Authorities yesterday confirmed a project to build next-generation fighter jets, with budget proposals to be put forward by the end of this year and the prototype of the new fighter jets expected in 10 years.
National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, the nation’s main weapons research and development unit, has been working on the “Vega project” to develop next-generation fighter jets, institute president Chang Guan-chung (張冠群) said during a question-and-answer session at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.
The Vega project is reportedly to develop an advanced engine system based on the Indigenous Defense Fighter jet’s TFE-1042-70 engine.
“It would take six to eight years to complete the first stage of the project, and it would take more than 10 years to complete [the first and] the second stage,” Chang said.
“The next-generation fighter jets will be developed after the completion of the Vega project,” Chang said, suggesting that the prototype of the new fighter jets might be developed 10 years after the launch of the project.
The Vega project, a key component of the government’s plan to replace its aging fleet, would be submitted to the legislature later this year for approval, Chang said.
It is the first formal confirmation of the Vega project following weeks of speculations following Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan’s (馮世寬) announcement of a plan to develop new fighters in January.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Defense’s announcement yesterday that it had changed its defense guideline from “solid defense and effective deterrence” to “solid defense and multi-layered deterrence” was criticized by lawmakers.
The subtle word change, combined with a lack of a detailed defense blueprint, were targets of the criticism.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) asked how the ministry defined “multi-layered deterrence” and what changes the shift would initiate, but was only given vague answers.
“A ‘multi-layered deterrence’ would be a more practical strategy,” Office for Operations and Planning Director Lieutenant General Chiang Chen-chung (姜振中) said.
“In addition to maintaining a balance between three branches of the armed forces and preserving combat power, [the new guideline] focuses on an efficient use of power” in tactical engagement, Chiang said.
Criticizing the ministry for failing to clearly explain what would be the founding principle of a future military buildup, Tsai and other lawmakers asked ministry officials to present a detailed defense plan associated with the shift before March 19, which is when the ministry’s quadrennial military review is due to be released.
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