Republic of China Air Force


Republic of China Air Force
Republic of China Air Force
中華民國空軍
Active 1920–present
Country  Republic of China (Taiwan)
Part of The Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of China
Insignia
Emblem Republic of China Air Force.png
Roundel Republic of China National Emblem.svg
Aircraft flown
Electronic
warfare
E-2T/C, C-130HE
Fighter F-16A/B Block 20, Mirage-2000-5Di/Ei, F-CK-1A/B/C/D, F-5E/F
Helicopter S-70C-1/1A, S-70C-6
Reconnaissance RF-5E, RF-16
Trainer AT-3B, T-34
Transport C-130H, Fokker 50, Beechcraft B-1900C, Boeing 737-800

The Republic of China Air Force (Chinese: 中華民國空軍; pinyin: Zhōnghuá Mínguó Kōngjūn) is the aviation branch of the Republic of China Armed Forces. The ROCAF's primary mission is the defense of the airspace over and around Taiwan. Priorities of the ROCAF include the development of long range reconnaissance and surveillance networks, integrating C4ISTAR systems to increase battle effectiveness, procuring counterstrike weapons, next generation fighters, and hardening airfields and other facilities to survive a surprise attack.

In May 2005, the Ministry of National Defense indicated its intention to transfer command of all defensive missile systems to the ROCAF, while future offensive missiles would be placed under a newly formed missile command. As of 2006, all medium and long range SAM units were transferred from ROC Army's Missile Command to ROCAF, while ROCAF's airbase security units were transferred to ROC Army Military Police. But it's revealed in January 2011, 5 years long problems of integrating those long range ex-ROC Army SAM units into ROCAF has forced ROCAF high command decided to return those units back to ROC Army's Missile Command.

In July 2010, former United States Air Force deputy under secretary for international affairs, Bruce Lemkin said that Taiwan's ability to defend its airspace had degraded due to its aging fighters and that the sale of new fighter aircraft to Taiwan was an urgent priority.[1] On 21 September 2011, it was announced that the US had agreed to a US$ 5 billion upgrade to the F16s.[2]

Contents

Organization

Low visibility roundels of the ROC Air Force.

Like most of the other branches of the ROC armed forces, much of the ROCAF's structure and organization is patterned after the United States Air Force. Like the USAF, the ROCAF used to have a wing → group → squadron structure. After November 2004, tactical fighter wing switch to wing → Tactical Fighter Group, with some fighter squadron stood down, with each tactical fighter group, still pretty much the same size as squadron, now commanded by a full Colonel.

