ISRAELI COMPANIES HAVE succeeded in turning into actual business the much-mooted upgrade market for both the Northrop F-5 and Soviet-era combat aircraft.

Israel Aircraft Industries' (IAI) Lahav division implemented an avionics and weapons-system upgrade on the Chilean air force's F-5E/F. This included a variant of the Elta EL/M 2032 pulse-Doppler radar, and added the capability to carry advanced infra-red-guided air-to-air missiles. The ability to carry the Rafael Litening laser designator pod and laser-guided bombs is included, although it is not known whether the Chilean air force is to equip its F-5s with the Litening.

Elbit, meanwhile, is acting as mission-systems integrator on the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) F-5 upgrade programme. In this case, the aircraft are being fitted with a variant of the Italian Fiar Grifo radar. Integration problems with the radar and other systems have hampered the programme. Both upgrades also include cockpit improvements, with two multi-function displays and a head-up display (HUD). In the case of the Chilean air force and the RSAF, it remains uncertain as to whether they will be early export customers for the Rafael Python 4.

IAI Lahav and Elbit are also involved in upgrading Mikoyan MiG-21 Fishbeds. Elbit is implementing a substantial upgrade for the Romanian air force, including the provision of an Elta multi-mode radar for those aircraft slated for the air-defence role. A new mission computer, along with two multi-function displays, and a HUD are included. Romania is also understood to have selected the Litening pod to be integrated on its MiG-21s, with some ten pods thought to be included. Up to 100 aircraft have been proposed for upgrade, although it remains doubtful that Romania can afford to upgrade such a large number of aircraft.

A similar upgrade is being implemented by IAI for a South-East Asian customer. Although the company declines to identify the client state, it is believed to be Cambodia. Around a dozen single-seat and two two-seat trainers are due to be upgraded.

Source: Flight International