Text & Pictures: Philippe Decock  -  © sbap 2020
 
 

ROCAF 1st (433) Wing – Tainan Air Base

 
History and development of the 1st Wing

The 1st Wing was formed in Hankou on September 15, 1945 and was previously known as the Air Force 1st Wing Command. This was the reorganization of the previous Chinese-American Composite Wing, and was directly subordinated to the Aviation Committee.
In the Autumn of 1945, The Air Force changed into the military region system and the code of the 1st wing ceased to exist.
The Air Force was re-grouped in Taiwan on December 1, 1952 and the unit has resumed the code as the 1st Wing bearing the full title of "Air Force 1st Combat Bomber Wing".
The wing was ordered to station in Tainan in 1953, and started to operate the Republic F-84G Thunderjet fighters on June 1 of the same year. The "Thunder Tiger" Flying Team was formed on August 14, 1954.
The North American F-86F Sabre was first deployed on September 4, 1958. The wing was renamed "Air Force 1st Tactical Wing" on June 16, 1960, and started to replace the F-86F with the Northrop F-5A/B Freedom Fighter on March 24, 1968.
On December 16, 1970, the 71st Air Support Control Squadron saw the introduction into service of the Cessna O-1G Bird Dog.
The wing started to operate Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II fighters on December 17, 1974, and was renamed "Air Force 443rd Tactical Wing" on August 16, 1976.
The 71st Air Support Control Squadron phased out the O-1G from the late seventies and took over the locally designed AIDC A-CH-1 Chung-Hsing Trainer/Light Attack/Armed Reconnaissance aircraft, and was renamed 71st Air Control and Attack Squadron.
The 72nd Air Control and Combat Squadron was put under its command on May 1, 1987. In consideration of the heavy burden of the wing in combat exercise drill, the Air Force General Command Headquarters assigned the "Thunder Tiger" team to the Air Force Academy on May 12, 1989. The 72nd Squadron was merged into the 71st Squadron on August 1, 1991, while the latter was officially dissolved on January 1, 1996 under the new military deployment of the air force in conformity to the "Streamlining Program".
In March 1997, the AIDC F-CK-1 "Ching-Kuo" , also called IDF (Indigenous Defense Fighter), was assigned to the wing in accordance with the "Planning of the Replacement of Equipment for the Buildup of the New Generation of The Air Force". The equipement of the Wing with the new fighter was completed with the formation of the 1st and the 3rd Groups on January 7, 1999. The ceremony of the formation of the 9th Group was held on July 14, 2000 to execute the order of the defense of the air space over the Taiwan Straits through combat, exercise drill, and training missions. For enhancing the performance of the F-CK-1, the wing unfolded the "IDF MLU Development Project" at AIDC in Taichung, with delivery of the first modernized aircraft on May 5, 2011. The wing then performed various types of combat, exercise drills and training missions for safeguarding the security of the air space over the Taiwan Straits.
   
 
The 1st Wing / 443rd Tactical Wing today :
Three squadrons (Tactical Fighter Groups) are part of today's 1st/443rd Wing : 1st TFG, 3rd TFG and 9th TFG.
All three squadrons are equipped with the AIDC F-CK-1C/D "Ching-Kuo".
     
1 TFG two-seater on maintenance
(Courtesy ROCAF via web)
F-CK-1C being prepared for the next flight
(Courtesy ROCAF via web)
 1 TFG flight line
(Courtesy ROCAF via web)
Ready for inspection
(Courtesy ROCAF via web)
 Beautiful alignment
(Courtesy ROCAF via web)
F-CK-1 on taxi
(Courtesy ROCAF via web)
 A pair of F-CK-1C's on final Airbrakes out
 1TFG F-CK-1D on final
 1494 on final Nose section
 F-CK-1C 1494 F-CK-1D 1612
 F-CK-1C 1487 on final
 Close up on the cockpit 1478 on final
F-CK-1C intercepting a communist China Tu-154M
(Courtesy ROCAF via web)
Xian H-6K, a Tupolev Tu-16 derivative
(Courtesy ROCAF via web)
 Shaanxi Y-8CB ELINT, an Antonov An-12 derivative
(Courtesy ROCAF via web)
 1 TFG, 3 TFG, 9 TFG
F-CK-1C 1473 with an ACMI pod
 Close up on the nose F-CK-1C 1490
 1444 on final At the break
 1458 turning final Followed by 1466
 Nose section 1481 on final
 F-CK-1C 1475
 F-CK-1D 1628
 1613 on final 1627 is back
 3 TFG F-CK-1C Note the captive AIM-9P
 1478 on final Followed by 1623
 F-CK-1D nose section Note the M61 gun muzzle
 F-CK-1D 1612
The "Ching Kuo" in action
(Artist view DR via web)
Sunset flight
(Courtesy ROCAF via web)
 