  • Air Force General Headquarters (空軍總司令部)
Air Force GHQ is subordinate to the General Staff (military), the Minister of Defense (civilian), and the ROC President.
  • Internal Units: Personnel, Combat Readiness & Training, Logistics, Planning, Communications, Electronics & Information, General Affairs, Comptroller, Inspector General, Political Warfare.
  • Air Force Combatant Command (作戰司令部)
  • Weather Wing (氣象聯隊): Tamsui, New Taipei City
  • Communications, Air Traffic Control & Information Wing (通信航管資訊聯隊): Taipei City
  • Air Tactical Control Wing (戰術管制聯隊)
  • Air Defense Artillery Command (防空砲兵指揮部)
  • 4 Air Defense Missile & Artillery brigades, 951st (Taipei), 952nd (Taichung), 953rd (Kaoshung), 954th (Hualien)
  • 4 Air Defense Missile I-HAWK battalions, 621st, 622nd, 662nd, and 664th battalions, with 12 Phase III and 7 Phase I batteries.
  • 1 TK-1/2 Air Defense Missile battalion, with 6 companies/batteries.
  • 1 Patriot PAC-2+ GEM/PAC-3 Air Defense/Anti-Ballistic Missile battalion, with 3 mixed companies/batteries that are all upgrading to PAC-3 standard, with 7 more PAC 3 companies/batteries on order.
  • 1 Skyguard Short Range Airbase Air Defense battalion, with 6 companies/batteries and 24 radar sub units.
  • 2 Antelope Short Range Airbase Air Defense battalions, with unknown companies/batteries.
  • At least 2 AAA Air Defense Artillery battalions, with 40mm/L60 and 12.7mm AAA guns.
  • Air Defense Artillery Training Center (國軍防空砲兵訓練中心): Pingtung
    • Target Service Squadron
    • Education Service Support Company
    • First training company
    • Second training company
    • Third training company
  • Education, Training & Doctrine Command (教育訓練暨準則發展司令部)
  • Logistics Command (後勤司令部)
  • Combat Wings (作戰聯隊)
  • 401st Tactical Fighter Wing (401聯隊): Hualien AB flying F-16A/B
    • 17th Tactical Fighter Group "Thor"
    • 26th Tactical Fighter Group "Witch"
    • 27th Tactical Fighter Group "Black Dragon"
    • 12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron "Tiger Gazer" (operates both RF-16A/B and 6 RF-5E)
  • 427th Tactical Fighter Wing (427聯隊): Ching Chuan Kang/CCK AB flying F-CK-1A/B
    • 7th Tactical Fighter Group "Wolf"
    • Stood down: 8th Fighter Squadron "Flying Dragon"
    • 28th Tactical Fighter Group "Baby Dragon"
  • 439th Combined Wing (439聯隊): Pingtung AB flying C-130H,: E-2T/2000, and C-130HE
    • 10th Tactical Airlift Group
      • 101st Airlift Squadron
      • 102st Airlift Squadron
    • 20th Electronic Warfare Group
      • 6th Electronic Warfare Squadron
      • 2nd Early Warning Squadron
  • 443rd Tactical Fighter Wing (443聯隊): Tainan Air Base flying F-CK-1A/B
    • 1st Tactical Fighter Group
    • 3rd Tactical Fighter Group
    • 9th Tactical Fighter Group
  • 455th Tactical Fighter Wing (455聯隊): Chiayi AB flying F-16A/B and S-70C
    • Air Rescue Group
    • 21st Tactical Fighter Group
    • 22nd Tactical Fighter Group
    • 23rd Tactical Fighter Group
  • 499th Tactical Fighter Wing (499聯隊): Hsinchu AB flying Mirage 2000-5Di/Ei
    • 41st Tactical Fighter Group "Holy Shield"
    • 42nd Tactical Fighter Group "Cobra"
    • 48th Training Group "Holy Eagle"
  • 737th Fighter Training Wing (737聯隊): Taitung AB flying F-5E/F
    • 44th Fighter Squadron
    • 45th Fighter Squadron
    • 46th Fighter Squadron (believed this unit had stood down around 2004/2005, due to shortage of pilots)
  • Makung Air Base Command : Has one squadron of F-CK-1 from either CCK or Tainan AB on detachment every year from April to October
  • Air Force Base Command (基地指揮部)
  • Sungshan Base Command (松山基地指揮部)
    • VIP Transport Squadron, with Boeing 737(Air Force One), Fokker 50, and B-1900.
  • Air Force Academy (空軍官校): Kangshan AB
    • Basic Training Group, with T-34
    • Advance Jet/Fighter Training Group, with AT-3
    • Transport Training Group, with several of Sungshan air base's VIP Transport Squadron B-1900s.

Sources:[3][4]

History

Black Bat Squadron official emblem
Black Cat Squadron official emblem

Formally established in 1920 as the Aviation Ministry, the ROCAF was active during the tenure of the ROC on Mainland China. In this period, various airplanes were purchased and deployed by warlords in their struggle for power until nominal Chinese reunification in 1928. In February 1932, US Reserve Lt. Robert McCawley Short, who was transporting armed Chinese aircraft, shot down an IJN aircraft on February 19, 1932 and downed another on February 22 before he was killed (he was posthumously raised to the rank of Colonel in the Chinese Air Service).

