International Air Forces Relying on F-5 Fleets to Maintain Battle Readiness

by Matthew Beres, Airborne Retrofit & Modernization Analyst, Forecast International.

Iranian F-5 Saeqeh. Source – Shahram Sharifi

The past year has seen a significant surge worldwide to upgrade legacy fighters. Despite a rapidly aging worldwide fleet with an average of more than 50 years in service, international F-5 fleets are no exception. Even aircraft with more than 40 years of service are receiving upgrades. The 575 aircraft with an on average of between 30-40 years of service, therefore, may provide ample opportunities for retrofit programs. We’ve highlighted two such programs in this article.

Iran

In accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2231, Iran cannot sign an agreement for new fighters until October 18th, 2020. Until then, its air force is dependent on upgraded versions of legacy aircraft, many of which have been out of service for over a decade.

Iran has 17 remaining F-5F two-seaters, which may form the basis for the nation’s Saeqeh-2 remanufacturing program. However, no possible upgrades for the F-5Fs are likely to bring these older jets up to the performance levels of 5th or even 4th generation fighters.

The remanufactured fighters will feature improved radar and weapon loads, and the ability to mount precision-guided munitions. Other upgrades will include a new tail, cockpit improvements – most likely a glass cockpit, integration of countermeasures, and engine improvements.

Honduras

Honduras is considering a retrofit program for its fleet of 12 F-5Es, of which only five are still flightworthy.  Honduras had offered the entire fleet to Nicaragua in 2008, but the offer was rejected.  Given its current financial and political situation, Honduras cannot easily obtain new aircraft.

In 2015, the Israeli government offered to finance the refurbishment of the Honduran Air Force’s F-5E/F fighter fleet.  But this upgrade has been delayed pending improved relations between Honduras and the U.S.  U.S. approval is dependent upon Hondurans reducing corruption, implementing agreements with the U.S. on anti-drug operations, and prosecuting members of the military and police for human rights violations.

In November 2016, the Honduran National Congress approved a draft decree of a cooperation agreement between Israel and Honduras.  U.S. approval is now expected in 2017.  Retrofits will be completed on 10 of the aircraft by the end of 2018.

Please feel free to use this content with Forecast International and analyst attributions, along with a link to the article. Contact Ray Peterson at +1 (203) 426-0800 or via email at ray.peterson@forecast1.com for additional analysis.


Forecast International’s Airborne Retrofit & Modernization Forecast provides operators in the military and commercial aviation sectors with the information they need to maximize their current investments rather than expand their fleets, a trend that is opening up multiple opportunities for the expansion of retrofit and modernization programs. It offers a one-stop service for tracking the status of commercial and military R&M programs in progress worldwide, and pinpoints key developments in the aviation industry that will impact the market in the future.Forecast FI Logo