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XA-3 "Thunder Project"

The XA-3 Thunder attack aircraft derived from the AT-3 trainer is the only self-made attack aircraft in Taiwan so far. The XA-3 attack aircraft was the Aviation Development Center's research and development plan to develop aviation weapon systems. Following the self-developed AT-3 jet trainer, it is again a plan for overall self-reliance planning. Since its establishment, the Aviation Industry Development Center adhered to the government's self-reliant decision-making and the requirements of military building and preparation, and is engaged in the development and production of various types of aircraft and engines. Moreover, since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Mainland China, Taiwan faced a new situation, and aircraft development was more urgent than before. Due to rising costs, an additional 160 million yuan was added, and the entire Thunder Project was funded as high as 500 million yuan, which was spent by the National Defense Industry Development Foundation.

Air Development Center produced a total of 63 AT-3, along with two A-3 attack aircraft. During the mass production of the AT-3 aircraft, in order to enhance the air force’s demand for ground/sea attack operations and cooperate with the development of the aviation industry to achieve the self-reliance of the aviation weapon system, from July 1979 to July 1983, the AT-3 aircraft was used as a model. The design was changed to the XA-3 Thunder attack aircraft. In addition to adding a 30-mm cannon, it also had a variety of weapons capabilities. The A-3 single-seat attack aircraft design used the AT-3 wing weapon pylons end, amnd was capable of carrying Hsiung Feng II, which can be used for self-defense.

Development of A-3 started from 1979. At that time, Taiwan intended to research and develop a new attacker with the techniques from AT-3; a plan named "Thunder Project" thus began and lasted for four years until the first trial flight of XA-3 (archetype) was accomplished on July 8th, 1982.

The greatest difference between A-3 and AT-3 is that A-3 is single-seated while AT-3 is doubled-seated. The surface of A-3 is colored with dazzle paint. As a single-seated fighter jet, A-3 weighs much lighter than AT-3 and excellently facilitates manipulation since it is also made of aluminum alloy and graphite-fiber composites.

A-3 and AT-3 are very much alike in the aspect of the avionics system, including UHF, IFF, TACAN, VOR, and ILS. As for the weapon system, the five racks under the belly and two wings is capable to carry the rocket pods, machine gun pods and all kinds of bombs. The racks at the wingtips can hold the infrared-guided air-to-air missiles, such as Tien-Chien I. The total capacity load for weapons is 2727kg. HUD, gunsights, bombsights, and a gun camera are standard equipment; a Martin Baker MK. 10L is adopted for the ejection seat.

As for the appearance, XA-3 uses AT-3 same three-color camouflage painting. Because the XA-3 single-seater fighter is much lighter than the AT-3 in weight, and the XA-3 is also manufactured using aluminum alloy and ultra-light graphite fiber composite materials, it is undoubtedly quite excellent in overall control performance.

In terms of avionics systems, it includes UHF communication systems, IFF, tactical navigators, UHF omnidirectional rangefinders, and instrument landing systems. In terms of weapon system, the XA-3 has five pylons under the wings and belly, which can carry rocket pouches, cannon pouches and various types of bombs. The wing-end pylons can be hung with infrared-guided air-to-air pairs such as the Sky Sword 1. Air missile.

On March 25, 1982, the "Taiwan Defense Department" officially approved the XA-3 attack aircraft modified from the AT-3 trainer and named it Thunder. The first prototype (serial number 0901) was accompanied by an XAT-3 on July 8, 1982, and it was successfully first flew by Li Xincheng, the director of the flight test room at the time, with a three-color jungle camouflage. After the test flight was successful, a tea party was held to celebrate. The tea party was in progress. Guo Rulin, commander-in-chief of the “Taiwan Defense Department” and “Air Force” was extremely happy and thought that the tea party was not enough. On October 22 of the same year, the XA-3 successfully tested a 30mm cannon in flight for the first time. The second aircraft (serial number 0902) also flew on February 17, 1983.

The first XA-3 prototype (0901) was equipped with radar warning antennas on both sides above the nose and straight tail fins. The appearance of the nose radome was also different from that of the 0902 aircraft. At the same time, the head-up display in the cockpit seemed to have changed in the later period.

