Thai Air Force seeking F-5 Tiger upgrades from Grumman

The Royal Thai Air Force has requested funds from the Thai government to continue upgrading its squadron of F-5 Tiger II interceptors purchased from United States defense contractor and aerospace firm Northrup-Grumman, a global defense publication reported last week.

The $96 million in funding would be sufficient for upgrading four F-5 interceptors in addition to 10 Tigers that had previously been upgraded, according to Melbourne, Australia-based Defense News. The funds would pay for the installation of the Link-T tactical data link that will connect the planes to the Air Force’s command-and-control network and improve the networking capability of the aircraft.

The cabinet of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to approve the new funding request for the purchase and installation. Thailand has one of the more formidable air forces in the region, although the Kingdom is at peace with all nations. The Thai military, however, regularly participates in United Nations peacekeeping operations and has been a defense and security ally of the United States for the past 60 years.

The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) said the upgrade includes new data links, multi-mode radars, new weapons and electronic warfare systems. “The upgraded aircraft, known as the F-5T Super Tigris, will also incorporate structural improvements that the Air Force says will add approximately 15 years to its service life,” the publication reported.

Thailand’s F-5 Tigers are based in Ubon Ratchathani province and are part of a squadron that also includes Saab JAS-39C/D Gripens from Sweden and Lockheed Martin F-16A/B Fighting Falcons from the United States.

“Thailand’s Air Force is also currently upgrading 18 of its newer F-16s with new radars and other improvements that include the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System and the capability to fire the Diehl BGT IRIS-T air-to-air missile,” Defense News reported.