The aerial target towing taskings of the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) were assumed by the F-CK-1 Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) from April, Peter Ho reports. State-owned aerospace company Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) has modified two F-CK-1Cs — serial numbers 1451 and 1452 — to carry the RM-30B reeling machine launcher and the TDK-39 tow target.
Initial testing of the system was carried out by AIDC on IDF prototype serial 10003 at the end of 2015 and modifications to serial 1451 began in 2016. The company is contracted by the ROCAF to provide target towing services and has previously used the F-5E Tiger II for such missions.
The IDFs deployed to various bases in April and May and supported air gunnery exercises by ROCAF F-16s, Mirage 2000s and IDFs. AIDC also operates an IAI Astra SPX which is utilised for the Republic of China Navy (ROCN)’s surface-to-air gunnery exercises.
Taiwan completed the second phase of an upgrade programme for its F-CK-1 fleet late last year. The final two upgraded aircraft were handed over by AIDC to the ROCAF last December 21.
Under Phase 1 of the Hsiang-chan programme, 71 of these aircraft underwent an avionics and weapons upgrade starting from 2009. Phase 2 involved modernising 56 aircraft from F-CK-1A/B to F-CK-1C/D standard. The aircraft now have an all-glass cockpit, 32-bit flight control computer and improved electronic warfare capabilities. The undercarriage has also been strengthened and a digital anti-skid system fitted. A proposal to install conformal tanks was, however, not carried out. The weapons options also now include the Wan Chien standoff cruise missile.