《TAIPEI TIMES》Air force touts new advanced training aircraft’s abilities
AT-5 Brave Eagle jets take off from the Chihhang Air Base in Taitung County yesterday. Photo: Ritchie B. Tongo, Epa-efe
By Fabian Hamacher / Reuters, Taitung
The air force yesterday showed off its new locally designed and made jet trainer, touting the more advanced, combat-capable abilities of the aircraft that is to replace aging and accident-prone existing equipment.
The armed forces are mostly equipped by the US, but President Tsai Ing-wen （蔡英文） has made development of an advanced home-grown defense industry a priority, especially as China steps up military modernization efforts and drills near the nation.
The new AT-5 Yung Ying （勇鷹, “Brave Eagle”）, made by state-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corp （ADIC） with a budget of NT$68.6 billion （US$2.3 billion）, had its first test flight in 2020.
It is Taiwan’s first jet made domestically since the F-CK-1 Ching-kuo Indigenous Defense Fighter, rolled out more than three decades ago, and the two jets look similar and have similar capabilities.
Three Brave Eagles roared into the air at the Chihhang Air Base in Taitung County, in a show of its prowess in front of reporters.
Flight training officer Chang Chong-hao （張崇豪） said the Brave Eagle was suitable for air-to-air and air-to-ground combat training purposes, and can land and take off on a shorter runway.
“So it helps give the students more space to deal with some unforeseen situations,” he said.
The Brave Eagle trainer can be equipped with weapons, although that remains in the testing phase, and the plane is designed to have a support function in time of war.
“We’re not involved in the armaments part, those tests are up to the manufacturer ADIC,” air force officer Huang Chun-yuan （黃俊源） said. “Our main mission at the moment is general conversion training and tandem flying.”
The air force plans on taking 66 units by 2026 to replace aging AT-3 and F-5 training aircraft, which have suffered a series of crashes in recent years. An AT-3, a model that first flew in 1980, crashed in May, while three F-5s have crashed in the past year or so.
The F-5s first entered service in Taiwan in the 1970s, although are no longer frontline combat aircraft.
The air force’s new AT-5 Brave Eagle aircraft is pictured at the Chihhang Air Base in Taitung County yesterday. Photo: Ann Wang, Reuters