Andrew Doyle/LONDON

SOGERMA-SOCEA OF France is to act as prime contractor in the long-awaited avionics and structural-upgrade programme for the Turkish air force's fleet of 70 Northrop Grumman F-5A/B fighter aircraft.

The French company, part of Aerospatiale, will perform the structural modifications and act as systems integrator. Israel's Elbit will be a subcontractor, with responsibility for the avionics upgrade.

The programme funded and managed by US investment company, Triton Systems, is being carried out, in conjunction with the air force. The US company hopes to sell 36 of the refurbished aircraft to foreign customers to help pay for the upgrade, with the remaining 34 to be retained by the air force.

According to Bernard McMahon, Triton chief executive officer, work has "...already started on engineering preparations", with the upgrade team due to meet in Israel in mid-January.

The upgrade is intended to enable the aircraft to be used as a lead-in trainer for the Lockheed Martin F-16.

Triton signed an agreement with the Turkish Government to go ahead with the programme in July 1994, and subsequently rejected bids from Fokker, Israel Aircraft Industries and Sierra Technologies.

Source: Flight International