TAIPEI, Taiwan --- The Taiwanese Air Force announced on March 9 that it would put its fleet of multirole Indigenous Defense Fighters (IDF) through an upgrade process to enable them to penetrate and attack enemy anti-air defense networks. The Air Force operates a fleet of 126 of these locally-built fighters, also referred to as F-CK-1 Ching Kuo.
Built in the early 1990s by Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) with cooperation from foreign companies, namely Lockheed Martin, the fleet consists of two variants, the single-seat A and B (two-seat) models. The program was initiated by Taiwan when the U.S. refused to sell it F-20 and F-16 fighters in the face of strong diplomatic pressure from China. A $587 million midlife upgrade for the entire fleet was launched in 2009 and carried out by AIDC in order to extend the fleet's useful service lives out another 20 years.
The latest update will bring the fleet up to C- and D-level variants, featuring improvements to the aircrafts avionics, radar, flight software and an introduction of an entirely new range of precision weaponry designed by the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST). The improvements will also further extend the lifespans of the aircraft while also helping providing a learn foundation for the Air Force as it undertakes research and later development on a new generation of combat aircraft.