TAIPEI --- Assembly of Taiwan's new advanced jet trainers (AJT) officially began Friday with a launch ceremony held at the Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC) in Taichung.
The AIDC, known for developing the country's indigenous Ching-kuo fighter, has been commissioned by the Ministry of National Defense to design and manufacture 66 of the advanced jet trainers, with the first prototype scheduled to be rolled out in 2019 and flight testing expected to be conducted starting in June 2020.
The advanced trainers are scheduled to be delivered by 2026 and will replace the military's AT-3 trainer aircraft and F-5 fighter jets, which are over 30 years old.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Tsai Ing-wen said the new trainers reflect Taiwan's goal of developing its own indigenous defense systems in an effort to enhance the combat and defense capabilities of the nation's armed forces as well as national security.
The aviation industry is part of the government's "5 plus 2 Industrial Innovation Program" aimed at boosting Taiwan's competitiveness, Tsai said.
The "5 plus 2" industries refer to seven development projects proposed by the government to transform Taiwan's economic and industrial structures. They include projects related to the biotech, green energy, aviation, smart machinery and defense industries.
This project alone has created 1,000 new jobs in the aviation industry, she went on, adding that other job opportunities are bound to arise as Taiwan continues to develop its defense industry.
Taiwan must move toward the path of self-reliance in order to develop its national defense capabilities, even if it is one step at a time, Tsai said.