AIDC’s modernization program for the F-CK-1 Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF)–also known as the Ching-kuo–is nearing the end of its latest development period. Phase I of the development test and evaluation campaign came to an end in 2007, and Phase II should draw to a close by the end of this year.
A mid-life update program for the IDF began in 2001. At the heart of the modernization lies the replacement of the core avionics computers, with expanded processing and memory. The radar gets an upgrade with electronic counter-countermeasures features, and new weapons include an expanded air-to-ground repertoire. In the air-to-air role, the upgraded F-CK-1 employs the active-radar TC-2 missile developed by CSIST. The system allows the simultaneous engagement of four targets rather then the current two.
AIDC has converted two IDFs to the new standard, an F-CK-1C single-seater (10005) and an F-CK-1D two-seater (10006). Airframe changes include strengthened undercarriage and more powerful brakes to handle increased weights. Much of the increase comes down to the two conformal fuel tanks that fit to either side of the aircraft’s spine. Each tank adds 600 pounds of fuel.
The Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) flies 128 IDFs in service, and no decision has yet been made for the MLU to enter production. But there is a good possibility that the program will receive the go-ahead soon, allowing initial operational test and evaluation to begin next year. AIDC and the ROCAF have plans for a two-phase program, with around two squadrons updated in the first phase and the remainder to follow.