Taiwan tests ‘Brave Eagle’ prototype with landing gear down

Limited production of 66 aircraft over a six-year period will begin in November 2021

The Brave Eagle design is based on the twin-seater version of the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo Indigenous Defense Fighter. (Courtesy of Ministry of National Defense)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — A prototype of Taiwan’s new-generation advanced trainer aircraft “Brave Eagle” (勇鷹) took off on Wednesday in Taichung for a test flight alongside two IDF fighter jets from the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF, 空軍).

The plane is the cornerstone of President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) policy to boost the development of homegrown defense systems that increase self-sufficiency and reliance on Taiwan military capability.

The test flight went smoothly with the plane seen taking off and flying from and to the military airbase in central Taiwan with the landing gear still down.

In the first flight, the goal was to check out basic functionality and how well the low-speed performance was predicted.

Given that the landing gear is just a minor, yet complex, part of a new plane that cost billions of dollars to develop, it is customary to conduct the first flight with the landing gear down.

If the aircraft must land in case of emergency, military experts believe that it is always better to keep the landing gear in an extended position.

The Brave Eagle design is based on the twin-seater version of the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF), but with the incorporation of 80 percent of new components.

Highlights include the increased use of composite materials to reduce weight, greater fuel capacity, a different wing profile for slower, more stable low-level flight, removal of the gun, as well as the use of the non-afterburning Honeywell/ITEC F124-200TW.

Limited production of 66 aircraft over a six-year period will begin in November 2021. The project, which cost NT$65.1 billion (US$2.2 billion) to develop aims to replacing the AIDC AT-3 and Northrop F-5E/F which are utilized as advanced trainers and lead-in fighter trainers (LIFT) respectively.

The program is a joint collaboration between the state-owned National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) and the Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC).