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Taiwan's Brave Eagle advanced trainer steadily replacing F-5 fleet

Reconnaissance F-5s will remain in service until Air Force receives new weapons systems

Taiwan's Air Force pilots have started training on the Brave Eagle jets. 

Taiwan's Air Force pilots have started training on the Brave Eagle jets.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s domestically developed Brave Eagle advanced trainer aircraft is set to replace the Air Force’s aging AT-3 and F-5 training aircraft, a military official said on Saturday (Nov. 4)

The F-5s will be retired from combat duty by the end of this year, though the RF-5 reconnaissance variants will be retained for surveillance missions, working in conjunction with F-16Vs, the official said. The complete retirement of RF-5 reconnaissance aircraft will only occur after Taiwan receives its MS-110 recce pod systems and MQ-9B drones, and when domestically produced unmanned aircraft enter service for combat missions, they said.

The retired F-5s may be transferred to training units or put on display, or they could be used as decoy aircraft near airport runways, they added.

The Brave Eagle prototype was completed in September 2019 by Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) and conducted its maiden flight in June 2020. Since then, AIDC has been steadily delivering Brave Eagles to the Air Force.

Additionally, flight training has been streamlined to a three-stage program involving two aircraft (T-34 and Brave Eagle) instead of the previous three aircraft (T-34, AT-3, and F-5). This change is expected to facilitate future combat training missions with advanced fighter aircraft like the F-16V, CNA reported.

Initial training for operating the MQ-9B is expected to commence in 2024, while delivery of the drones will begin in 2025.