Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) is nearing completion of the first phase of Taiwan Air Force’s CK-1 Ching-Kuo indigenous defence fighter (IDF) aircraft’s mid-life upgrade programme.
AIDC military business development vice-president CH Lee was quoted by FlightGlobal as saying that the company has so far upgraded approximately 66 or 67 aircraft out of a total of 71 fighters, and will complete phase one by the end of 2013.
"The upgrades will reduce pilot workload while improving situational awareness," Lee said.
The completion of phase one will allow the company to move to phase two, which includes modification of the air force’s remaining 56 F-CK-1 fighters.
Launched in 2009 with funding of NT$17.06bn ($586m), the programme includes installation of enhanced radar, avionics and electronic warfare capabilities, and a domestically manufactured Wan Chien cluster bomb onto the aircraft.
Primarily aimed at extending the Republic of China Air Force’s 127 IDF fleet’s service life by an additional 20 years, the upgrade is also expected to enable the aircraft to carry more advanced weapons.
Powered by two TFE1042 engines, CK-1 Ching-Kuo IDF is an air superiority jet fighter designed to conduct a broad spectrum of air defence and ground attack missions under all weather conditions.
The aircraft was designed and manufactured by AIDC after the sale of theF-20 Tigershark and F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft was refused by the US due to mounting pressure from China in the 1980s.
Equipped with enhanced avionics, a weapons control system and the Golden Dragon CD-53 multi-mode pulse Doppler radar, the aircraft entered service in 1992 and serves as Taiwan’s primary combat aircraft, alongside the ageing Lockheed Martin-built F-16A/B fighters and Mirage 2000-5 aircraft.
Image: A Taiwan Air Force’s F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo aircraft during its flight. Photo: courtesy of J. Patrick Fischer.