Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) believes its work to upgrade the country’s fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16s positions it well for a possible Dassault Mirage 2000-5 upgrade programme.

AIDC chairman Moudy Hu expresses gratitude to Lockheed for its support in upgrading 139 Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) F-16s to the advanced F-16V configuration, a project completed in late 2023. 

Taiwan Lockheed Martin F-16V

Source: Republic of China Air Force

A Republic of China Air Force F-16V.  AIDC worked with Lockheed Martin to upgrade 139 examples in Taiwanese service

“I very much appreciate Lockheed Martin, because they helped AIDC train a number of our employees, giving them discipline, a global view, good communications skills, and technical skills,” says Hu.

“They will sustain our operation over the next 20 years.”

Hu, speaking with FlightGlobal at the recent Singapore air show, says that the company is not yet in discussions with Dassault about any potential Mirage upgrade. He also declines to comment on reports in 2023 that a French team was in Taiwan to assess the upgrade of nine aircraft.

Cirium fleets data shows that Taiwan operates a total of 54 Mirage 2000-5s with an average age of 26.1 years.

Should an upgrade eventually take place – and this decision rests with Taipei – Hu feels that his company has the technical skills and integration experience to handle it.

The Singapore show also saw the company sign a memorandum of understanding with Northrop Grumman to collaborate on a possible upgrade programme for the ROCAF’s five E-2K-2000 airborne early warning and control aircraft. The average age of the E-2s is 40 years.

Taiwan Mirage 2000-5 2

Source: Taiwan Ministry of National Defense

Taiwanese Mirage-2000-5s. AIDC’s chairman Moudy Hu feels that the company’s work on the F-16 gives it a strong foundation for possible Mirage upgrade work

For the time being the company is producing 66 T-5 Brave Eagle advanced jet trainers. As of the end of 2023, AIDC had delivered 27 examples to the ROCAF and aims to deliver 18 in 2024.

The company also plans to self-fund the development of an armed version of the T-5. One reason for Hu’s visit to the Singapore air show was to speak with suppliers about this project. The company plans to develop a demonstration aircraft, but Hu does not provide a timeline for this.

Following the completion of T-5 deliveries, Hu says the company hopes to produce a locally designed basic trainer to replace the ROCAF’s ageing fleet of Beechcraft T-34Cs. Such a programme would provide essential support for Taiwan’s aerospace sector, which sees 250 local suppliers participating in the T-5 effort.

Apart from AIDC’s defence business, it hopes to increase its commercial aerostructures work. To do so, Hu feels that it is essential to invest in composite thermoplastic structures: “We have a team dedicated to seeing how we can work on that technology.”