Air International 2009-01
P.Foster - ROCAF Facing the Dragon /Military/
The arrival of the Lockheed Martin F-16A Fighting Falcon in 1997 gave the ROCAF a significant edge over communist China's fighters. Upgrades have to some degree maintained that combat lead, but the future looks increasingly bleak as the People's Liberation Army Air Force continues to re-equip and modernize, leaving the nationalist air force behind. Here, one of the first F-16s to be delivered, 6612, of the 21st TFG at Chiayi, is seen making a spirited climb.
Sikorsky S-70s replaced the reliable, but short-ranged and less sophisticated, Bell UH-1 Iroquois in the SAR role. The ROCAF has 17 of these helicopters, operated by the Air Rescue Group at Chiayi, although a permanent detachment is maintained at Taipei's old airport of Sungshan.
Taiwan has a fleet of six Hawkeyes, assigned to the 2nd Early Warning Squadron at Ping Tung. This aircraft, serialled 2502, pictured at Chiayi, sports the US Navy E-2B Bureau Number 151710 and is believed to be the sole second-hand airframe received. The other three in the batch were new-build aircraft.
Taiwanese company Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation was established in 1969 and has produced a number of aircraft for the ROCAF. Its most advanced to date is the Ching Kuo, though initially it started with trainers. Its first jet trainer was the AT-3, pictured, which went into production in 1977. Sixty-three were built.
Taiwan has been one of the few countries to produce its own fighter aircraft - in this case, the Ching Kuo. A twin-seat derivative, F-CK-1B No 1602, one of 28 built, is pictured landing at Chiayi Air Base. This aircraft is based at Ching Chuan Kang (CCK), home of the 427th TFW, which was the first unit to receive the type.
Beech 1900C-1s serve the ROCAF in a number of roles. Two of the operational fleet of eleven undertake airfield calibration duties, one example is usually detached to the Air Force Academy for multi-engined pilot training, and the rest transport personnel and stores between bases.
This EC-130HE Hercules, assigned to the 6th Electronic Warfare Squadron, is the unit's sole mount and one of the ROCAF's more secretive aircraft.
In attempt to break the US stranglehold on Taiwanese political thinking, the ROCAF opted for 60 Mirage 2000-5s from the French company Dassault to replace the last of its ageing Lockheed F-104 Starfighters. Two-seat Mirage 2000-5Di, 2060, from the 499th TFW, is seen on approach to its home base of Hsinchu.
Not only did AIDC produce a number of aircraft, it was also responsible for the licence-production of the Northrop F-5 Tiger II. Today, only the 7th TFW at Taidong and the 4th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Hualein still operate the type. The 46th TFG from the 7th TFW serves as the aggressor squadron and a number of its aircraft have received appropriate tactical schemes, as depicted here on F-5F 5404.