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June 27, 2017

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Military's upgraded IDF jet fleet photos go public

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The R.O.C. Air Force yesterday made public the photographs of a first batch of upgraded, locally developed Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) jets taken at an air base in the southern city of Tainan.

The photographs taken by the Military News Agency (軍聞社) and made public by a military spokesman on his Facebook page yesterday showcase the trainings of the pilots and ground crew of the 443rd Tactical Fighter Wing at the Tainan air base with the newly introduced IDF C/D aircraft.

The 443rd Tactical Fighter Wing is the first fighter wing in the R.O.C. Air Force featuring the upgraded IDF fighters.

The fighter wing in Tainan received the first batch of upgraded IDF jets during a ceremony this January.

The ceremony was attended by President Ma Ying-jeou and Defense Minister Yen Ming (嚴明), marking the upgrading of the 71 IDF fighters at the Tainan air base by Taichung-based Aerospace Industrial Development Corp (AIDC, 漢翔).

The locally built IDF "Ching-Kuo" (經國號) fighters were developed and manufactured by the AIDC in 1988. The aircraft was named after the late President Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國).

In a move to upgrade these fighters, Taiwan military decided to spend NT$17 billion to upgrade 71 IDFs as part of a four-year project that began in 2009. The Air Force currently has 127 IDFs.

According to the Air Force, the upgrade program was mainly to strengthen the air-to-land strike capacity of the jets.

All of the IDF C/D fleet at the Tainan base is now capable of carrying the Wan Chien long-range air-to-surface missile system (萬劍飛彈), which was researched and produced by the military-run Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (中山科學研究院).

According to ruling Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), the R.O.C. military is scheduled to start mass production of the locally developed Wan Chien system in 2015.

The weapon can be launched at a distance from targets, enabling Taiwan's fighter jets to avoid risking defensive anti-aircraft fire from mainland China when launching the new armaments, Lin said.

The long-range missiles could also cause significant damage to mainland Chinese troops, harbors, missiles and radar installations located at the opposite side of the Taiwan Strait, he said.

According to the Air Force, Wan Chien missiles have a maximum range of 200 kilometers or more.

The long range means R.O.C. fighter jets will not need to launch the missiles in mainland Chinese airspace.

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