THE TAIWANESE AIR force is expected to select a contractor shortly to convert eight of its Northrop F-5E fighters to reconnaissance aircraft.

Competing for the Taiwanese RF-5E Tiger-eye conversion deal are Taiwan's Aero Industry Development Center, the Taiwan Aerospace-owned maintenance company Air Asia and Singapore Technologies Aerospace (STAe).

The air force had intended to award the work to STAe, but was forced to open the contract up to competitive bidding after complaints from Taiwan's local aerospace industry (Flight International, 19-25 April).

STAe's original proposal was to upgrade ten aircraft to the Tiger-eye configuration, in exchange for ten surplus air force F-5E/Fs. STAe has been sourcing additional fighters for the Singapore air force, while its own F-5 fleet undergoes an avionics upgrade.

The number of aircraft to be converted to the reconnaissance role has been cut to eight. The air force is also understood to be looking for an enhanced version of the Tiger-eye.

Source: Flight International