The AIDC AT-3 "Tzu Chung" (pinyin: Zìqiáng) ("Self Reliance") is an advanced jet trainer operated by the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF). A total of sixty-two aircraft were manufactured by the Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation of the Republic of China in collaboration with US aircraft manufacturer Northrop between 1984 and 1990. Two A-3 single-seat attack version were also built.

Class Aircraft
Type Trainer
Manufacturer Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation
Production Period 1984 - 1990
Origin Taiwan
Country Name Origin Year
Taiwan 1980
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
China 1984 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation 1984 1990 63 View

Design of the advanced jet trainer began in 1975 with a conventional low-wing configuration with a tricycle undercarriage, tandem seat cockpit, and twin turbofans mounted in nacelles on either side of the fuselage. After the design was approved in 1978, two prototypes were produced. The first aircraft rolled out on July 17, 1980 and made its maiden flight on 16 September 1980. Further evaluation resulted in a contract for 60 AT-3As for the ROCAF.

The AT-3 is a low-wing monoplane with a straight wing and a conventional slab tailplane. The AT-3 has five weapon mounts (one centerline, two inboard underwing, two outboard underwing) and wingtip launch rails. There are two Zero-zero Martin-Baker 10 ejection seats in the tandem dual-control cockpit of production models. The rear seat (the Instructor position) is elevated 30 cm to allow better over-the-nose visibility. There's a rarely used small bomb bay feature in the aircraft, now mostly holding an auxiliary fuel tank. AT-3 has two Honeywell/Garrett TFE731-2-2L non-afterburning turbofan engines, producing a total thrust of 3178 kg (31.1 kN; 7000 lb). It is able to carry various size iron bombs, rocket pods, AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles and locally produced TC-1 IR Air-to-air missiles.

The first AT-3A operator is the Flight Training Command in ROCAF Academy. In 1988 the Thunder Tiger demonstration team replaced its F-5E aircraft with AT-3s. On September 9, 1989 the famous Cold War 35th Combat Squadron (Night Attack) replaced its T-33 Shooting Star trainers with AT-3s painted in SE Asia jungle colors. The AT-3s delivered to the 35th Combat Squadron(Night Attack) were equipped with semi-recessed twin 12.7 mm machine guns in the bomb bay. The 35th Squadron later relocated to ROCAF Academy for logistic reasons, and later stood down in 1999 with its aircraft transferred to the Flight Training Command.

The aircraft operates both as an advanced trainer and for weapons training, and all AT-3 in service with ROCAF are now painted in the Thunder Tiger's Blue, White and Red colors.

The AT-3 went through a mid-life update (MLU) from 2001 to 2006, which will allow the aircraft to operate beyond 2016.

The XA-3 "Lui Meng" ("Thunder") single-seat attack version never progressed beyond the prototype stage. Two such aircraft were built, numbered 901 and 902. These aircraft are now retired and on display. AT-3B #825 is on loan to AIDC. These three aircraft were able to carry a shortened version of the HF-2 air-launched Anti-ship missile, and were combat-ready with this version of missile during the 1995/1996 Third Taiwan Strait Crisis. The armed two-seat AT-3B upgrade did enter service with the ROCAF.

Role Trainer
National origin Republic of China
Manufacturer Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation
First flight 16 September 1980
Introduction 1984-
Status Active
Primary user Republic of China Air Force
Produced 1984-1990
Number built 63

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 12.9m (including probe) (42ft 4in (including probe))
  • Wingspan: 10.46m (34ft 3.75in)
  • Height: 4.36m (14ft 3.75in)
  • Wing area: 21.93m^2 (236.05ft^2)
  • Empty weight: 3855kg (8500 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 7940kg (17,505 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Garrett AiResearch TFE731-2 turbofans, 15.6 kN (3,500 lbf) each


  • Maximum speed: 904 km/h (at 11,000m) (562 mph (at 36,090ft))
  • Range: 2280 km (nm, 1417 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 14,650 m (48,065 ft)


  • Two wingtip pylons for Air-to-air missiles and 5 wing hardpoints with provision up to 2720kg (5998lb) of stores
  • Guns: 2x .50 cal machine guns in ventral pack, 20 mm gun pods
  • Bombs: Mk 82 500 lb bombs, Mk84 2000 lb bombs, Mk20 cluster bombs
  • Rockets: 5 in and 2.75 in rocket pods
  • Missiles: Sky Sword I and AIM-9P4 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, HF-2 Mk 2 anti-ship missile.

End notes