Taiwan has tested first two indigenously built “Brave Eagle” jet trainers which will replace US-built F-5s later this year.

Hu Kai-hung, a former Air Force pilot and chairman of Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC), himself took part in the test exercise, according to daily Taiwan News.

The planes are the first two out of 66 which are planned to enter service by end of 2026.

Internal company tests have been completed, so now it is up to the Air Force to put the jets through their paces before taking delivery by the end of the year, the daily said.

The tests showed that AIDC is serious about the indigenous development of weapons systems, including jet trainers and other aircraft, Hu said.

The test flight was held on Tuesday for at least 40 minutes.

China considers Taiwan a breakaway province, while Taipei insists on its independence since 1949 and has diplomatic relations with 16 countries and regions. With the US expressing open support to Taiwan and selling high-tech weaponry to Taipei, China has increased its military operations in the region.

A Taiwanese pilot died last October when the F-5E Tiger jet he was flying crashed into the ocean shortly after taking off from Chihang Air Force Base. The island nation has been using the US jets for the past 35 years.

Meanwhile, the Taiwan Coast Guard held a one-day live-fire artillery drill on Monday, which will be repeated next Tuesday.

The aim of the military exercises on the Dongsha Island is to simulate various defensive scenarios and strengthen combat readiness, the Taiwanese Coast Guard said.

Dongsha or Pratas Island is located in the northern part of the disputed South China Sea.

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