The Brazilian air force is looking to purchase some of Switzerland's 34 surplus Northrop F-5E Tiger fighters. Brazil is negotiating to acquire additional F-5s to bolster its fleet, which is being upgraded by Embraer and Elbit to F-5BRs.

The Swiss air force says it has nine single-seat F-5Es set for delivery, with another 25 to be phased out shortly. Brazil needs up to 12 additional aircraft to add to the 48 already contracted for upgrade - but it wants two-seat F-5Fs.

To make up the shortfall, Brazil is understood to be looking at the TF-5 conversion being proposed by Tiger Century Aircraft, supported by Northrop Grumman, after rejecting a Boeing offer of Saudi Arabian F-5s. The programme rebuilds single-seat F-5s to the two-seat configuration. The F-5F was produced in limited numbers, and Saudi Arabia is demanding that customers buy at least two F-5Es for every two-seater acquired.

Tiger Century has a deal to remarket over 100 Taiwanese F-5Es for possible conversion. Brazil, however, is believed to have a political and technical preference for the newer Swiss fighters, which have clocked up 1,800-2,400h, and are in very good condition.

Switzerland wants an inter-governmental sale-or-lease deal, rather than go via a third party. The aircraft are also interesting others including the Philippines, which still needs to replaceF-5A/Bs, and the US Navy's requirement for up to 26 aircraft for its adversary squadrons. Switzerland wants to phase out its 100-plusF-5E/Fs by 2010, as it acquires additional Boeing F/A-18s or a second new fighter type.

Thailand is also believed to be looking for additional Tigers, including RF-5E reconnaissance aircraft, with interest currently focused on Saudi Arabia aircraft.

Source: Flight International