Taiwan's Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) aims to fly its prototype upgraded Northrop F-5E Tiger in July, in anticipation of a 40-aircraft upgrade contract from the Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF).
Albert Wu, deputy director of AIDC's military aircraft division, says the RoCAF is, for now, financing only the development aircraft for the Tiger 2000 upgrade programme. "There are not yet any guarantees of a further order," says Wu, who adds that the company does expect one.
Wu says AIDC has completed parts fabrication for the prototype, and is now integrating new software into the aircraft. After the maiden flight in July, flight testing will last about two months. He says the RoCAF has asked AIDC to sell 62 of its fleet of about 100 RF/F-5E/F Tigers, which could bring additional work to return stored aircraft to airworthy condition. Wu says potential customers include the Philippines, which is understood to be interested in up to 40 F-5s, and Brazil, which could take about eight aircraft. He claims there are other unnamed potential South American customers.
AIDC has also teamed with Malaysian maintenance, repair and overhaul specialist Airod to propose a similar upgrade to the Royal Malaysian Air Force (TUDM). The TUDM has about 16 F-5E/Fs which could be upgraded.
According to Wu, the two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding, whereby Airod would carry out structural upgrades, while AIDC would focus on avionics work. The Tiger 2000 upgrade includes the introduction of hands on throttle and stick controls, beyond-visual-range missile capabilities, integrated satellite/inertial navigation and a multi-mode pulse Doppler radar.
Source: Flight International