TYPE: Lightweight multirole fighter
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Taiwan
POWERPLANTS: Two 26.8kN (6025lb) dry and 42.1kN (9460lb) afterburning ITEC (Garrett/AIDC) TFE1042-70 (F125) turbofans.
PERFORMANCE: Estimated max speed at 36,000ft approx Mach 1.7 or over 1275km/h (688kt). Max initial rate of climb 50,000ft/min. Service ceiling 55,000ft. Range figures not published.
WEIGHTS: Estimated internal fuel 1950kg (4300lb), max takeoff weight thought to be in the 9000kg (20,000lb) class.
DIMENSIONS: All estimated - Wing span over wingtip missile rails 8.5m (28ft), length overall including nose probe 14.5m (47ft 6in), length overall excluding nose probe 13.3m (43ft 6in).
ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only, or two in tandem in trainers.
ARMAMENT: One 20mm M61A1 Vulcan cannon. Six hardpoints can carry a variety of missiles, bombs, guided bombs and cluster munitions including 500lb/225kg GBU-12, Rockeye, AGM-65B Maverick, Hsiung Feng II anti ship missile, Sky Sword I short range IR guided and Sky Sword II medium range radar homing AAMs.
HISTORY: The Ching-Kuo is by far Taiwan's most ambitious aircraft program thus far, and after more than a decade of development is now providing Taiwan with a capable multirole fighter.
Development of the Ching-Kuo, initially known as the Indigenous Defence Fighter (IDF), began in 1982 after a US arms embargo precluded Taiwan from ordering F-16s or Northrop F-20 Tigersharks to replace ageing F-5s and F-104s fighters for air superiority, anti shipping and ground attack roles. Despite the arms embargo, US companies were still able to provide technical support for the program, with the result that much of the aircraft's systems is based on US equipment. General Dynamics worked closely with AIDC to develop the airframe, and similarities to the F-16 are obvious, particular the blended fuselage/wing design. Other features such as the leading edge root extensions give the aircraft the appearance of a scaled down F/A-18.
The International Turbofan Engine Company (ITEC) TFE1042 afterburning turbofans were developed in partnership by Garrett and AIDC. The Golden Dragon 53 radar (which has a search range of 150km/80nm) is based on the GE AN/APG-67 originally developed for the F-20, with some elements based on the F-16A's APG-66 with air and sea search modes and lookdown, shootdown capability, while the specifically developed Sky Sword I and Sky Sword II AAMs closely resemble the AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-7 Sparrow, respectively. Other features include a side stick controller, two multi function displays, a HUD and fly-by-wire.
The first prototype Ching-Kuo, a single seater, flew for the first time on May 28 1989, while three other prototypes - one single seater and two two seaters - and 10 pre production aircraft followed. The first production Ching-Kuo was delivered to the Republic of China Air Force in January 1994, with production continuing through to 1999.
Taiwan's initial plan to buy 260 Ching-Kuos was halved when the lifting of arms embargoes during the early nineties allowed it to purchase F-16s and Mirage 2000-5s and cancel a developed version.
Photos AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-kuo