During the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), the ROCAF participated in attacks on Japanese warships on the eastern front and along the Yangtze river including support for the Battle of Shanghai in 1937. The Chinese frontline fighter aircraft initially were mainly the Curtiss Hawk II and III and the Boeing P-26 model 281, and engaged Japanese fighters in many major air battles beginning on August 14, 1937, when Imperial Japanese Navy warplanes raided Chienchiao airbase; "814" has thus become known as "Air Force Day". Chinese Boeing P-26/281 fighters engaged Japanese Mitsubishi A5M fighters in what is among the world's first aerial dogfighting between all-metal monoplane fighter aircraft. A unique mission in April 1938 saw two Chinese B-10 bombers fly a mission over Japan, but dropping only propaganda leaflets over the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Saga. It was a war of attrition for the Chinese pilots, as many of their most experienced ace fighter pilots, such as Lieutenant Liu Tsui-Kang and Colonel Kao Chih-Hang were lost early in the war.

In the latter-half of the Sino-Japanese War, part of World War II, the ROCAF was augmented by a volunteer group of American pilots (the Flying Tigers) in 1941.[5] Throughout the war, the ROCAF was involved in attacks on Japanese air and ground forces in the Chinese theatre.

ROCAF General HQ was established in June 1946. From 1946 to 1948, during the Chinese Civil War, the ROCAF participated in combat against the People's Liberation Army engaging in air to air combat on at least eleven occasions in the areas surrounding the Taiwan Strait. The ROCAF reportedly enjoyed a 31:1 kill ratio against the PLA. GHQ was evacuated to Taiwan along with the rest of the ROC Government in April 1949 following the Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War. The ROCAF assisted in halting the PLA advance at the Battle of Kuningtou on Kinmen the same year.

The ROCAF regularly patrolled the Taiwan Straits and fought many engagements with its Communist counterpart (the PLAAF). The ROCAF received second hand equipment from the US at that time, such as the F-86 Sabrejets, F-100 and F-104.

Retired ROCAF aircraft on permanent display at the ROC airforce academy

During the Cold War, the ROCAF was involved in combat air patrols over the Taiwan Strait and engaged the PLAAF and PLAN-AF on several occasions. The ROCAF was also the testbed of American technology at this time. The first successful kill scored by an air-to-air missile was accomplished by an ROCAF F-86 Sabrejet with then experimental AIM-9 Sidewinder. ROCAF pilots also flew U-2 recon overflights of the PRC during this time with assistance from the USAF. Known as the Black Cat Squadron they flew total of 220 mission, with 102 missions over mainland China, losing 5 planes. All five were shot down by SA-2 surface-to-air missiles, the same type of surface-to-air missile that shot down Gary Powers over the USSR in 1960. The 34th "Black Bat Squadron" flew low level mission into China as part of its mapping PRC growing air defense networks, conducting ESM and ECM missions, inserting agents behind enemy line, and air drop resupply missions.

Equipment and Procurement

The ROCAF's inventory includes over 400 combat aircraft, the mainstay being the F-16 and F-CK-1 Ching-kuo, with the Mirage 2000s being its most formidable air-defence fighter. The older F-5s are gradually being phased out.

The development of the IDF (Indigenous Defense Fighter) was started in 1984 due to the United States refusing to sell the F-16 to the ROCAF. The IDF's maiden flight was made in 1989, and the plane entered service in 1994. The ROCAF was subsequently able to obtain the F-16 from the US and Mirage 2000-5 from France.

The ROCAF's main supplier of equipment is the United States, which also assists in the training of some ROCAF pilots at Luke AFB in Arizona.

