Tuesday last week was the 30th anniversary of the first test flight of the F-CK-1 Ching-kuo Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF). Not only has the military spent more on the development of the fighter than on any other arms system, it is also the biggest overall investment the country has ever made in a single project.
It places Taiwan on a par with other countries that have experience developing and producing a complete jet fighter program. It is an expensive learning experience of momentous significance.
Jet fighter design, development, testing, production and feedback require a huge amount of funding, are very time consuming and sometimes even have to be changed.
This has happened in other countries — one example is India’s Tejas jet fighter — where widely used new technologies and production innovations are often used for piecemeal upgrades of secondary weapons systems.
The Hsiang Chan Project several years ago focused on the threat posed by growing hostilities, searching for commercial sources for replacement parts and strengthening air-to-land strike capabilities, which could be integrated with the domestically produced Wanjian guided missile.
This would not only add 20 years of service life to the IDF fleet, it would also turn the airplane, originally designed purely for defense purposes and air superiority, into a multirole jet fighter.
A new domestically produced training aircraft based on the IDF is to be revealed in September. It is to replace the domestically produced AIDC AT-3 Ziqiang training aircraft and F-5E/F Tiger jet fighter.
This would simplify training for fighter pilots, reduce air and ground personnel training costs, and prevent the aerospace industry’s technical research and development, production, quality control and flight trial capabilities from disappearing.
LEARNING ON THE JOB
The US ignored the Aug. 17, 1982, US-China joint communique and sold technology and equipment vital to the IDF project, but also placed limitations on important functionality so that the most had to be made of the space inside the aircraft, and its weight and center of gravity had to be carefully calculated.
The members of Taiwan’s technical team, who had to learn while doing as they entered the field of supersonic flight for the first time, faced a difficult challenge.
The IDF has been criticized by observers for having little air time, but that is not fair.
The fighter is not perfect, and that is the reason why a program to extend its service life and upgrade its capabilities is needed to gradually improve the aircraft and address its shortcomings by taking advantage of developments in the aerospace industry.
When purchasing jet fighters from another country, it is next to impossible to improve them and upgrade their fighting capabilities without first receiving permission from the manufacturer.
Only the IDF, with its relatively independent technology and integrated system software and hardware, can easily be integrated with a domestically produced arms system, while creating a healthy division of labor at the Corporate Synergy Development Center and kick-starting an industrial upgrade of the private sector.
As the saying goes, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, so it is safer to stick to something the nation has control over.
Shan Yung-li is a freelancer.
Translated by Perry Svensson
For the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), China’s “century of humiliation” is the gift that keeps on giving. Beijing returns again and again to the theme of Western imperialism, oppression and exploitation to keep stoking the embers of grievance and resentment against the West, and especially the US. However, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that in 1949 announced it had “stood up” soon made clear what that would mean for Chinese and the world — and it was not an agenda that would engender pride among ordinary Chinese, or peace of mind in the international community. At home, Mao Zedong (毛澤東) launched
The restructuring of supply chains, particularly in the semiconductor industry, was an essential part of discussions last week between Taiwan and a US delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach. It took precedent over the highly anticipated subject of bilateral trade partnerships, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) founder Morris Chang’s (張忠謀) appearance on Friday at a dinner hosted by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for Krach was a subtle indicator of this. Chang was in photographs posted by Tsai on Facebook after the dinner, but no details about their discussions were disclosed. With
To say that this year has been eventful for China and the rest of the world would be something of an understatement. First, the US-China trade dispute, already simmering for two years, reached a boiling point as Washington tightened the noose around China’s economy. Second, China unleashed the COVID-19 pandemic on the world, wreaking havoc on an unimaginable scale and turning the People’s Republic of China into a common target of international scorn. Faced with a mounting crisis at home, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) rashly decided to ratchet up military tensions with neighboring countries in a misguided attempt to divert the
Astride an ascended economy and military, with global influence nearing biblical proportions, Xi Jinping (習近平) — general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), chairman of the Central Military Commission and president of the People’s Republic of China — is faithfully heralded, in deeds and imagery, as a benevolent lord, determined to “build a community of common destiny for all mankind.” Rather than leading humanity to this Shangri-La through inspirational virtue a la Mahatma Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln, the CCP prefers a micromanagement doctrine of socialism with Chinese characteristics as the guiding light. A doctrine of Marxist orthodoxy transplanted under a canvas