TAIPEI — Two new jet fighter trainers have been unveiled at the 2015 Taipei Aerospace & Defense Technology Exhibition (TADTE), being held from Aug. 13-16 in Taiwan.

Taiwan's Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC) is proposing that the Air Force consider two fighter trainer options for replacing its aging AT-3 Tzu Chung advanced jet trainers, built by AIDC in the 1980s, and the F-5E/F Tiger trainers, which were also built by AIDC in cooperation with Northrop during the 1970s.

The first model shown at TADTE was the subsonic AT-3 MAX Advanced Trainer. The aircraft is based on the original AT-3 design, but will be a new build with have updated avionics and a glass cockpit.  

The second model, is based on AIDC’s Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF), and has been dubbed the XAT-5 Advanced Trainer. It will be outfitted with reinforced landing gear, increased fuel capacity, a glass cockpit and the same F124 engine.

Both aircraft will be new builds, rather than and not upgrades to older aircraft, an AIDC official said. The Air Force is expected to announce a tender in the 2016-17 time frame. The exact requirements are still being worked out, but it will either be a lead-in trainer, an advanced trainer or possibly a combination of both, he said.

AIDC also had a model of the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master transonic trainer on display alongside the AT-3 Max and XAT-5. The AIDC source said the Air Force might select the M-346 instead of a local buy, and AIDC wants to have a 50 percent local assembly option. The source also stated said that the Korea Aerospace Industries’ T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer was also is an option, the source said.

The XAT-5 Advanced Trainer is based on the AIDC's Indigenous Defense Fighter.

Photo Credit: Wendell Minnick/Staff

During TADTE, US-based Lockheed Martin announced the sale of the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) for its fleet of F-16A/B Block 20 fighter aircraft. According to an Aug. 13 news press release, Taiwan becomes the 20th international customer to select the Sniper ATP for its precision attack requirements.  In the initial contract, Lockheed Martin will provide two Sniper ATPs and integration support to Taiwan. The company will also provide integration support of Lockheed’s LANTIRN navigation and targeting pods on Taiwan’s F-16s.

"With Sniper ATP, pilots will have access to unmatched imagery for precision targeting and non-traditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance efforts, enabling greater overall mission success," Marc Nazon, Sniper ATP international program manager at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said in the news release.

Taiwan’s fleet of 146 F-16s is undergoing a midlife upgrade (MLU) that will include new avionics, structural reinforcements and active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. Lockheed was selected as the system integrator for the MLUupgrade, and Northrop Grumman’s scalable agile beam radar (SABR) will provide for the AESA requirement.