Air Platforms

US seeks to restart parts manufacture for Taiwan F-5s

30 April 2019

The United States is looking to source new-build spare parts to support Taiwan’s fleet of F-5 combat aircraft. Source: IHS Markit/James Hardy

The United States is considering recommencing parts production for the Northrop F-5 Tiger II fighter aircraft to support Taiwan's ageing fleet.

Having previously sought to source surplus parts, the US Air Force (USAF) on 30 April issued a request for information (RFI) for new-build parts to sustain the Republic of China Air Force's (RoCAF's) single-seat F-5E and twin-seat F-5F platforms that have been in service since 1974 and 1976 respectively (having originally received 242 F-5E and 66 F-5F aircraft, it is unclear how many remain operational today).

"The Proven Aircraft Program Office, located at Hill AFB, Utah, is anticipating the award of a contract to procure F-5 unique parts from qualified manufacturers. Parts must be factory new or new manufacture and not from aftermarket vendors," the solicitation said.

A total of 1,771 parts are required, although the USAF did not specify what they might be. The service said industry responses are due by 10 00 h MST on 29 May, and that it plans to begin the effort in fiscal year (FY) 2020.

The USAF's search for new parts for the RoCAF's F-5 fleet comes about six months after it issued an RFI for surplus parts. At that time it said it was looking to source 45 items ranging from windshield panels through to circuit cards.

As the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), Northrop Grumman will be the most likely candidate to fulfil the USAF's requirement for F-5 spare parts for Taiwan. However, the F-5 is an old platform, and while there are about 1,000 of the type still in service globally, the company has previously admitted that it has not provided the level of sustainment and support for this aircraft that would normally be expected from an OEM. In 2010 Northrop Grumman announced that it was teaming with RUAG Aviation and Astronautics to launch an F-5 and T-38 Talon support and sustainment programme, in a belated attempt to re-engage in providing through-life support for the legacy aircraft.

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