EADS Casa is close to completing its Northrop F-5 upgrade for the Spanish air force, with the service's penultimate aircraft having recently arrived at the company's Getafe site near Madrid for modifications.

Spain approved an 18-aircraft modernisation programme worth €31 million ($41 million) in 2002 to provide the SF-5B lead-in fighter fleet with new mission computers, improved cockpit avionics, GPS/INS navigation and limited structural modifications. The programme was reduced to 17 aircraft after the crash of an SF-5B in January 2003. EADS Casa and Israel Aircraft Industries also upgraded four prototype aircraft.

The latest aircraft to enter the modernisation programme is the first to receive a major structural upgrade, which includes the replacement of several main fuselage ribs. The remainder of Spain's SF-5B lead-in fighter fleet will also receive this modification over the next year at Getafe.

The air force is meanwhile scheduled to accept its first of 67 upgraded Boeing EF-18A/B Hornets from EADS Casa on 21 December, with another five to follow next year. 

Source: Flight International