Tunisia to upgrade its F-5 fleet


The Tunisian Air Force is upgrading its Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II fleet with new avionics and maintenance repairs under a $32 million contract.

The US Department of Defence announced the $32.458 million contract on 16 September, which was awarded to Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation in Florida.

Work will be performed at St. Augustine, Florida, and Tunisia, and is expected to be complete by 30 December 2018.

In September 2013 the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said that Tunisia had requested Block 1 avionics upgrades for 12 F-5s valued at $60 million. The upgrade was to include Northrop Grumman’s LN-260 navigation system.

The DSCA said the proposed sale would improve Tunisia’s capability to deter regional threats and strengthen its homeland defence, as well as support counter-terrorism operations.

The Force Aerienne de la Republique de Tunisie received eight F-5E and four F-5F aircraft between 1984 and 1985 and five ex-US Air Force F-5Es in 1989, but several have been lost in crashes, with at least two F-5Es and an F-5F being rendered unserviceable.

The F-5 is an important aircraft for the Tunisian Republic Air Force, as it is the country’s main air defence aircraft. The type is flown by 15 Squadron from the Air Force’s Bizerte-Sidi Ahmed air base.

Other Tunisian combat aircraft include a dozen MB-326K/Ls, nine L-59Ts, 12 SF-260WTs and six SF-260Cs, according to The World Defence Almanac 2015.

Recent additions to Tunisia’s air force include two Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Super Hercules (delivered in April 2013 and December 2014) while 12 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawks will be delivered from late 2015.