Taipei, Aug 31 (IANS) Taiwan will manufacture 66 trainer planes by 2026, develop new engines and key components of state-of-the-art fighter aircraft, the defence ministry announced on Friday.
The island’s military has commissioned the Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation to develop military aircraft as part of its five-year plan to bolster its capabilities, aimed at countering China’s maneuvers in the region, Efe reported.
The company has already begun assembling the first of the 66 airplanes and is planning to conduct ground tests in September 2019 and the first flight in June 2020, the ministry said in a statement.
The new aircraft will replace the existing AT-3 aircraft and the American F5-E and F5-F planes.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen launched a programme to modernize the island’s military, which includes an increase in defence spending to 3 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, acquiring advanced equipment from the United States and manufacturing submarines, aircraft, ships and missiles in Taiwan.
Through the programme, Taiwan is hoping to maintain a deterrent defensive force against China, which is engaged in a rapid modernization of its military and refuses to renounce the use of force to retain control of the island.