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The IDF Fighter program

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posted on Mar, 31 2006 @ 03:18 PM
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This is born out of some posts on BTS aircraft quiz thread.

Taiwan’s IDF (Indigenous Defense Fighter) project, now more commonly known as the Ching-Kuo, is a tale of great expectations followed by quite disappointment.

The story starts when the US blocked export of the then very advanced F-16a Fighting Falcon to Taiwan as replacements for the increasingly obsolete F-5 and F-104 fighters. Taiwan’s attention soon turned to the Northrop F-20 Tigershark, an improved descendant of the F-5 Tiger II which Taiwan already had in service, having assembled some 300 airframes locally. A $1billion deal for F-20s was on the cards.

But keen to appease China, that deal was also vetoed by the US government. So Taiwan started its own fighter program, the IDF. From the start it was to be a lightweight fighter. Although modernization programs were given a token consideration, work soon begun on designing a state of the art light fighter with twin engines. Although Taiwan had previously developed several aircraft, notably the AT-3 jet trainer, it had to bring in outside expertise to help design the aircraft. The main help came from US manufacturer General Dynamics (now Lockheed) who made the F-16.

Early concepts, around 1983, were quite striking in appearance. Perhaps the coolest was this beauty, design 401:


A chart showing the complete design progression is:
external image
A full sized version can be seen at: i2.tinypic.com...

Design 401 (and 404) shows F-16XL influence in the wing plan and general F-16 influences, though with twin engines widely separated:
(F-16XL)


Another early design, partially visible behind concept 401 above appears similar in configuration to the Mig-29 Fulcrum, again with widely separated under slung engines and twin fins:

This design is most like “C1” on the chart.

Unfortunately for air enthusiasts, the designs became progressively more conventional, adopting a closely coupled engine configuration and single tail, presumably to cut weight. An in-between model with a slightly more advanced intake arrangement:


The IDF program led to the Ching-kuo light fighter, which has some promising features but is generally thought of as underpowered. It was equipped with a Taiwanese development of the US APG-67 radar and indigenous Skysword I (AIM-9 Sidewinder derivative) dogfight missiles and Skysword II (AMARAAM equivalent) beyond visual range missiles. Whilst all these systems are probably very capable, it would have been undeniably cheaper to purchase off-the-shelf and they are increasingly outpaced by current export systems such as AMRAAM and MICA.

At any rate the US attitude to selling arms to Taiwan changed and F16s were later sold, which together with French supplied Mirage 2000-5s made the IDF something of a lesser priority and production was quietly trimmed back to just 130 units.




















[edit on 31-3-2006 by planeman]




posted on Apr, 1 2006 @ 08:31 AM
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I love the underwhelming response this type of post gets. Look this is proof that America keeps copying Russian designs (Mig 29 Fulcrum)! There, go argue on that!



posted on Apr, 1 2006 @ 09:20 AM
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Planeman, do you know in what sense the Ching Kuo is 'a dissapointment'?
I know very little about it but it appears to be a very competent effort in my view.



posted on Apr, 1 2006 @ 09:31 AM
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Since you posted that F-16XL pic... I've always wondered why they didn't use the formula to improve the F-16 offer instead of just using it as an F-15E competitor ?



posted on Apr, 1 2006 @ 09:41 AM
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The route of the dissapointment is down to the engines - compariatively poor thrust to weight ratio. Also short ranged.

As an airframe it has potential - give it a couple of EJ-200s, flank tanks and an incremental avionics upgrade and it could be up there with the 4.5 gen fighters.

But Taiwan doesnt seem to have made any efforts to export it - presumably an export restriction was factored into the development program - and at an estimated $24m unit price it isn't as cheap as comparable Russian/Chinese competitors. In this sense the production build of just 130 units really brings into question its cost effectiveness as an industry project. But Taiwan is a reasonably strong economy and developed country so it can afford this sort of project moreso than say India and Iran (who have moral issues re spurious defence spending given the poverty issues at home).

Another dissapointment comes with the radar and weapons - Taiwan invested a lot of money in an incremental improvement of a generic 1980s US radar - the result isn't bad but there are better units out there "off-the-shelf". The missiles too are not bad, but again, hardly cutting edge. With the deployment of the Mirage 2000-5 with MICA and it's superior radar, the IDF is second best even in Taiwan. The Mirage 2000-5 is (IMO) an all round superior aircraft in fact - a sentiment echoed by Taiwan's purchasing it. And the F-16s too.



posted on Apr, 1 2006 @ 10:38 AM
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[quoteLook this is proof that America keeps copying Russian designs (Mig 29 Fulcrum)! There, go argue on that!

What plane is a copy of the mig 29


Its defianatly not an f-14, f-15, f-16, f/a-18, f-22 or f-35.

So what is it


Justin



posted on Apr, 1 2006 @ 10:53 AM
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Originally posted by justin_barton3
So what is it



just sarcasm...



posted on Apr, 1 2006 @ 10:56 AM
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Originally posted by justin_barton3

What plane is a copy of the mig 29


Its defianatly not an f-14, f-15, f-16, f/a-18, f-22 or f-35.

So what is it


Justin
It was a joke Justin. But if you look at the "C1" design concept that was considered before the eventual layout of the IDF, it looks remarkably like the Mig 29. It can be seen beneath this image of the "401" design (C1 outlined in red):



posted on Apr, 1 2006 @ 08:35 PM
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Planeman you should go to key forum avation, (if your not already a member)








posted on Apr, 1 2006 @ 08:37 PM
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posted on Apr, 2 2006 @ 03:28 PM
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Typical of the American's to copy Russian aircraft...

lol.














[edit on 2-4-2006 by planeman]



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