The National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology signed a contract with the Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. April 25 in northern Taiwan's Taoyuan City to develop next-generation supersonic jet trainers, marking a step forward in the government's efforts to achieve self-sufficiency in national defense.
Under the agreement, Taoyuan-headquartered NCSIST, the primary research and development organization of the Ministry of National Defense, will team up with AIDC, a state-owned firm overseen by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and based in central Taiwan's Taichung City, to develop a total of 66 high-performance trainer aircraft.
According to NCSIST, the prototype of the jet trainer is expected to be completed in 2019 and launch its maiden flight in 2020. The entire fleet of aircraft is scheduled to be delivered by 2026 and will replace the Republic of China (Taiwan) air force's aging fleet of AT-3 trainers and F-5 fighters.
Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan said at the signing ceremony that under the policy of self-reliance in national defense, the development of homegrown aircraft through collaboration between NCSIST and AIDC will bring an enormous opportunity for the domestic aviation industry as well as promote economic growth.
Taoyuan City Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan, who also attended the signing ceremony, said the NCSIST and AIDC's joint project will lay the foundation for indigenous defense systems development while minimizing the impact of military budget shortfalls.
The mayor also pointed out that Taoyuan and Taichung both have well-developed aerospace industry clusters capable of producing high-quality components and parts. With a planned investment of NT$68.6 billion (US$2.3 billion) and utilizing 55 percent locally sourced parts, The jet trainer project will likely create more than 2,000 jobs and NT$200 billion in business opportunities, he added.
Promoting Taiwan's defense industry, of which the aerospace and manufacturing sectors are an integral part, is a core component of the government's New Model for Economic Development. The nation's move toward self-sufficiency in defense is expected to drive broader industrial restructuring and upgrading and play a key role in stimulating economic activity nationwide.
Source: Taiwan Today