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AJT trainer jet is new design not upgraded IDF: test pilots

ROC Central News Agency

06/22/2020 06:23 PM

Taichung, June 22 (CNA) Taiwan's first indigenous advanced jet trainer (AJT), codenamed Brave Eagle, is a brand-new design not an upgraded version of the decades-old Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF), two test flight pilots told media Monday after completing the trainer's inaugural public flight in Taichung earlier in the day.

Although the jet looks similar to the IDF, which has been used by Taiwan's Air Force since 1992, 80 percent of the AJT's components are newly designed, including its exterior and pneumatics, said pilot Lu Chih-yuan (路志元).

Echoing Lu's view, co-pilot Kuan Yen-nien (管延年) said the cockpit design of the AJT is also different from that of the IDF.

The cockpit of the two-seat AJT is similar to that of the F-16 fighter, which has an aft-seat 4K ultra HD HUD monitor, providing the back-seat co-pilot with a clear view of the front, according to Kuan.

The monitor can also display all the information a back seat pilot needs to know in order to fly the jet, even landing it if necessary, Kuan said.

Lu and Kuan made the remarks when asked to comment on the differences between the two aircraft, both designed and built by the government-funded Aerospace Industrial Development Corp (AIDC).

Earlier Monday, the two civilian pilots, both retired Air Force pilots, conducted the first public flight of the Brave Eagle, or "Yung Yin (勇鷹)" with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) attending a ceremony held at Taichung's Ching Chuan Kang air base.

The Brave Eagle, serial number 11001, took off from the air base at 9:20 a.m. Monday, carried out a series of tests that included its ground run, high speed rolling take-off, airborne performance and final approach, before landing on 9:32 a.m.

AIDC President Ma Wan-june (馬萬鈞) told reporters that, including Monday's event, the company has conducted four rounds of test flights for the new AJT since June 10 when the aircraft conducted its first test flight.

Civilian pilots will continue to conduct test flights over the next few months to collect data needed to calibrate the system and make improvements before the AIDC invites Air Force pilots to conduct test flights.

The company will only begin mass production of the AJT after the Air Force is satisfied with the test flight results and clears the AIDC to do so, Ma added.

The AJT project was initiated in 2017 to replace the military's decades-old AT-3 trainer aircraft and F-5E/F lead-in fighter trainer, with a prototype of the jet was first unveiled in September 2019.

According to the military, it will take delivery of a total of 66 AJTs by 2026 at a cost of NT$66.8 billion (US$2.23 billion) as part of the country's efforts to become more militarily self-reliant.

(By Matt Yu and Joseph Yeh)


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