16 Jun 16. Taiwan Weighs Vendor Options for New Fighter-Trainer Plane. Taiwan’s defense minister intends to continue newly elected President Tsai Ing-wen’s pledge to develop indigenous weapon systems and wean Taiwan off its dependency on US-made arms.
Newly appointed minister Feng Shih-kuan and other ministry officials emphasized that policy once again during the minister’s Dragon Boat Festival banquet on June 13.
Of particular interest to Feng is the local production of a new fighter-trainer to replace the aging AT-3 Tzu Chung attack/trainer, produced by the state-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) in the 1980s. Feng served as AIDC chairman from 2006-2008, and his expertise in industrial defense manufacturing was a key factor in his appointment as the new defense minister.
The replacement for the AT-3 has been dubbed the XAT-5 advanced jet trainer, nicknamed the “Blue Magpie.” The air force has a requirement for 66 aircraft for two training bases: one in Taitung to replace the aging F-5E/F Tigers and the other in Kangshan to replace the AT-3s. The XAT-5 is a derivative of the AIDC-produced Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) built during the 1990s.
According to an internal defense industry briefing, produced by AIDC consultants and obtained by Defense News, the budget for the XAT-5 is $2.3bn, minus research and development roughly estimated at $300m. The first prototype is scheduled for 2019 with a final operational clearance (FOC) in 2024. “That is earlier than the US Air Force’s TX program, which has an IOC [Initial Operation Clearance] of 2024 and an FOC of 2034,” the briefing states.
US defense-industry teams, including Boeing/Saab and Raytheon/Alenia, still have an opportunity to participate in the bidding for the XAT-5 program if they can meet the requirements. The Raytheon/Alenia T-100/M-346 attack trainer program’s performance and schedule does meet Taiwan’s requirements, but “costs are an uncertainty,” the briefing states. The Boeing/Northrop design is still classified, but if the vendors can “finish all document preparation by the end of 2016,” then they should send a team to Taipei no later than August to meet with air force officials, legislators and AIDC officials, the document adds.
At present, the XAT-5 program is broken down into indigenous and external participation. The goal is to have the entire airframe made domestically, 50/50 percent foreign and indigenous participation on the engine, and 20-30 percent domestically sourced work on equipment such as avionics and radars, according to the briefing. That means that US companies have a “great opportunity” to participate in the program.
There are some critics of the government’s approach. A former Taiwan Air Force flag officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, contended the XAT-5 program has flaws because it is based on the Indigenous Defense Fighter’s 1990s technology, it lacks a radar or afterburner, and AIDC’s engine-production capability is not entirely assured. (Source: Defense News)
17 Jun 16. Existing design to be chosen for Canadian Surface Combatant. The Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN’s) Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) requirement is to be streamlined and an existing design chosen instead of a new one, Canada’s Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Judy Foote, announced on 13 June. The CSC project is intended to replace the RCNs Halifax-class frigates and Iroquois-class destroyers, becoming the mainstay of the RCN’s surface fleet for the 21st century.
An initial requirement was for a newly-designed vessel, but this has now changed. The Canadian government will instead look to select an existing warship design and then modify it to suit the RCN’s needs. There will be up to 15 ships built, but construction will not begin until after Canada’s Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) are built. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
16 Jun 16. Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, along with the Government of the Republic of Turkey and