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TRAINING: Taiwan advanced trainer comes a step closer to market

Posted 25 March 2021 · Add Comment

Fast jet trainers – especially those that have the potential to carry out the hybrid role as a light attack aircraft – are drawing the attention of the defence OEMs and the air forces in the emerging markets.

IMAGE: The Brave Eagle now is test phase (IMAGE AIDC)

A new contender is on its way and reported this month that it has entered operational test phase.

Taiwan’s new indigenous advanced jet trainer (AJT) the AIDC T-5 Yung Yin (Brave Eagle) has completed factory testing, and will soon begin operational testing with the Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF). The completion of company testing was marked by a special flight on 2 March, with the Chairman of the Taichung-based Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC), Hu Kai-hung, a former fighter jet pilot and deputy chief of the general staff of Taiwan's military in the back seat.

The AJT project was initiated in 2017 and development and production was undertaken by a partnership of AIDC and the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology. The new aircraft is intended to replace the AIDC AT-3 advanced trainer and then to supplant the Northrop F-5E/F Tigers that are now used as lead-in fighter trainers.

The XAT-5 (T-5 in production form) is a supersonic advanced jet trainer derived from the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo fighter. It was selected after evaluation of a modernized AT-3 variant (the AT-3 MAX), the Alenia Aermacchi (Leonardo) M-346 Master and the KAI T-50 Golden Eagle.

The XAT-5 prototype was publicly unveiled in September 2019 and made its maiden flight on 10 June 2020. A second prototype followed in December 2020. Originally developed under the project name Blue Magpie, the aircraft was renamed at the rollout ceremony, after a public competition to find a name for the aircraft.

AIDC will build two more AJTs by the end of this year and these will join the Air Force test programme. Hanxiang Aviation Industry will begin initial, low rate production in November 2021 and full rate production will begin in March 2023. The eventual RoCAF requirement is for a total of 66 production T-5 AJTs with deliveries expected to be completed by June 2026.

Though the T-5 looks the same as the F-CK-1 fighter, and uses the same engines, 80% of the components are new including a composite fuselage, advanced avionics (including AESA radar), increased fuel capacity, and a new, thicker wing aerofoil intended to increase stability at low speeds.


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