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Warplanes: Improved IDF Pointed At China
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July 10, 2011: Taiwan rolled out the first of its upgraded IDF (F-CK) jet fighters. The improvements include better electronics, largely from the United States and the ability to carry four, instead of two, radar guided air-to-air missiles. The upgrades also include the ability to use smart bombs. It will cost about $8.3 million for each IDF  upgrade. The 12 ton IDF is sort of a mini-F-16 that can benefit greatly from upgrades like this.

The U.S. only agreed to provide the new equipment last year, after eight months of stalling (in the hopes of improving relations with China). As a result of this deal, 71 of 130 IDF (Indigenous Defense Fighter) jets will be upgraded. This will make these 1990s era IDFs more of a match for China's Su-27s and Su-30s. Taiwan needs all the help it can get at the moment.

Last year, the Taiwanese admitted that their older fighters (F-5s, IDFs and Mirage 2000s) were not likely to do well against the newer Chinese Su-30s and Su-27s. Taiwan ran combat simulations and found that they would lose 2.8 Mirage 2000s and 1.7 IDFs (equipped with the older radar) for every Su-30 shot down. The newer models of the F-16 are considered a match for the Su-30, and Taiwan is trying to get more of them. China is trying to persuade the United States not to provide them.

The 60 elderly Taiwanese F-5s are no competition at all for the Su-30s, and were only considered useful against Chinese bombers or their MiG-21 clone (the F-7). The locally made IDF is, and this is no secret, a second rate F-16 replacement. The 56 French Mirage 2000-5 are expensive, and manpower intensive, to maintain.

The Taiwan Air Force is considering retiring the older, more difficult to maintain, aircraft, and put more resources into the more recent models. Taiwan wants to upgrade its 146 F-16A Block 20 fighters, which are some of the oldest F-16s still in service. Taiwan has on order 66 F-16 block 50/52 fighters, a sale which has been blocked by local politics, and Chinese protests, for years. But now, these orders are very likely to be filled, maybe.

 

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YelliChink       7/10/2011 11:58:44 AM
The F-16C/D Blk 50/52 is currently blocked by Obama administration. The plan to upgrade existing F-16A Blk 20 is also blocked by Obama administration.
 
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Hamilcar21       7/10/2011 12:04:41 PM

This is a surprise, why?

H. 

 
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YelliChink       7/10/2011 12:31:50 PM

This is a surprise, why?


H. 



Not a surprise, if you consider that USAF academy just made decision to buy trainers from Cirrus Aicraft, which is currently owned by commies of China.
Nevertheless, the aritcle put the blame of F-16C/D purchase on Taiwan politics, which is no longer the case since around 2007. As for now, the blame is purely on the US part, and it has more to do than mere "Chinese protest."
 
 
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phrank       7/10/2011 4:01:52 PM
We should be selling Taiwan anything they need to defend themselves. They are  a democracy and should have our support, that they don't says more about us than them. If we don't help them defend them selves them one day we shall have to do it.
 
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Hamilcar21    I was being sarcastic, YC.    7/10/2011 6:42:04 PM



This is a surprise, why?



H. 




Not a surprise, if you consider that USAF academy just made decision to buy trainers from Cirrus Aicraft, which is currently owned by commies of China.
Nevertheless, the aritcle put the blame of F-16C/D purchase on Taiwan politics, which is no longer the case since around 2007. As for now, the blame is purely on the US part, and it has more to do than mere "Chinese protest."
 

You already know what I thought about Fratboy, and what I think of the Chicago Thug.

H.

 
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Skylark       7/12/2011 2:12:19 AM
Improving the avionics is an important step toward making the IDF competitive, but saying that it is now more than a match for the Su-27 and 30 is a stretch.  The weakness of the F-CK 1 is, and has always been the weak power-plants which are just good enough to push the IDF supersonic, but not much else, being deficient in both climb and acceleration.  Garrett did offer a better plant when the IDF was being developed, but Taiwan balked at the price tag, so they are stuck with a turbofan that is really not much better than a hopped-up business jet engine.  I have read that some improvements have been made in the engines, but nothing so radical that would put it in the same class as the Su-30, but there are solutions out there.
 
