Authored By Dan Alex (Updated: 3/25/2016):
The F-CK-1 was born out of an indigenous initiative when sales of American General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcons and Northrop F-20 Tigersharks were blocked by the US government (then attempting to improve their relations with Asian powerhouse China, Taiwan's natural enemy). Ironically, it was the Northrop F-20 - an improved form of the F-5 Tiger - that was specifically developed to help supplement the existing stable of Taiwanese fighters including the F-5. With little option, Taiwanese aerospace industry began research into a in-house solution intended to break the reliance on Western parties for future military needs. The program became the "Indigenous Defence Fighter" (IDF) which netted a first flight, of what would become the F-CK-1 "Ching-Kuo", on May 28th, 1989. Production of the aircraft was handled by Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) with initial deliveries beginning in 1994. Despite an initial requirement for several hundred aircraft, only 130 of the type would be produced into 1999.
For the island nation, the F-CK-1 endeavor was a very far-reaching program involving all manner of participants. Design work began in May of 1982 and, despite the US government's stance against direct sales of fighters to Taiwan, American companies were still free to offer the much-needed technical assistance required in bringing an advanced airframe online - from avionics software to aerodynamic challenges and armaments integration to powerplant development. A primary US defense contractor became General Dynamics which was already the brand label of the heralded F-16. As such, the F-16 influence was clear in the finalized F-CK-1 form particularly in the use of blended wing root/fuselage design concept, general wing shaping (complete with wingtip launchers) and the use of a single vertical tail fin.
AlliedSignal (now Honeywell) assisted the International Turbofan Engine Company (ITEC) in designing and developing a suitable powerplant for the new fighter. As in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the F-CK-1 featured a cockpit with HUD (Head-Up Display) and HOTAS (Hands-On Throttle and Stick) controls. The radar system (housed in the nosecone) was an evolved version of the APG-67 series that was to be fielded in the F-20 Tigershark (while also being related to the APG-66 utilized in the F-16). The X-band pulse Doppler system (designated as the "Golden Dragon 53" or "GD-53") allowed for accurate tracking and engagement of targets oversea and overland with a range of 35 miles, optimized for use with the locally-developed "Skysword I" and "Skysword II" missiles - each (respectively) mimicking the American AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range and AIM-7 Sparrow medium-range air-to-air missiles. The missiles were developed by the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST).