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Taiwan reports progress in new indigenous fighter development

Taiwan is conducting research to indigenously develop a next-generation fighter aircraft for the Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF), Art Chang, president of the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), said on 15 April, according to the state-owned Central News Agency (CNA).

Replying to a question asked by a lawmaker during a session of the Legislative Yuan (Taiwan’s Parliament), Chang confirmed that work on the new platform is currently in the first stage of research and development (R&D), with work being conducted concurrently on the aircraft’s engine and overall design.

According to Chang, a total of TWD10.5 billion (USD370.6 million) has been budgeted for this first phase of R&D – about TWD8.8 billion for engine and TWD1.7 billion for aircraft design – which is expected to be completed in 2024.

No information was provided about the future development and production milestones in the programme.

Plans to locally develop a new fighter aircraft for the RoCAF were first revealed by Chang in 2017, with a budget proposal for the development programme sent to the Legislative Yuan for approval later that year.

In 2018 Taiwan launched a 10-year plan led by NCSIST to develop the aircraft’s engine, which will reportedly be based on the TFE-1042-70 engine used by the Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) F-CK-1 Ching Kuo multirole Indigenous Defence Fighter (IDF). According to Janes World Air Forces, the IDF was inducted into the RoCAF in the mid-1990s. An estimated 127 of these aircraft are currently in service.

The latest developments come after AIDC announced on 2 March that its T-5 Yung Yin (‘Brave Eagle’) advanced jet trainer (AJT)/light fighter aircraft would soon be handed over to the RoCAF to undergo operational testing and evaluation.

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