The best solution IMO is to dump the Garretts in favor of the GE F-404 or F-414, which are trim, lightweight and easy to maintain, offering better power-for-weight ratios than the IDF's existing plants.  The current frame could handle one F-404, with some frame stretching, creating an aircraft that will have about the same, or slightly better performance in comparison to what they have now with two plants, plus room for additional fuel and weapons.  Put the F-414 in its place, and you get better performance, hands down.  Ideally, the F-CK-1 should be up-sized by about a third, with two F-404's installed, which should give the IDF radically better speed, climb and acceleration, plus allowing more and better better avionics, fuel capacity, warload and some air-frame strengthening which would be an improvement as well.  An upsized IDF could even accommodate a second crewman, a useful addition if you wanted to build a dedicated ground attack version.  An up-sized F-CK-1 could be a formidable weapon, even with an engine as old as the F-404, and getting it could be as easy as a license to build deal, or a pipeline from a neutral licensed builder, like the Aero Volvo, who build the 404-clone, the RM12.  The 404 is an older engine, dating back to the 80's, so a license deal is not out of the realm of possibility from a political perspective, so it's worth a try at least, if Taiwan wants to keep competitive with China down the road.
 
The IDF is a good basic fighter, with excellent growth potential, but the realities that made it adequate when it was built have changed radically, now that China can afford first-line aircraft to oppose it.  Unfortunately, politics makes it doubtful that Taiwan will acquire better F-16s, unless they can themselves rebuild second-hand airframes and engines without assistance from the U.S., so the best route is likely to continue to develop indigenous fighters.  Right now, many countries are crying out for a high-performance, low-cost fighter to re-equip their aging inventories without breaking their budgets, so if Taiwan can just iron out a few kinks in their existing IDF design, nations all around China might just beat a path to Taiwan's showroom doors.
 
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Heorot       7/12/2011 3:07:46 AM
Putting a bigger, more powerful engine in an airframe doesn't always give you the result you want, as the RAF found when the F4 was purchased. Putting Spey's in seemed good idea but resulted in the slowest and heaviest production Phantoms ever made.
 
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YelliChink       7/12/2011 10:31:09 AM

 
The best solution IMO is to dump the Garretts in favor of the GE F-404 or F-414, which are trim, lightweight and easy to maintain, offering better power-for-weight ratios than the IDF's existing plants. 
 
Allied Signal => Garret => Honeywell

The Honeywell F125 is about right for IDF. The only problem is lack of investment to develop F125X and F125XX model proposed. Otherwise, two F125 engines provide 18.5klb afterburner thrust, albeit a bit heavier than F404, which gives around 17.7klb. Besides, F125 has centrifugal compressor and two are saver than one. 
 
Besides, had AIDC been given F404, they will probably bulid new fighters with two instead of one. That's why Reagan admin hooked AIDC with Allied Signal to begin with. All in all, it's not a bad investment, as F124 and F125 engines are still selling.
 
 
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phrank       7/12/2011 1:46:44 PM
They need to bite the bullet and design a new plane and for that matter a sub. They can design and build microchips I am sure they can a plane. Maybe even get some help quietly from US. I read that the US thinks that they are better off with more missiles to attack with than planes because of their bases being able to be hit by Chinese missiles. Can't that same thing be said about most US bases in the area. I would hope that they have a plan for hiding their planes in times of tension as they know what is across from them. IDF could be made into a standoff missile launcher, load it up with long range missiles. But I do think that as a democracy we need to support them and if congress would live up to the bill they passed in 79 we would.
 
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YelliChink       7/12/2011 4:55:32 PM

IDF could be made into a standoff missile launcher, load it up with long range missiles.

That is actually the whole reason behind IDF upgrade. The mission computer is completely new, and so is the weapons interface which will integrate TC-2A and Ten-Thousand-Sword stand-off missile.
 
 
Not sure about air-launched HF2, though.
 
For a fighter the size of Gripen, it is still too small for that type of missions. It is designed as point-defense fighter, and sacrificed range for agility. Contrary to what some believe, IDF actually has excellent turn, climb and acceleration. It is not designed for supercruise and that is probably quite pointless.
 
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