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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

New trainer jets to enter operational test phase

ROC Central News Agency

03/02/2021 04:14 PM

Taichung, March 2 (CNA) Taiwan's new indigenous advanced jet trainer (AJT) has recently completed internal flight tests and will soon enter the operational test phase with the help of Taiwan's Air Force to make sure the trainer meets its needs, its manufacturer said Tuesday.

Taichung-based aerospace company Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) said the AJT was ready for the next step after holding another round of flight tests of its two AJT prototypes at Ching Chuan Kang Air Base in Taichung earlier in the day.

One of the two AJTs was co-piloted by AIDC Chairman Hu Kai-hung (胡開宏), a retired fighter jet pilot who previously served as deputy chief of the general staff of Taiwan's military before his retirement.

After completing the 40-minute test flight, Hu told reporters that the capabilities of the AJT, codenamed Yung Yin or "Brave Eagle," had exceeded public expectations.

The jet is equipped, for example, with an aft-seat 4K ultra HD HUD monitor, providing the back-seat co-pilot with a clear view of the front, according to Hu.

A number of local defense experts previously said the AJT could be loaded with missiles and used during wartime, but AIDC Vice President Bird Du (杜旭純) refused to comment if the trainer had a missile capability.

According to the government-funded AIDC, Tuesday's public flight test was conducted to mark the completion of AIDC's internal tests of the two AJT prototypes it built.

An Air Force team will soon join the AIDC in Taichung to help launch a series of operational tests and evaluations before entering mass production, the AIDC said.

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 trainers, and a prototype of the jet was first unveiled publicly in September 2019.

Public test flights of the two prototypes were conducted in June 2020 and December 2020, respectively.

Meanwhile, the AIDC said that aside from the two prototypes, it will build two more AJTs by the end of this year and hand them to the Air Force.

According to the military, it will take delivery of a total of 66 AJTs by 2026 as part of the country's efforts to become more self-reliant militarily.

(By Matt Yu and Joseph Yeh)


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