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RTAF completes upgrades to F-5 fighter aircraft fleet

The Royal Thai Air Force's upgraded F-5E/F TH ‘Super Tigris' force has improved combat capabilities. The RTAF expects the aircraft to provide another 10 to 15 years of operational service. (Royal Thai Air Force)

The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has completed upgrades to its active force of Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II fighter aircraft.

In a statement on 16 February, the RTAF said that 14 aircraft have been upgraded to the F-5E/F TH ‘Super Tigris' standard as part of the B.Khor.18 B/C Capability Improvement Project. The RTAF added that the “structures and important systems” of 14 aircraft were improved.

In a statement to Janes , the RTAF added that the upgrades were “designed” and conducted by Israel's Elbit Systems and a Thai company, RV Connex (RVC). In August 2017, Elbit Systems reported the contract had a value of USD96 million, according to information held by Janes .

The RTAF said that the Tiger's “detection, weapon system, self-defence system, and a tactical datalink” have been upgraded for “higher performance and capability”. The new tactical datalink is very likely the domestic Link-T system. This system upgrade will allow the ‘Super Tigris' aircraft to communicate with the RTAF's Saab JAS 39 Gripen C/D and Lockheed Martin F-16A/B fighter jets.

“Aircraft conducting air operations can now perform missions both during the day and at night, with the capability to engage more advanced threats as well as the ability to support network-centric operations,” the RTAF said.

In images of the closing ceremony of the upgrade programme released on 16 February, the last two aircraft upgraded appear to be an F-5E TH (serial no 21112) and an F-5F TH (serial no 21104).

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