Whether you like Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lighting II stealth fighter or not, it is clear that the American aircraft has inspired many programs around the world since it entered service. We already knew the program South Korean K-FX with the KF-21 Boramae presented last year, Turkish TF-X program which today is encountering significant difficulties following Western sanctions, or even the Japanese FX, which today seems to be getting closer to the British Tempest. Beyond the Western sphere, there is little doubt that the Lighting II has inspired the future Chinese J-35 which will equip the aircraft carriers of Beijingas the Russian Su-75 checkmate program with an uncertain future was clearly designed to respond to the American offer in this area. A new program has just joined this list of fighters inspired by the F-35, this time on the island of Taiwan, the Next Generation Main Fighter Development Project.
Taipei had made no secret of its intention to develop a new combat device, after the F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo derived from the F-16. But until now, we did not know which axes would be followed by the Taiwanese engineers. We now know more since the publication of several information by the Up Media website, and in particular concerning the will of the authorities of Taiwan to be equipped with an apparatus offering capacities similar to that of the plane of Lockheed, of which it would be inspired at least as much as the South Korean KF-21. In addition, the program will rely largely on imported technologies (including American), in particular with regard to its turbojets and its avionics. Finally, Taipei intends that the prototype of the device will make its first taxiing before the end of the mandate of the president Tsai Ing-Wen, in May 2024, and its first flight the following year.
According to the website, if initially the Taiwanese engineers thought of using a solution based on an evolution of the Honeywell/ITEC F125-GA-100 turbojet which equips the F-CK-1, it now seems that the General Electric F-414, which propels already the American Super Hornet, and which has achieved significant international success to equip many programs such as the Swedish Gripen E, the South Korean KF-21 Boramae or even the Tejas Mk2 and the Indian AMCA, is privileged. This suggests that as for the KF-21 and the T-FX, the new Taiwanese fighter will also be twin-engine, just like the F-CK-1 already is, a configuration better suited for naval air missions, and above all imposed to propel an average fighter while the overpowered but fragile F-135 turbojet of the F-35 is not offered for export either. The avionics would be mostly provided by L3 Harris and BAE, while the AESA radar model and the human-machine interface in the cockpit will be announced before the end of the month.
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