When mass production is about to begin, the Air Force has purchased more than 200 F-5 fighters from the United States , and there is no shortage of aircraft at all bases. It also bought F-104 second-hand fighters in the number of nearly two alliances from Europe under the "Alishan Project", so they lacked the willingness to purchase. Although the Navy has had the idea of ??establishing a naval air force for many years, it has seriously considered it, and it was finally put on hold due to factors such as the organizational adjustment of the "Taiwan Defense Department." In July 1983, the "Taiwan Defense Department" announced the termination of the XA-3 development plan.

Different reasons have been discussed since A-3 still cannot step into mass production. It is generally believed that A-3, though similar to AT-3 in function, structure, and production cost, was less valuable since AT-3 is able to serve as a trainer and fighter. Because the early-type AT-3 performance was too low, coupled with the continuous improvement and other factors, led to part of each airframe being not the same, causing logistical maintenance difficulties. A-3 attack aircraft did not get the military procurement contract. The completion of this case was another milestone in the overall planning of my country's aviation industry. A-3 has set a milestone for the research and development in advanced fighter jets, which is even more significant than its value in warfare.

The two XA-3s became a vehicle for testing a variety of missiles and avionics systems at the Zhongshan Research Institute of Arms of the "Taiwan Defense Department" and successfully tested the Xiongfeng II anti - ship missile. The XA-3 No. 2 prototype continues to be upgraded to the AT-3B specification. When the AT-3 trainer is mass-produced, the military requires the Aeronautical Development Center to add some of the X-A3 features to the trainer model. The first prototype of Hyundai X-A3 is kept in the hangar of the Air Force Academy, and the second prototype is displayed in the open air of Chenggongling.

In August 1987, one of the prototypes was equipped with a set of AN/APG-66 fire control radar, two multi-function displays, MIL-STD-1553B military-standard digital data bus, and an air-launched Hsiungfeng IIr. The launch capability of ship-to-ship missiles makes it an anti-ship attack aircraft. He also intended to promote the "Taiwan Air Force" as a conversion training pilot trainer and the "Taiwan Navy" aviation group to establish a fixed-wing anti-ship attack aircraft energy, although during the Han Kuang exercises , the Xiongji anti-ship missile was launched and hit a target ship 60 kilometers away. However, the "Taiwan Defense Department" was still uninterested and failed. It is known that two AT-3s of the army, such as 0825 and 0902, have undergone this type of modification.

High-altitude level flight speed 0.85Mach-->0.76Mach
Sea level climb rate 3078m/min-->2438m/min
Practical ceiling 14625m-->14021m
Hanging time 3.2hr-->less than 3hr
Maximum range 3189 km-->3037 km
weapon payload capacity of the A-3 attack aircraft has been increased to 6,614 pounds or more (3,000 kg or more); there are 4 pylons under the wings and 1 under the belly, plus the wingtip pylons, for a total of 7 mounting points.
  • Front right of the nose: 1 30 cannon (A-3 attack aircraft)
  • Belly pylon: 1 location, can mount 910 kg heavy weapons, can carry 1 Mk84 2,000-pound low-resistance general-purpose bomb or 1 AN-M3 12.7mm twin-mounted machine gun pod.
  • Inside pylons: 2 locations that can mount 636 kg of heavy weapons, including Mk83 1,000-pound low-resistance general-purpose bombs, Mk 20 cluster bombs or 150 gallons (568 liters) auxiliary fuel tanks.
  • Outer pylons: 2 locations, which can mount 272 kg of heavy weapons, including 5-inch or 2.75-inch rocket pods or other weapons. Air-launched Xiongfeng II anti-ship missile (A-3 attack aircraft)
  • Wing end pylons: 2 locations, which can mount 2 AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles or Tianjian I missiles.
  • XA-3 Thunder Project XA-3 Thunder Project XA-3 Thunder Project XA-3 Thunder Project

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    Page last modified: 06-10-2021 12:15:07 ZULU