Taiwan Begins Development of New Trainer/Attack Jet called ‘XT-5 Blue Magpie’

By | Feb 09, 2017 07:54 AM EST
New jet trainer

Scale model of the XT-5 Blue Magpie. (Photo : TVBS)

The Republic of China (Taiwan) will develop a next generation advanced trainer jet that might one day become a combat capable ground attack aircraft as it continues to reinforce the Republic of China Armed Forces to deter a cross strait invasion by communist China.

The government of President Tsai Ing-wen on Feb. 7 signed a memorandum Tuesday in Taichung City with the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) to develop this next generation advanced trainer jet, which has been named "XT-5 Blue Magpie."

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President Tsai, who was present at the signing ceremony, called it an important milestone for a self-sufficient national defense. The memorandum was signed by Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) Commander General Shen Yi-ming and NCSIST President Chang Guan-chung.

"Investing over T$68 billion ($2.19 billion) in new model advanced jet trainers, not only lays the foundation for the development of our future air combat capability, but also lets our aerospace industry continue to develop," said President Tsai at  the signing ceremony.

Under the deal, CSIST will develop the jet to replace ROCAF's aging fleet of U.S.-made Northrop F-5E/F jet fighters and Taiwan's indigenous AT-3 jet trainers. The XT-5 Blue Magpie is scheduled to become operational with ROCAF in 2026.

ROCAF plans to order 66 of the Blue Magpies. The jets, however will be built by Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC), a state-owned aerospace company and Taiwan's only jet maker, which is under the Ministry of Economic Affairs. AIDC is known for developing the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-kuo fighter.

NCSIST is the primary research and development institution of the Ministry of National Defense's Armaments Bureau, and develops the country's weapons systems and dual use technologies.

Tsai said the XT-5 Blue Magpie will give Taiwan an important opportunity to cultivate and utilize local talent. Developing the local defense industry is a cornerstone of the Tsai's defense policies.

She also called for a renewed emphasis on homegrown aviation talent and technology. She said that an interruption in developing aviation technology will be a disaster for national security and industrial development.

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