Authors & photographers:  Ian French & Jon Astley

The Taiwan Air Force is formally known as the Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF) and was established in 1920 as the Aviation Ministry.  The RoCAF was active on mainland China under the Republic of China.  When the Nationalists lost the mainland to the Communists in 1949, the Republic of China government moved to Taiwan (formerly Formosa) which had been gained from Japan at the end of the Second World War.

The RoCAF originally received second hand aircraft from America such as the F-86, F-100, F-101 and F-104.  America often used the RoCAF to test US technology – the first successful kill scored by an air to air missile was by a RoCAF F-86.  The RoCAF provided limited transportation support to America during the Vietnam War.  In addition, the RoCAF was heavily involved in U-2 flights over mainland China.  

The RoCAF is organised in a typical US structure with squadrons, groups and wings as follows:

 

443rd Tactical Fighter Wing (1TFW) at Tainan

     1st Tactical Fighter Group with F-CK-1A/B/C/D

     3rd Tactical Fighter Group with F-CK-1A/B/C/D

     9th Tactical Fighter Group with F-CK-1A/B/C/D

499th Tactical Fighter Wing (2TFW) at Hsinchu

     41st Tactical Fighter Group with Mirage 2000Di/Ei

     42nd Tactical Fighter Group with Mirage 2000Di/Ei

     48th Tactical Fighter Group with Mirage 2000Di/Ei

427th Tactical Fighter Wing (3TFW) at Taichung

     7th Tactical Fighter Group with F-CK-1A/B/C/D

     28th Tactical Fighter Group with F-CK-1A/B/C/D

455th Tactical Fighter Wing (4TFW) at Chiayi

     21st Tactical Fighter Group with F-16A/B

     22nd Tactical Fighter Group with F-16A/B

     23rd Tactical Fighter Group with F-16A/B

     Search & Rescue Squadron with Sikorsky S70C, UH-60M & EC-225

401st Tactical Fighter Wing (5TFW) at Hualien

     12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron with RF-5E/F-5F and RF-16A/B

     17th Tactical Fighter Group with F-16A/B

     27th Tactical Fighter Group with F-16A/B

     17th Tactical Fighter Group with F-16A/B

439th Combined Wing (6T/EWW) at Pingtung North

     33 Squadron with P-3C

At Pingtung South

     10th Tactical Airlift Group

          101st Troop Carrier Squadron with C-130H

          102nd Troop Carrier Squadron with C-130H

     20th Electronic Warfare Group

          2nd Early Warning Squadron with E-2K

          6th Electronic Warfare Squadron with C-130HE

737th Tactical Fighter Wing (7TFW) at Taitung

     44th Tactical Fighter Squadron with F-5E/F

    45th Tactical Fighter Squadron with F-5E/F

    46th Tactical Fighter Squadron with F-5E/F

Sungshan Airbase Command at Taipei

     Special Transport Squadron with B1900C & Fokker 50

     Presidential Flight Section with B737 & Fokker 50

Air Force Academy at Gangshan

     Basic Training Group with T-34C

     Fighter Training Group with AT-3

     Airlift Training Group with B1900C

The S70s/UH-60Ms are detached to most bases as Search and Rescue support

Although America has been the prime source of aircraft, fluctuating political relationships have resulted in non US aircraft being procured as well as indigenous development.  The F-CK-1 Ching Kuo development came about when Taiwan’s original request for F-16s was blocked.  In addition, Dassault Mirage 2000s were also procured.

F-16s were eventually purchased though these were A and B models.  The 144 aircraft fleet is currently being upgraded to the F-16V variant in an upgrade programme worth $1.85 billion.

In addition, 71 of the A and B model Ching Kuos are being upgraded to C and D models respectively.  The upgraded aircraft are renamed Hsiung Ying.

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