The rollout ceremony of the new Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) for the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) took place at the Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation’s (AIDC’s) Sha-lu complex on September 24, 2019. The ceremony was officiated by Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and was attended by officials from the R.O.C.’s National Security Council, the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Economic Affairs as well as R.O.C. legislators and distinguished representatives from the international and domestic aerospace industry as well as AIDC itself.
The impressive exterior painting of the AJT incorporated the red, white and blue colors of Taiwan’s national flag. At the ceremony, the aircraft was officially named by the President Tsai as the Yung-ying (Brave Eagle) which won the online voting contest participated by the public. Sitting in the cockpit, President Tsai recognized the outstanding performance of the aircraft upon being briefed by an AIDC flight instructor.
President Tsai later inspected aircraft components manufactured in Taiwan and the Ground-Based Training System (GBTS) developed by the National Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) which was showcased for the first time at the event. The GBTS enhances the overall training results and efficiently saves operational and maintenance costs of the aircraft through customized flight simulation and computer-aided training system for logistics and maintenance. With readily available and comprehensive ground testing and flight test data, the fleet management, maintenance throughout 30-year lifespan and performance upgrade of the aircraft can be performed domestically in Taiwan.
By incorporating 80 percent improvement into the design of the F-CK-1 Ching-kuo, the indigenous defensive fighter (IDF), the AJT has the aerodynamic characteristics such as low air resistance and high angle of attack and uses F124-200TW, an engine jointly produced by AIDC and ITEC. Moreover, the flight characteristics were enhanced since the weight was greatly reduced because of significant changes in the air structure and increased utilization of composite materials.
To meet ROCAF’s requirement of the AJT, the cross-section of the wing was modified to lower the velocity of approach and increase the stability during low-speed flight, which allows the pilots-in-training to acquire the basic flight skills and develop basic combat skills in a short time.
The parting line of the aircraft was raised to increase the fuel carriage capacity in order to extend flight duration and range. Main landing gears were re-positioned to strengthen taxiing stability. The digital flight control system and multiple avionics were manufactured either by Taiwanese companies or under co-production with foreign partners, which ensure that Taiwan has the ability to upgrade and modify the software and hardware of the aircraft. Furthermore, the AJT and the IDF share many of the system components, allowing the ROCAF to shorten pilot training and reduce logistics and maintenance costs.
Taking into consideration the streamlining of ROCAF’s pilot training program, several aircraft configurations were planned in the design phase. It was finally determined that the AJT would use the IDF as its reference aircraft which would allow the AJT to perform a key role in both advanced flight training and lead-in fighter training. As there are certain systems, subsystems and components common to both the AJT and the IDF, problems of diminishing manufacturing sources, logistics and maintenance are minimized.
The agreement of the AJT project was signed between the ROCAF and the NCSIST on February 7, 2017. AIDC was commissioned by the NCSIST on April 25, 2017 and the aircraft assembly process began on June 1, 2018. The AJT is on schedule to make its first flight in June 2020. The ceremony also featured a 5-minute video highlighting major activities in the 480 days from assembly to the rollout ceremony.
In addition to adopting the colors in the national flag, the geometric shapes at the aircraft’s after section and on its underside demonstrate the spirit of rocketing up and marching forward. The aircraft is to replace the AT-3 and the F-5E/F and will reduce pilot training process from three stages, three types to three stages, two types In addition to satisfying a vital requirement of the ROCAF, the AJT also serves as the cornerstone and manifestation of the Taiwan government’s policy of developing indigenous defensive systems.