Taipei, Sept. 24 (CNA) A prototype of Taiwan's new indigenous advanced jet trainer (AJT), named "Yung Yin (勇鷹)" or Brave Eagle, was unveiled on Tuesday, as part of the country's effort to become more self-reliant regarding its defense.
At the unveiling ceremony in Taichung, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said the advanced jet trainer was a milestone achieved by the Republic of China (Taiwan) Air Force and aerospace industry, with many difficulties along the way.
The production of the AJT is also in line with Taiwan's efforts toward developing its own defense capability, Tsai said at the ceremony at a manufacturing plant operated by the government-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC).
Since the AJT project was launched in 2017, it has created 1,200 jobs and it is expected to employ another 800 people in 2021 as half of the contracts will remain in Taiwan, Tsai said.
A budget of NT$66.8 billion (US$2.1 billion) was allocated to the project for the research and development of the prototype and production of 66 AJTs, according to the president.
The production of the indigenous AJT was an indication of Taiwan's advances in the fields of defense aerospace technology, domestic aerospace technology and the cultivation of aerospace talent, Tsai said at the unveiling, which was also attended by government officials from security, defense and economic agencies.
The "Yung Yin," which was so named in a public online contest last year, looks similar to the Ching-kuo jet fighter that is also manufactured by the AIDC, but 80 percent of the AJT's design is new, resulting in a more lightweight composite body, according to the Ministry of National Defense (MND).
While inheriting some aspects of the Ching-kuo jet fighter such as low air resistance and high attack angle, the AJT has greater fuel capacity and a larger landing gear for a more stable ground run, the MND said.
The Brave Eagle will replace the military's decades-old AT-3 trainer aircraft and F-5E/F lead-in fighter trainer, the MND said.
The AJT project was commissioned to the AIDC in April 2017 and got off the ground in June 2018, on the basis of an agreement signed in February 2017 between Taiwan's Air Force and the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST).
Flight testing of the new plane is expected to start in June 2020, and the 66 AJTs are scheduled to be delivered by 2026, according to the MND.