In January 2006, the Air Force announced it wanted to buy planes with VSTOL capability, especially the US F-35. It also expressed an interest in upgrading its current F-16s and Mirages, possibly even purchasing second-hand F-15s. However, the US rejected the sale of F-35s or F-15s. There were no media reports as to how France responded. A Pentagon report has said that given that the PRC would probably seek to destroy Taiwan's airfields in the first stages of any attack, the F-35B STOVL fighter would be vital for Taiwan's defense.[6]

In mid 2006, the Air Force announced plans to buy 66 F-16 C/D Block 52 aircraft from the US for $3.1 billion USD.[7] On October 2, 2006, the US said that it would not allow the purchase of the 66 F-16s at that time. According to sources cited by National Defense Minister Lee Jye, the US stance was that until a long-stalled arms purchase package consisting of six Patriot Missile Batteries, 12 P-3C Orion anti-submarine aircraft and 8 conventional submarines cleared the legislature, it did not see the ROC as having a consistent military procurement plan and temporarily blocked the sale.[8]

Boeing 737-800 Presidential Jet at Songshan Airport

The Taiwanese Legislative Yuan approved the 2007 defence budget, which included funds for part of the arms purchases on June 16, 2007.

On February 28, 2007, the US Defense Department approved an order made by the ROC for 218 AIM-120C-7 AMRAAM missiles, as well as 235 AGM-65G2 Maverick missiles, associated launchers and other equipment. The total value of this order was revealed to be $421 million USD.[9]

In June 2007, the Legislative Yuan approved the upgrade of the existing PAC-2 batteries to PAC-3 standard. In November, the Pentagon notified the US Congress of the Patriot upgrade order.[10]

On August 10, 2007, a shipment of Harpoon anti-ship missiles was also authorised by the US Defense Department, valued at an estimated $125 million. Included in the package were 60 AGM-84L Block II missiles and 50 upgrade kits to bring the ROCAF's existing Harpoons up to Block II, Mark L standard.[11]

On October 3, 2008, arms notifications were sent to Congress concerning, amongst other things, the sale of 330 PAC III missiles, 4 missile batteries, radar sets, ground stations and other equipment valued up to $3.1 billion USD, the upgrade of 4 E-2T aircraft to the Hawkeye 2000 standard and $334 million USD worth of spare parts for the ROCAF's F-16s, IDFs, F-5E/Fs and C-130s.[12]

On January 28, 2010, ROCAF received first batch of new TC-2(V) BVR missiles ordered from CSIST. Believed to have new radar seeker and improved performance from the original missile entered service over 10 years ago.[13]

On January 29, 2010, US government announced 5 notifications to US Congress for arms sales to Taiwan. Overall total 6.392 Billion USD, ROC Air Force will receive 3 PAC-3 batteries with 26 launchers and 114 PAC-3 missiles for 2.81 Billion.[14]

On February 3, 2010, it was announced at Singapore Airshow that ROCAF had signed contract for 3 EC-225 SAR(Search-And-Rescue) helicopters that was award to Eurocopter back in December 2009 for 111 million USD, with option for 17 more EC-225 helicopter. Expect delivery of 3 EC-225 by October 2011.[15][16]

On August 15, 2011, it was reported that the US had once again deferred Taiwan's request to purchase 66 new F-16C/Ds but had offered a retrofit package for Taiwan's older F-16A/B's.[17] A $5.3 billion upgrade package for ROCAF's existing F-16A/B fighters was announced on 21 September 2011.[18] The upgrade budget was to be spread over 12 years, though the Ministry of Defense indicated that it would try to reduce the period.[19]

On August 31, 2010, it was announced for next year's defense budget, ROCAF's "Medium Transport aircraft" plan to replace 12 B-1900 VIP/transport training aircraft, believed to be 6-8+ Lockheed C-27J, has been put on hold and might be axed, due to lack of budget. But will allocates 20+ million US dollars over next 4 years for quick runway repair.[20] Other items mentioned including increases runways from 3 to 6 at Eastern Taiwan's 3 airbases, moving 2 I-HAWK batteries to Eastern Taiwan to protect those airbases, which will double to 4 batteries, and others.[21]