 
AIDC F-CK-1 "Ching Kuo"
 
In the late 1970's, the United States moved closer to mainland China, abandoning Taiwan and stopping arms deliveries. This is how Tchang Ching-Kuo, the son of Tchang Kaï-Chek, instructed AIDC (Aerospace Industrial Development Corp) to design an aircraft free from American supervision, intended to replace the F-5 and F-104 fleet . It was the Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF), launched on August 28th, 1980 and developed as from May 1982. The needs concerned an air superiority plane capable of countering the Chinese J-7 and J-8, with ground attack and anti-ship control as secondary capabilities.
The project "An Hsian"g (Safe Flight) was divided into 4 programs. The one concerning the cell was called "Ying Yang" (Eagle in flight), and was carried out in cooperation with General Dynamics. This gave a cell comparable to both F-16 and F / A-18, with the nose of the F-20 (Tiger shark), and capable to endure a 9 G charge factor. The design was frozen in 1985, with a strong participation of American engineers under contract.
 
The prototype 01
(Courtesy AIDC Archives)
President Lee Teng-Hui during the official roll-out (10-12-1988)
(Courtesy AIDC Archives)
The prototype 02
(Courtesy AIDC Archives)
The 01 climbing in the Taiwanese sky
(Courtesy AIDC Archives)
 
The engine project was called "Yun Han" (the Cloud Man), and ended up on the Garrett TFE 1042-70 manufactured under license by International Turbo Engine Company. The engine is a dual-flow turbojets with afterburner.
The avionic part of the project was called "Tien Lei" (Thunder of the sky) and benefited from Westinghouse assistance, which proposed a "Kam-Lung" (Golden Dragon) GD-53 with a range of 150 km, derived from the AN / APG67 working in X-band. This radar has look-down, shoot-down, air-to-air and air-to-sea search modes. The aircraft also benefits a CDVE with triple redundancy designed by BAe Systems, the H423 inertial navigation system from Honeywell, two Bendix multi-function screens, an HOTAS system and an Elbit head-up display.
Finally, the armaments program (mainly missiles) was named "Tien Chien" (Sky sword) and resulted in two missiles. The "Tien Chien I", a short range (5 km) missile infrared guided, derived from the AIM-9L Sidewinder and the "Tien Chen II", a medium range (60 km) missile with radar guidance and extrapolated from the AIM-120 AMRAAM. They were tested in 1992 and 1994 respectively. The aircraft can also carry 3 "Hsuing-Feng II" anti-ship missiles or AGM-65 Maverick missiles.
Note that the aircraft is also equipped with a pair of Martin-Baker Mk.12 zero-zero ejection seat tilted at 30 °.
 
A One-O-Four as chase plane
(Courtesy AIDC Archives)
Armament testing flight
(Courtesy AIDC Archives)
The prototype 03 in action
(Courtesy AIDC Archives)
A wide variety of weaponry is possible
(Courtesy AIDC Archives)
 

The single-seat prototype aircraft, coded 77-8001, left the factory on December 10th, 1988 and was named A-1 Ching-Kuo, in honor of the initiator of the project. The Ministry of Defense named it F-CK-1 (F for Fighter, CK for Ching-Kuo, and 1 as this was the first Taiwanese conception fighter). The first prototype made its flight on May 28th, 1989. The second prototype, coded 78-8002, flew for the first time on September 27th, 1989, but was lost in an accident on July 12th, 1991. The third prototype coded 78-8003 did its maiden flight on January 10th, 1990, and finally the first two-seater prototype coded 79-8004 took off for the first time on July 10th, 1990. Ten pre-series aircraft (6 single-seaters and 4 two-seaters) were also built between 1990 and 1993 and were delivered to the 7th TFS on November 22nd, 1993.
The Defense Ministry initial order was for 256 aircraft but the amount was reduced to 103 F-CK-1A single-seaters and 27 F-CK-1B two-seaters in September 1991, both for budgetary reasons and because the order launched for Lockheed-Martin F-16A/B and Dassault Mirage 2000-5.
The unitary price of the F-CK-1 is estimated between 25 and 30 million US dollars. The two-seater, although intended for training, retains the combat capabilities of the single-seater.
Flight tests lasted until October 1st, 1997 and totalized 2.950 flight hours. However, the first production aircraft flew on January 10th, 1994 and entered service with the 8th TFS in December 1994. Mass production began in the same year. After 51 produced units, the production was discontinued from October 1995 to May 1996 in order to modify the fuel management system. It resumed until 2000 and the last aircraft was delivered to the ROCAF in July 2000.
The Ching-Kuo has never experienced real enemy fire conditions and has never been exported. The aircraft seems well a little bit underpowered, with a limited capacity in terms of carrying loads and autonomy. Therefore, the aircraft is closer to an F-20 "Tigershark" or a Mitsubishi F-1.
In 2013, it was reported that 71 ROCAF "Ching Kuo" aircraft out of the 120 remaining operational were to be upgraded. Among other things, this modernization was planned to ensure the compatibility of the aircraft with a new missile with cluster warheads. These missiles have a range of 200 km and carry up to 100 sub munitions.

