The AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo is the IDF (Indigenous Defense Fighter) multirole combat aircraft for the Republic OF China Air Force that was named after the late president of Taiwan named Chiang Ching-Kuo. The aircraft had its first flight back in 1989 and was delivered to the ROCAF back in January of 1994 and entered officially for service of RCAF in 1997. There are currently 130 of the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo aircraft serving in the ROCAF and all of them were manufactured by the end of 1999 and this makes Taiwan their only operator.
The project for making this IDF fighter was initiated after the US refused Taiwan the sale of the jet fighters like the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the F-20 Tigershark following a diplomatic pressure caused by China. The company behind the creation of AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo is called AIDC (Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation) which is based in the Taichung region of Taiwan.
For our readers, we bring to you today some amazing facts about the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo; The Taiwanese IDF Fighter.
The AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo holds the title for being the best of their lightweight modern fighter jets that have been ever developed by the Island nation of Taiwan even to this day. This AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo aircraft was but as a defense aircraft for the purpose of countering any kind of aerial aggression from its neighboring country China. This allows for the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo to be in the same class of IDF fighters which includes F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-5 Tiger.
Origin of IDF Project in Taiwanese Defense Industry:-
The design and production for the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo were started only for the indigenous purpose following the US refusal to sell Sky Sword the fighters such as the F-16 and F-20. This was done mainly in order to increase the relationship of diplomatic natures between the US and China, which is a natural enemy of Taiwan. This left Taiwan with only one option and that was to start their own development project for creating their own IDF fighter. For this, AIDC of Taiwan was chosen and this led to the birth of the IDF Project in Taiwan. They created a fighter prototype named as AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo back on 28th May 1989.
Inspired heavily from the Design of F-16:-
For such a small island nation like Taiwan, this was a milestone achievement in the aeronautical industry. The work on this IDF project was started as early as in 1982. Despite suffering US strict stance on no sales of fighters, many American aircraft companies were still free from the obligation to present their technical assistance to AIDC online for creating this IDF fighter.
The assistance ranged from that of the airframe design to avionic software and from the integration of armaments to the development of powerplant. The primary defense contractor in this race to provide technical assistance was General Dynamics which already had a famed fighter like the F-16 Fighting Falcon In its resume. This is the primary reason that the final product of the IDF program looked to be heavily inspired by the F-16 design. Many of the design components that allow AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo to appear like that of F-16 are as follows.
- Design for fuselage
- Wing shaping
- The single vertical tail fin
Avionics and Radar:-
The company for creating the powerplant for the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo was ITEC (International Turbofan Engine Company), which was assisted by a US-based company named AlliedSignal now called Honeywell.
Just like the F-16, the cockpit of the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo also was fitted with the HOTAS (Hands-on Throttle and Stick) and HUD (Head-Up Display) controls.
As for the radar system of the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo, it was an evolved form of the APG-67 series radar that is used in F-20 Tigershark. As for the X-band Doppler System of the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo, it allows for the fighter to make the accurate tracking as well as engage the targets overseas and on land with a maximum accurate range of 35 miles.
This system is used to offer accurate targeting to strike enemies with the locally created missiles called Sky Sword I and Sky Sword II. These missiles also mimicked in many features with American made AIM-9 Sidewinder and the AIM-7 Sparrow missiles. The one behind the creation of these local missiles was the CSIST (Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology).
Powerplant and other specs:-
A single AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo is powered by 2 of the Honeywell F125-70 series turbofan engines; each of these engines is capable of creating a thrust of 9500lbs. this allows for the aircraft to gain a maximum speed of about Mach 1.8 for a maximum range of 680 miles at a ceiling of about 55000 feet.
The standard armament configuration for the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo follows the guidelines of the Western fighters as it is fitted with a single 20 mm M61A1 Gatling cannon internally for close aerial engagement.
As for the defense roles, the aircraft is fitted with the following missiles.
- For short-range threats, the aircraft can carry 4 of the Sky Sword I missiles
- 4 medium-range threats, the aircraft carries 4 Sky Sword II missiles
Provisions have also been made in the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo’s armament design to allow for it to carry following missiles.
- AGM-65 Maverick; an air-to-surface missile
- Hsuing Feng II; an anti-ship missile
Like all other modern fighters of today, the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo is also capable of freefalling guided munitions as per need of a mission.
The very first flight of AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo occurred back in January of 1989. This prototype was followed by three other prototype models designated as A-1, A-2, A-3, and A-4. The finest of the quality AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo were presented to ROCAF back in 1994.
Taiwan the only operator of AIDC F-CK-1:-
The government of Taiwan made an earlier plan to have 256 of these IDF fighters but until 1999 only 130 of these AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo aircraft could be manufactured and they are all in service of ROCAF making Taiwan the sole operator of this aircraft.
AIDC F-CK-1 Trainer:-
An announcement was made back in 2017 that a two-seat trainer variant of the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo was being created which will be given a designation as XT-5. The fight for this aircraft is scheduled at some point in 2020. This trainer is being made in order to replace ROCAF’s aging trainer aircraft like Northrop F-5s and AIDC’s AT-3s. The initial demand for this trainer from ROCAF is for 66 aircraft.