On November 8, 2011, second pair of E-2T Hawkeye AEW(s/n 2501 and 2502) were loaded on ship and sent to US for upgrade to E-2C 2000. The first pair of E-2T (s/n 2503 and 2504) were sent to US in June 2010 and will return to Taiwan by end of the year.[22]

Aircraft Inventory

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service[4][23] Notes
Fighter Aircraft
Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcon  United States Multirole Fighter F-16 A/B Block 20 145 120 F-16A and 30 F-16B received. About 8-10 F-16A/B Block 20 is at Luke AFB, USA, for advance training. 8 F-16A/B are assigned to 12th TRS as recon aircraft with yet unknown recon pod.
Dassault Mirage 2000-5  France Multirole Fighter Mirage 2000-5EI/DI 56 48 Mirage 2000Ei and 12 Mirage 2000Di received
AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-kuo  Republic of China (Taiwan) Multirole Fighter F-CK-1A/B 126 131 F-CK-1 IDF received. At least 1 wing expected start the upgrade to F-CK-1C/D standard by end of 2008 (First batch F-CK-1 A/B MLU delivered at 2011/06/30)
Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II  United States Fighter F-5E/F 32[24]/32[25] 28 F-5E/F transferred from US from 1973 to May 1975, and 308 F-5E/F built locally under license by AIDC from 1973 to 1986. 32 F-5E/RF-5E, 33 F-5F two seaters.[24] Besides the limited number of F-5E/F in service, another ~90 to 100 in reserve status.
Early Warning Aircraft
Grumman E-2 Hawkeye  United States Airborne Early Warning E-2T
E-2C Hawkeye 2000
4
2
4 E-2T authorized upgraded to Hawkeye 2000 standard on 10/2008. 2 E-2T(s/n 2503 and 2504) sent to US on June 23, 2010 for the planned upgrade, should return to Taiwan service by end of 2011.[26]2nd pair(s/n 2501 and 2502) were sent on November 8, 2011.[27] #2503 crashed landed during touch-and-go practice without landing gears deployed on 03/20/97. Damages were very extensive that another E-2C body was used to rebuilt by Singapore Aerospace, but still sporting #2503's b/n.
Reconnaissance Aircraft
Northrop RF-5E Tigergazer  United States Reconnaissance RF-5E 5 7 low airframe hours F-5E sent to Singapore Aerospace and converted to RF-5E Tigergazer.
Lockheed RF-16 Fighting Falcon  United States Multirole Fighter/Reconnaissance F-16 A/B Block 20 8 8 F-16A/B are assigned to 12th TRS as recon aircraft with yet unknown recon pod.
Trainer Aircraft
AIDC AT-3 Tzu Chung  Republic of China (Taiwan) Advance Trainer AT-3A/B 36/17 Also 2 A-3 attack version were built, 901 and 902, retired and on display.
Beechcraft T-34 Mentor  United States Basic Trainer US-1A 36
Transport Aircraft
Lockheed C-130 Hercules  United States Tactical Transport
ELINT
C-130H
C-130HE
19
1
20 received. #1310 lost on 10-10-1997. Last 8 C-130H received in 1990s believed to be C-130H-30 version.

Modified in Taiwan[28]
Beechcraft 1900C  United States VIP Transport B-1900C 11 12 received. 2 are use for airbase radar calibration. Several B-1900 also fly down to Kangshan AB daily for Air Force Academy transport training needs.
Fokker F50  Netherlands VIP Transport F50 3
Boeing 737  United States VIP Transport B737-800 1 Air Force One
Helicopters
Sikorsky S-70C Blue Hawk  United States Search and Rescue S-70C-1/1A/6 17 10 S-70C-1, 3 S-70C1A, 4 S-70C-6
Eurocopter EC-225 Super Puma  European Union Search and Rescue EC-225 0+3+17 3 ordered on Feb 2010, with option for 17 more. Delivery Oct 2011

Missile inventory

Missile Origin Type Versions In service Notes
Air-to-air missiles
AIM-120 AMRAAM  United States Medium-range Active Radar AIM-120C-5
AIM-120C-7
120
218
200 authorized for sales by US back in 2000, but only 120 ordered.