 
 
 
The future: AIDC AJT / AT-5 "Yung-Ying" (Brave Eagle)
 
The newcomer
(Courtesy AIDC Media)
 

The rollout ceremony of the new Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) for the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) took place at the Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation's (AIDC's) Sha-lu complex on September 24, 2019. The ceremony was officiated by Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen and was attended by officials from the R.O.C.'s National Security Council, the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Economic Affairs as well as R.O.C. legislators and distinguished representatives from the international and domestic aerospace industry as well as AIDC itself.
The impressive exterior painting of the AJT incorporated the red, white and blue colors of Taiwan's national flag. At the ceremony, the aircraft was officially named by the President Tsai as the Yung-ying (Brave Eagle) which won the online voting contest participated by the public. Sitting in the cockpit, President Tsai recognized the outstanding performance of the aircraft upon being briefed by an AIDC flight instructor.
President Tsai later inspected aircraft components manufactured in Taiwan and the Ground-Based Training System (GBTS) developed by the National Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) which was showcased for the first time at the event. The GBTS enhances the overall training results and efficiently saves operational and maintenance costs of the aircraft through customized flight simulation and computer-aided training system for logistics and maintenance. With readily available and comprehensive ground testing and flight test data, the fleet management, maintenance throughout 30-year lifespan and performance upgrade of the aircraft can be performed domestically in Taiwan.

 
Engineers on duty
(Courtesy AIDC Media)
Working on the new concept
(Courtesy AIDC Media)
The "Yung-Ying" is clearly derivate from the "Ching-Kuo"
(Courtesy AIDC Media)
The official presentation of the AJT (AT-5) on 24-09-2019
(Courtesy AIDC Media)
 
By incorporating 80 percent improvement into the design of the F-CK-1 Ching-kuo, the indigenous defensive fighter (IDF), the AJT has the aerodynamic characteristics such as low air resistance and high angle of attack and uses F124-200TW, an engine jointly produced by AIDC and ITEC. Moreover, the flight characteristics were enhanced since the weight was greatly reduced because of significant changes in the air structure and increased utilization of composite materials.
To meet ROCAF's requirement of the AJT, the cross-section of the wing was modified to lower the velocity of approach and increase the stability during low-speed flight, which allows the pilots-in-training to acquire the basic flight skills and develop basic combat skills in a short time.
The parting line of the aircraft was raised to increase the fuel carriage capacity in order to extend flight duration and range. Main landing gears were re-positioned to strengthen taxiing stability. The digital flight control system and multiple avionics were manufactured either by Taiwanese companies or under co-production with foreign partners, which ensure that Taiwan has the ability to upgrade and modify the software and hardware of the aircraft. Furthermore, the AJT and the IDF share many of the system components, allowing the ROCAF to shorten pilot training and reduce logistics and maintenance costs.
Taking into consideration the streamlining of ROCAF's pilot training program, several aircraft configurations were planned in the design phase. It was finally determined that the AJT would use the IDF as its reference aircraft which would allow the AJT to perform a key role in both advanced flight training and lead-in fighter training. As there are certain systems, subsystems and components common to both the AJT and the IDF, problems of diminishing manufacturing sources, logistics and maintenance are minimized.
The agreement of the AJT project was signed between the ROCAF and the NCSIST on February 7, 2017. AIDC was commissioned by the NCSIST on April 25, 2017 and the aircraft assembly process began on June 1, 2018. The AJT is on schedule to make its first flight in June 2020. The ceremony also featured a 5-minute video highlighting major activities in the 480 days from assembly to the rollout ceremony.
In addition to adopting the colors in the national flag, the geometric shapes at the aircraft's after section and on its underside demonstrate the spirit of rocketing up and marching forward. The aircraft is to replace the AT-3 and the F-5E/F and will reduce pilot training process from three stages, three types to three stages, two types In addition to satisfying a vital requirement of the ROCAF, the AJT also serves as the cornerstone and manifestation of the Taiwan government's policy of developing indigenous defensive systems.
 
Note the kind of fast pack on the fuselage
(Courtesy AIDC Media)
The "Brave Eagle" upon landing
(Courtesy AIDC Media)
The AIDC "Ching-Kuo" and "Yung-Ying" family
(Courtesy AIDC Media)
The prototype 05 waiting for a test mission
(Courtesy AIDC Media)
The future of the ROCAF, "Brave Eagle" single seat and dual seat
(Courtesy AIDC Media)

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