As you might know this, RTAF is going to decommission some F-5B/E and replace them by Gripen.
So I have to go back to the origin. RTAF first upgraded all of its F-5 in 1987 by Israeli company. The upgrade include new radar, new HUD, new computer-control weapon system, INS, Chaff & Flare dispender and Python-3.Back in 2003 RTAF hired Elbit company from Israel to supply the upgrade kit for 31 F-5E/F but the lack of fund forced them to cut to only around 15 F-5s that were received upgraded.
The last upgrade program consists of new Mission Computer, EW system, Communication system, Navigation system, Extension of the service life of the engine and structure. It’s also include DASH helmet and Python-4. This will allows RTAF to fly them for 15 years more. (from 2003) And RTAF called them “F-5T Tigres”
But the about-to-retire F-5 of 701 sqn. are not upgrade by the last upgrade program and all of them will be decommission in 3 years bacause it is not worth for RTAF to upgrade any more compare to the time the airframe left and they decide to buy the more capable one, Gripen.
The cost of “F-5T Tigres” upgrade program is around 2.5 – 3 million USD per aircraft include spare, DASH, and Python-4 (use today’s exchange rate). If you invests more you can get the BVR capability with Darby missile by install new radar like Grifo from Italy. But the lack of fund stop this attemp.
F-5T Tigres will stay with us until around 2018 – 2020. In that time I hope the Gripen production line still exist so we can replace them with Gripen for the sake of commonality among the inventory.
Here is the photo of F-E of 701 Sqn. that about to be decommissioned in 2011.
Photos has been force resize to fit the wordpress web style. You can save these photos in your computer to see the full-scale images.
Photo of F-5T Tigres. Thank http://www.wingsofsiam.pantown.com