Sabca expects to complete flight-testing of two upgraded Indonesian air force Northrop Grumman F-5E prototypes by the end of the year and return them to Asia by mid-February 1998.

The Belgian company has modified a single F-5E and a tandem-seat -5F under a contract which was concluded in 1995 worth about $40 million. The programme is running six months behind schedule as the result of difficulties with suppliers and the condition of the two airframes supplied by Indonesia.

Following the delivery of the first two aircraft, Indonesia will take responsibility for upgrading the remainder of its nine F-5Es and one -5F. Sabca will supply modification kits, procedures and three technicians to assist with the work.

The aircraft will be upgraded at Lanud Iswhyudi air base in batches of no more than three at a time. With work on each aircraft expected to take up to five months to finish, the programme will almost certainly slip beyond the latest revised completion date of the end of 1998, say sources.

Modifications include fitting the F-5s with a new GEC-Marconi head-up display, air-data computer, Litton LN-93 inertial-navigation system, ALR-91 radar- warning receiver and Vinten video recorder. The aircraft's Emerson APS-159 radar is also being upgraded to the V7/V8 standard for compatibility with the Hughes AGM-64 Maverick air-to surface missile.


Source: Flight International