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.
Photo: J. Michael Cole, Taipei Times
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.
The configurations involved in the second-phase upgrades are still under discussion between AIDC and the air force, Lee said.
AIDC is also likely to play a role on the Lockheed Martin F-16s.
Not only could the firm be assigned some subcontracting work on the 66 new F-16C/Ds Taiwan has been requesting from the US since 2007, but the previous day a senior official at Lockheed told the Taipei Times that most of the work on the US$4.5 billion program to upgrade Taiwan’s 144 F-16A/Bs would be carried out in Taiwan.
Given the great similarities between the IDF and the F-16, and AIDC’s experience handling both, it is very likely that AIDC would get the contract for the F-16A/B upgrade, though ultimately the decision lies with the air force, Lee said.
The US is expected to announce its final decision on the F-16C/D sale and the F-16A/B upgrade package on Oct. 1.
It has been speculated that if Taiwan fails to obtain the F-16C/Ds, AIDC could proceed with the manufacture of the IDF-II “Goshawk” joint strike fighter, which comes with a larger payload and what is known as a conformal fuel tank that provides greater range.
A model Goshawk was displayed at the launch ceremony for the refurbished IDFs in Greater Taichung on June 30.
Depending on budgets and requirements set by the air force, Lee said AIDC could also embark on a fifth-generation fighter aircraft development program, but he did not elaborate nor did he tie a decision to any outcome on the F-16C/Ds.
Although it could have its hands full if all the programs were to occur simultaneously, Lee said AIDC currently had the manpower and technical base to accomplish all of the tasks.
Passengers on domestic flights would not be allowed to board if their temperature is more than 37.5°C or if they refuse to have their temperatures taken, Uni Air (立榮航空) and Mandarin Airlines (華信航空) said yesterday. The two airlines made the announcement after their parent companies — EVA Airways (長榮航空) and China Airlines (CAL, 中華航空) respectively — announced similar pre-boarding requirements on Saturday, along with a requirement that passengers wear masks during their flights, except when they have meals or drinks. Uni Air and Mandarin Airlines said domestic passengers would be required to wear masks from the time they start using self-help
CASE COUNT RISES: One of the new domestic cases is a nurse at a long-term care center, but so far tests on all the residents and other staff have been negative Flight transits through all Taiwanese airports would be banned for two weeks, starting tomorrow, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday as it announced 16 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the nation’s total to 169. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), head of the center, said all flight transits would be banned through April 7. In light of the rapidly increasing number of imported COVID-19 cases, there was a need to further reduce cross-border travel and the risk of disease transmission, the center said. The Civil Aeronautics Administration has informed airlines about the new measures, and anyone who has
A public health expert yesterday warned that too many people are meeting in small groups in coffee shops and restaurants without keeping a proper distance from one another, as he urged the government to loosen the criteria for testing young Taiwanese returning from abroad for COVID-19. People need to keep a social distance of at least 2m, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Public Health dean Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) said as the college presented its seventh weekly report on COVID-19 at a morning news conference. More than 300,000 confirmed cases of the virus have been reported in more than three-quarters of all
TWEET CONFIRMED: The US’ Morgan Ortagus backed up Taiwan, saying China only admitted that human-to-human transmission was possible as late as Jan. 20 Taiwan warned the WHO and China about possible human-to-human transmission of the new coronavirus at the end of last year, but the global health body did not make it public, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. Department of International Organizations Director-General Bob Chen (陳龍錦) made the remark at a news briefing in Taipei, when asked about statements made by US Department of State spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus. “Dec. 31— that’s the same day Taiwan first tried to warn WHO of human-human transmission. Chinese authorities meanwhile silenced doctors and refused to admit human-human transmission until Jan. 20, with catastrophic consequences,” Ortagus wrote on