Ordered. For F-16 fleet
AIM-7 Sparrow  United States Medium-range Semi-Active Radar AIM-7M 605 600 in 1992 F-16 deal, 5 in 2006 for Shootex in Luke AFB. For F-16 Fleet
MBDA MICA  France Medium-range Active Radar 960 For Mirage 2000-5 fleet
Sky Sword II  Republic of China (Taiwan) Medium-range Active Radar TC-2 250+ For IDF fleet. ROCAF received new batch of new model of TC-2, ordered from CSIST, number unknown.[29]
AIM-9 Sidewinder  United States Short-range IR Guided AIM-9B
AIM-9J/N
AIM-9M
AIM-9M-2
570
2066
900
192
AIM-9B: 350 in 1955, 220 in 1959.(Believe all AIM-9B missiles were rebuilt to AIM-9E, then rebuilt again to AIM-9J/N (current status unknown)
AIM-9J/N: 1850 in 1974, 216 in 1983.(At least 1314 AIM-9J/N missiles were rebuilt/upgraded to AIM-9P4 standard.[30][31])For IDF, F-5E/F and AT-3 fleet.
AIM-9M: 900 in 1997. For F-16 Fleet
AIM-9M-2: 182 in 2003, 10 in 2006. Total 3728 AIM-9 missiles received.[32]
Magic II  France Short-range IR Guided R550 480 For Mirage 2000-5 fleet.
Sky Sword I  Republic of China (Taiwan) Short-range IR Guided TC-1 300 For IDF Fleet.
Air-to-ground missiles
AGM-65 Maverick  United States Air-to-ground AGM-65B
AGM-65G
AGM-65G2
500
40
234
For F-5E/F and F-16 fleet.

For F-16 fleet.

Ordered. For F-16 fleet.
Anti-ship missiles
AGM-84 Harpoon  United States Anti-ship AGM-84L 110 60 + 50 upgrade kits ordered, for F-16 fleet.
AGM-84 Harpoon  United States Anti-ship AGM-84G 8 58 ordered, 50 later upgraded to AGM-84L version[33]

Air Defence Systems

Platform Origin Type In service Notes
PAC-2 batteries with 200 GEM missiles  United States SAM 3 Upgrading to PAC-3 batteries. 1 battery is done and sent back to Taiwan, 2nd battery had just authorized to send to US for upgrade and refurbish.
PAC-3 batteries with 444 PAC-3 missiles  United States SAM 7 Ordered
Sky Bow I/Sky Bow II/Sky Bow III batteries  Republic of China (Taiwan) SAM 6 Sky Bow I missiles phased out by 2015;
Sky Bow III missiles to be introduced
MIM-23 HAWK batteries  United States SAM 19 With 932 rounds of missiles. Expect to replace by 12 Sky Bow II batteries after in 2010[33] Currently 12 Phase III and 7 Phase I batteries.
Skyguard radar system with RIM-7M Sparrow SAM  Switzerland SAM with OTO twin 35mm AAA 24 6 batteries, each with 4 radars, introduced into service from 1979 to 1981, 35mm AAA were GDF-003 version, with 500 RIM-7M missiles and launchers entered service in 1991. 35mm AAA were upgraded in 2009 to GDF-006 version to fire AHEAD rounds. Airbase defense[33]
Antelope System with TC-1 AAM  Republic of China (Taiwan) SAM with Bofors 40mm/L70 AAA 6 6 batteries, airbase defense

See also

References

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  33. ^ a b c "armstrade.sipri.org". armstrade.sipri.org. http://armstrade.sipri.org/armstrade/page/trade_register.php. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 

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