Military launches naming contest for its new jets

Taipei, Taiwan's military is launching a contest to come up with a new name for its advanced military supersonic jet trainer aircraft currently under development.

The Taichung-based Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC) is scheduled to deliver 66 advanced trainer aircraft to the government by 2026 to replace the Air Force's aging AT3 trainers and F5 fighters, according to the Ministry of National Defense (MND).

The government-funded AIDC previously named the new jets "Blue Magpie," after the birds that are endemic to Taiwan.

But when asked at a press conference on Tuesday to announce the contest why the military was ditching the name, Maj. Gen. Tang Hung-an (???), the head of the Air Force Command's Planning Division, sidestepped the question.

He would only say that the military wanted to allow public participation in the naming process.

Only ROC citizens are allowed to take part in the contest, and the names they submit must consist of two Chinese characters and be accompanied by an explanation of no more than 100 words, according to Tang.

The winner of the contest will be awarded a NT$50,000 cash prize, while the runner-up and third-place finisher will win NT$30,000 and NT$20,000, respectively, Tang said.

On June 1, AIDC began assembly of the first of the 66 advanced jet trainers. Ground testing of the aircraft is scheduled for September 2019, and the first test flight is to take place in June 2020, according to the MND.

Tang said the project is going smoothly and remains on schedule.

AIDC so far has completed around 15 percent of its scheduled plan, he said. The company has completed more than 10,000 blueprints of the jet and signed 122 contracts with subcontractors to build some of the systems being used inside the plane, he added.

The modernization and production of indigenous aircraft and submarines has been high on the agenda of President Tsai Ing-wen's (???) administration since she came to power in May 2016.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel