The Obama administration decided against selling 66 new F-16s to Taiwan, notifying the U.S. Congress instead of a planned $5.3 billion upgrade of the island nation’s existing F-16 fleet to include active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and other new systems.
AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-kuo
Taiwan’s Aero Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC) is bidding to achieve Tier 1 supplier status with the major aerospace OEMs. It is building the Taiwan Advanced Composites Center (TACC), a 538,000-sq-ft facility that will contain large new autoclaves, ply cutters and computer-controlled milling machines. AIDC already produces smaller composite parts, such as the co-cured frames for the cockpit of Sikorsky’s S-92 helicopter.
AIDC’s modernization program for the F-CK-1 Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF)–also known as the Ching-kuo–is nearing the end of its latest development period. Phase I of the development test and evaluation campaign came to an end in 2007, and Phase II should draw to a close by the end of this year.
After a visit to China last month, the commander of U.S. military forces in the Pacific, Admiral Timothy Keating, suggested that Beijing’s growing military might was aimed specifically at Taiwan. China has threatened to invade Taiwan if it should declare independence. Ahead of Taiwanese presidential elections and a controversial referendum, political tension across the 90-mile Taiwan Straits that divide the two territories remains high.
The Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) of Taiwan recently displayed during public days at several ROCAF bases a new configuration of its Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF), with three 250-pound bombs on the centreline. Taiwan wants to upgrade the ROCAF to meet a growing military threat from mainland China, but progress has been slow.