Paul Lewis/TAIWAN

TAIWAN'S Aero Industry Development Centre (AIDC) is pressing the air force to support the development of an advanced trainer variant of the Ching-Kuo Indigenous Defence Fighter (IDF).

AIDC is proposing a "downgraded" tandem-seat version of the IDF to meet the Taiwanese air force's requirement for a modern fighter lead-in trainer, says IDF programme director General Peng Yuan-shi.

The advanced trainer is based on the two-seat IDF operation-conversion aircraft, already in service with the air force. The trainer will not be fitted with the fighter's internal gun, multi-mode radar or electronic-warfare system.

According to Peng, AIDC is also examining modifying the aircraft's flight-control software to simulate the handling characteristics of other frontline air force aircraft, such as the Lockheed Martin F-16A/B, which is due to enter service in 1996.

The air force operates a large fleet of two-seat Northrop F-5F and has leased an interim number of Northrop T-38 trainers from the US Air Force. Peng argues that neither type offers modern digital avionics or high performance handling to properly prepare new air force pilots moving to F-16, IDF or Dassault Mirage 2000-5.

AIDC hopes that air force support for the fighter lead-in trainer will extend production of the IDF beyond the 130 ordered. The state-run manufacturer has already delivered around 50 aircraft and faces a severe shortfall in work after completion of the last IDF in 1998.

AIDC is planning a series of incremental enhancements to the IDF, says Peng. The improvements are designed to address earlier criticism of the aircraft's weight and performance.

The use of composite materials in the airframe will be extended from the existing rudder and horizontal stabiliser to include the IDF's entire vertical stabiliser. The IDF will also be fitted with ejectable weapon and fuel pylons in future.

International Turbine Engine (ITEC) is continuing to promote an upgrade programme for the IDF's twin 41kN (9,250lb)-thrust F125-100 turbofan engines. Earlier plans for an improved engine were scrapped after the air force ordered the F-16 and cut its IDF order by 120 fighters.

The AIDC-AlliedSignal joint-venture engine company has nonetheless completed preliminary design work to boost the F125's thrust by up to 20%. Modifications include fitting new single-crystal high-pressure turbine blades and an enlarged fan, says ITEC.

Source: Flight International