United States Marine Corps
The Northrop F-5A and F-5B Freedom Fighter and the F-5E and F-5F Tiger II are part of a supersonic light fighter family, initially designed in the late 1950s by Northrop Corporation.
Being smaller and simpler than contemporaries such as the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, the F-5 cost less to both procure and operate, making it a popular export aircraft.
The F-5 started life as a privately funded light fighter program by Northrop in the 1950s. The design team wrapped a small, highly aerodynamic fighter around two compact and high-thrust General Electric J85 engines, focusing on performance and low cost of maintenance.
Though primarily designed for the day air superiority role, the aircraft is also a capable ground-attack platform.
The F-5A entered service in the early 1960s. During the Cold War, over 800 were produced through 1972 for U.S. allies.
Though the United States Air Force (USAF) had no need for a light fighter, it did procure approximately 1,200 Northrop T-38 Talon trainer aircraft, which were directly based on the F-5A.
In 1970, Northrop won the International Fighter Aircraft (IFA) competition to replace the F-5A, with better air-to-air performance against aircraft like the Soviet MiG-21.
The resultant aircraft, initially known as F-5A-21, subsequently became the F-5E.
It had more powerful (5,000 lbf) General Electric J85-21 engines, and had a lengthened and enlarged fuselage, accommodating more fuel. Its wings were fitted with enlarged leading edge extensions, giving an increased wing area and improved maneuverability.
The aircraft’s avionics were more sophisticated, crucially including a radar (initially the Emerson Electric AN/APQ-153) (the F-5A and B had no radar). It retained the gun armament of two M39 cannon, one on either side of the nose of the F-5A.
Various specific avionics fits could be accommodated at customer request, including an inertial navigation system, TACAN and ECM equipment.
The U.S. Navy F-5 fleet continues to be modernized with 36 low-hour F-5E/Fs purchased from Switzerland in 2006.
These were updated as F-5N/Fs with modernized avionics and other improved systems.
Currently, the only U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps units flying the F-5 are VFC-13 at NAS Fallon, Nevada, VFC-111 at NAS Key West, Florida, and VMFT-401 at MCAS Yuma, Arizona.
Source & more info: wikipedia.org
Last update: 4 May 2020