In 1982, Taiwan embarked on an ambitious program to build a fighter aircraft to replace its F-5 and F-104. With U.S. assistance, an air defense fighter was designed by the Aero Industry Development Center (AIDC) in Taichung and named after a former Taiwanese president, Chiang Ching-Kuo. This air superiority fighter is a combination of the F-16 and the F/A-18.
Four prototypes were ordered: three single-seaters and one two-seater; the first flight of the single-seater took place on 28 May 1989. The Ching-Kuo fighter was powered by two Garrett TFE 1042-70 turbojet engines, each providing 3,783 kg of thrust; these engines were manufactured in Taiwan by the International Turbo Engine Company and were equipped with an afterburner as part of the Yun Han (Cloud Man) program. The airframe was designed with General Dynamics under the Ying Yang (Eagle in Flight) program; the avionics were purchased and integrated under the direction of Lear Siegler under the Tien Lei (Thunder of the Sky) program and the missiles constituting the basic armament developed under the Tien Chien (Sword of the Sky) program.
The armament also included a 20 mm IA Vulcan rotary cannon and four Sky Sword I short-range air-to-air missiles and two Sky Sword 11 medium-range missiles, with an external payload capacity of 4,082 kg. The first of the ten pre-production Ching-Kuo (a two-seater) flew in 1992: the production of the following 130 was put on schedule. The Ching Kuo entered service in Taiwan in 1993.
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