SHAH ALAM: Your time is gonna come. As we wait for the official decision to put back the old soldier back to work, our neighbour in the north is upgrading its F-5E/Fs so it will be able to continue service past 2030.
The Thais is spending some $180 million (RM770 million) to upgrade 14 F-5E/Fs with new radars, avionics, self protection systems and structural upgrades. These Super Tigris (what the Royal Thai AF are calling the upgraded Tigers) will be armed with Derby and Python BVR/WVR missiles for air-to-air engagements as well as Litening III targeting pod for ground attack. Funds for the upgrades for 10 F-5 were approved in 2015 while the other 4 on Aug. 1, 2017.
Quite a lot dosh for some 40-year-old aircraft then. Does this make sense? Yes, according to the Thais. They have to spent a lot more for new aircraft, for example, they paid $260 million or RM1.11 billion for eight Korean Aerospace KAI TA-50TH light trainer aircraft which they signed for recently in addition to the 4 they ordered back in 2015.
However the 12 TA-50s will be in service for until 2050 at least, when the F-5s will almost be 100 year-old already!
Please note that I am not questioning what the Thais are doing is right or not (it’s their money) but instead putting this out there for our own perspective.
Will it be cheaper to return to service the Fulcrums for a short time only (which is the likely outcome) or spend some extra money (likely for the same amount of money spent by the Thais for the F-5 upgrades, albeit for a smaller number of aircraft) to ensure that the fleet is servicable until 2030 at least?
Personally, I inclined to say no on both counts. As I mentioned in my earlier post, we are not investing enough money in the services for short or even long term gains, not for defence’s sake at least.
The current imbroglio facing the defence sector is in fact due to past mistakes, subterfuge and indecisions, compounded further by contemporary issues. And honestly I don’t know whether we can fix it or not.
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