AIDC and NCSIST Celebrate the IDF's First Flight's 30th Anniversary
The Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) and the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) jointly celebrated the 30th anniversary of the first flight of F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo (commonly known as the Indigenous Defensive Fighter (IDF). The celebration event was chaired by AIDC's Chairman Hu Kai-hung and the President of NCSIST Dr. Gao Chung-Hsing and was attended by the original IDF test pilots and persons having contributed to the success of the great cause. The ceremony started with a showing of a film produced by Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) General Hua Hsi-Chun, a key player in the development of the IDF, with which to commemorate his contributions with a glimpse back in time on the memorable period of history when taking on the grand mission.
Due to the severance of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and the U.S. in 1979 and the fact the R.O.C. government had no means to purchase jet fighters at the time, the late President Chiang Ching-kuo was determined to develop and manufacture Taiwan's own indigenous air defense system. As result, the An-Hsiang Program was thus initiated in 1983 which was composed of four sections, i.e. Airframe Development, Turbine Engine, Avionics Integration and Missiles; respectively named Yin-Yang, Yun-Han, Tien-Lei and Tien-Chien programs. The programs began with the conceptual design, preliminary design, detail design and moved into actual development, in a systematic manner.
The first IDF prototype, A1 (No. 10001), rolled out on December 10, 1988 and was named Ching-Kuo by former President Lee Teng-Hui. The successful first flight of the A1 prototype was achieved by ROCAF Colonel Wu Kang-Ming on May 28, 1989, which not only boosted the confidence of the nation but also unveiled a new era in Taiwan's air defense.
After several years in service, Taiwan upgraded the IDF as any other developed country would do. The two-stage Hsiang-Chan program was undertaken to upgrade the IDF fleets located in the southern and central cities of Tainan and Taichung. The upgrade program was tested and proved to be successful in satisfying the air defense needs of the ROCAF.
AIDC's Chairman Hu Kai-Hung in his speech recalled the hardship and difficulties that his predecessors at AIDC faced and the breakthroughs they made. Giving thanks to their endeavors, Taiwan's aerospace industry has continued reached new and higher milestones and has partnered with major international aerospace companies. Among the previous successes, the indigenous development and manufacture of the IDF was among the most outstanding accomplishments. Even though being developed domestically, the capacity for weapons of the IDF has measured up to the same level of European and American jet fighters and has been regarded as the best among the three types of second-generation jet fighters operated by the ROCAF. Chairman Hu stressed that he took pride in both being a pilot who previously flew the IDF and now leading AIDC, the company that manufactured the “signature” aircraft.
Chairman Hu also suggested that AIDC's integration ability has been improved significantly while conducting the development of the Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) and the upgrade of the F-16. Moreover, AIDC has been preparing for development of primary jet trainers, upgrade of AJT and R&D of future jet fighters to ensure the growth of Taiwan's aerospace and national defense capabilities and to support and contribute to the Government's call for development of domestically manufactured military aircraft.
NCSIST President Gao pointed out that the development of the IDF marked a glorious time in history and it was a shame that valuable experience was not fully passed down. He also described how the program went from zero to a success story. Thirty years have passed, he aspires to lead the NCSIST onto a different path that starts with looking into the weak link of the program and working to possess know-why of the technique that was applied in the program but previously restricted by foreign countries. In doing so, a sound R&D basis will be formed which will lead us to a greater achievement than just being an original equipment manufacturer. President Gao lastly expressed his wish that NCSIST will cooperate with AIDC in the future development of indigenous defense systems and in building new core industries for Taiwan.
Dr. Peng Yuan-Shi, Program Director of the Yin-Yang Program said that the scenes and General Hua's voice-over in the film brought him back to 30 years ago. For several days ahead of the test flight, every member of the program burnt the midnight oil to work on related tests to ensure a successful outcome. He also hailed General Hua as the key person in the program and further described his accomplishments. At the time when Taiwan encountered grave diplomatic challenges, it was General Hua who overcame political and budget difficulties and paved the way for the fruitful result we celebrate today. Dr. Peng emphasized that the successful flight test was attributable to every person working to this end.
He went on to encourage successors in the aerospace industry that only when we manufacture our own aircraft can the goal of sustainability be achieved. When we have the technology and skills at our fingertips, we will be able to carry out jet fighter upgrade programs tailored to the circumstances we face without being restrained by the political and economic influence of other countries. In addition to R&D, Dr. Peng highlighted the importance of comprehensive logistics management, procurement management, program management and concluded that a successful program relies on close ties between R&D and overall program management.
The Chairman of Hua's Aero Industry Development Foundation, Dr. Shung Yeou-Kuang shared with the audience a story between him and General Hua when he was asked to take the position of Chief Engineer of the Yin-Yang Program by General Hua. Dr. Shung explained to General Hua that he did not have the expertise in each system of the program and declined the offer. General Hua responded to the rejection by saying “Don't you know how to learn?” And, that was why Dr. Shung garnered the courage to accept the job from which he had learned tremendously. He continued by saying that a group of people worked hard to develop the IDF 30 years ago, and three decades have gone by another group of people is developing the AJT, which marks a crucial moment in Taiwan's aerospace history. Dr. Shung finally added that they have done their share in writing history, and now it is up to the next generation working on the AJT program to make history.
On the 30th anniversary of the IDF's first flight, Mr. Wu Kang-Ming extended gratitude to the ROCAF for providing him with the education and training that enabled him to be selected as the test pilot for the IDF which brought him to a test pilot school in the U.S. to master flight skills for high angle of attack. As the date of the first flight approached, the assembly plant was operating around the clock. Even though the then-Director General of AIDC, General Hua, had stringent request for R&D and program management, he had never put Mr. Wu under pressure. Instead, he allowed Mr. Wu to concentrate on keeping his body and mind in the best condition to safely take IDF to the sky for the first time.
Mr. Wu Kang-Ming pointed out that we do not have another 30 years to start from zero. He said it was General Hua's wish to pass down the R&D and manufacturing capabilities to the successors in Taiwan's aerospace industry and he wished to share his experience and knowledge with future generations. Thanks to the efforts of Hua's Aero Industry Development Foundation, colleges and universities, including the National Cheng Kung University, have planned comprehensive curriculums to teach aerospace professionals the knowledge that cannot be found in regular textbooks. With the combination of NCSIST's funding and AIDC's expertise, the AJT is currently being assembled and will soon be rolled out and will have its first flight in no time. At this moment, as IDF engineers hand over the responsibility to the next generation of AJT engineers, aircraft manufacturing experience along with the pioneering spirit are also being passed down.