Taiwan's first series production Brave Eagle advanced trainer jet makes maiden flight

Taiwan Brave Eagle first flight
Taiwan's first series production Brave Eagle advanced trainer aircraft takes off from Qingquangang Air Base, Taichung, to conduct its maiden flight.

Taiwan's first indigenous series producton Brave Eagle Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) made its maiden flight on Tuesday, according to local news agency CNA.

The trainer took off in the morning from Qingquangang Air Base, Taichung, along with the first prototype of the Brave Eagle as a chase aircraft. The event marked a major milestone for Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC), the aircraft manufacturer, which is expected to deliver the first two series aircraft by the end of the year.

The AIDC delivered the first two prototypes (#11001, 11002) to Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF) last March for evaluation flights.

The AJT project was started in 2017 as a result of a partnership between AIDC and the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology. The aircraft is intended to replace the AIDC AT-3 and Northrop F-5E/F Tiger advanced trainer aircraft in the RoCAF fleet.

The Brave Eagle is an advanced trainer supersonic jet based on the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo aircraft. It was selected by the RoCAF after evaluating a modernized AT-3 variant (the AT-3 MAX), the Leonardo M-346 and the KAI T-50 Golden Eagle.

The XAT-5 prototype was officially unveiled in September 2019 and made its first flight on 10 June 2020. A second prototype followed in December 2020. Originally developed under the name Blue Magpie, the aircraft was renamed during the rollout ceremony, after a public competition to find a name for the plane.

The AIDC will build another AJT by the end of the year and these two series aircraft will join the RoCAF test program. Initial low-rate production will begin in November 2021 and full-scale production in March 2023. The RoCAF requirement is for a total of 66 production aircraft with deliveries expected to be completed by June 2026.

Although the Brave Eagle resembles the F-CK-1 aircraft and features the same engines, 80% of the components are new, including a composite fuselage, advanced avionics (including AESA radar), increased fuel capacity and a new airfoil thicker to increase the stability of the jet at low speeds.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Image: CNA

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