The Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) has taken delivery of the last two F-CK-1 fighters to be upgraded to the latest F-CK-1C/D standard.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense began an upgrade of the Indigenous Fighter (IDF) under the Xiang-Shen programme in 2001. The Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST) and the Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) developed single- and two-seat versions of the improved configuration in three phases. The first single-seat prototype, F-CK-1C 10005, was delivered on July 19, 2006, and completed its first flight on October 4. The first flight of the twin-seat prototype, F-CK-1D 10006, took place on March 15, 2007.
After two years of testing, the ROCAF signed a contract with AIDC for 127 enhanced F-CK-1C/Ds under the Xiang-Chan programme in December 2009. The upgrade includes improvements to the flight control computer and digital cockpit instruments. As well as an avionics system upgrade, the weapons load is increased, brake system improved, and the structure of the forward fuselage revised. Digital cockpit recorders and other items were also retrofitted.
The 127 upgraded IDFs were completed in two batches. The first batch – known as Xiang-Chan No 1 – upgraded 71 F-CK-1A/Bs of the Tainan-based 1st Tactical Fighter Wing between 2009 and 2013. The second batch, or Xiang-Chan No 2, addressed 56 F-CK-1A/Bs of the Taichung-based 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing between 2014 and 2017. The last of the No 2 batch was delivered last December 21 and became fully operational on March 9 this year.
After the ROCAF received its first batch of F-CK-1C/Ds in 2013, the two prototypes, 10005 and 10006, were gradually withdrawn from test duties. The ROCAF provided an F-CK-1C from the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing for subsequent tests. The original two upgrade prototypes began to undergo environmental protection for storage at the end of 2014. After the ROCAF received its second batch of F-CK-1C/Ds in 2017, the two prototypes began to be modified to this standard.
Recently, the prototypes completed their test work and were transferred to the air force as new F-CK-1C/Ds – 10005 and 10006 have received the revised serials 1504 and 1629. This increases the total number of IDFs in service to 129. Peter Ho