air force's long-range air reconnaissance capability.

Currently, the RF-5Es are involved in general combat training missions – in addition to “land exploration and disaster rescue”, the MND said.

The aircraft has “photographed disaster conditions after the September 21 earthquake and Typhoon Morakot for reference by search-and-rescue units,” the MND added.

The T-5 Brave Eagle is an advanced fighter trainer and light-attack aircraft. Taiwan has ordered 66 aircraft. AIDC is scheduled to deliver the aircraft to the RoCAF by 2026. It is unclear how many T-5s have entered service. The RoCAF did not respond to a Janes

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