F-5A Freedom Fighter


---- F-5B Freedom Fighter
---- F-5E/F Tiger II
---- CF-5A/D (Canadian designation)
---- NF-5A/D (Dutch designation)
---- SF-5A/D (Spanish designation)
---- RF-5E Tigereye photo reconnaissance
---- F-5BR (Brazilian upgrade)
---- Chegoong-Ho (South Korean designation)
---- Chung Cheng (Taiwanese designation)
---- Saeqeh (Iranian variant)
---- Azarakhsh (Iranian variant)

EQUIPMENT CATEGORY: Aircraft -- Fighter

PICTURES OF: F-5A Freedom Fighter


The F-5A Freedom Fighter is a lightweight, supersonic aircraft developed as an inexpensive, easily maintained fighter capable of operating from unimproved airfields. It was originally offered as a candidate for a U.S. lightweight fighter, but found virtually all of its market overseas. Although similar in appearance, the F-5E Tiger II represented a significant improvement over the earlier F-5A. The T-38 Talon supersonic trainer is similar to the F-5 in most respects (see separate database entry).

The F-5's small, thin wing is mounted low on the fuselage well aft of the cockpit. It has 24 deg of leading-edge sweep, leading edge flaps and single-slotted trailing-edge flaps inboard of the inset ailerons. The wingtips have long missile rails. On the F-5E Tiger II, the leading and trailing edge flaps have automatic combat-maneuver settings to increase turn rate. The F-5E also has a leading-edge root extension (LERX) with compound sweep that improves the aircraft's handling at high angles of attack. Turn rates -- both continuous and peak -- increased by more than 30 percent over the F-5A.

The tail group shape and position have remained constant throughout F-5 development. The double-taper fin has a two-section inset rudder. The cropped-delta, all-moving tailplanes are mounted at the bottom of the fuselage in line with the fin. Controls are assisted by two independent hydraulic systems, and the aircraft is fitted with a stability augmentation system.

The two J85 turbojets are buried side by side in the aft fuselage with the after-burning nozzles extending well beyond the tail group. The air intakes are located low on either side of the fuselage. A boundary-layer splitter plate is fitted on the fuselage side of each intake and the lip is curved aft as it moves away from the fuselage. The Tiger has uprated J85s and auxiliary inlet doors for takeoff and low-speed flight. Internal fuel tankage is confined to the fuselage. Iranian F-5s were fitted with a "buddy" refueling system in 1988 that permits one F-5 to refuel another.

The fuselage has a long pointed nose that slopes up to a low canopy; behind the canopy, a thick dorsal spine slopes down to the tail. The nose shape has varied with some aircraft being fitted with a flattened "shark nose." The RF-5E Tigereye reconnaissance variant has a chisel-shaped nose with an underslung pallet for cameras. Area-ruling is applied to the wing-fuselage junction in both the F-5A and F-5E/F, with the F-5E/F's fuselage being wider.

The main landing gear struts retract from mid-wing pivots, the wheels being housed in fuselage wells. The nose gear in many F-5As and all F-5E/Fs has a two-position strut to raise the static angle of attack by 3.3 deg, thereby increasing the wing's lift and shortening takeoff roll. Side-by-side airbrakes are mounted on the fuselage bottom, forward of the landing gear.

The single-seat cockpit of the F-5A and F-5E is enclosed by a single-piece canopy hinged at the rear. The two-seat F-5B trainer and F-5F trainer-interceptor have two canopy sections that are hinged to the side. The F-5A had an austere avionics fit including a radar gunsight. The F-5E is equipped with an Emerson Electric AN/APQ-153 or -159 pulse-Doppler radar. The F-5F has the Emerson Electric APQ-157. In addition to a more comprehensive communications and navigation fit, the F-5E also has the General Electric AN/ASG-29 or -31 lead-computing optical sight (LCOS), a central air data computer and an attitude and heading reference system. Several F-5E users have the Litton LN-33 inertial navigation system (INS). Saudi aircraft have General Instruments AN/ALR-46 radar warning receiver (RWR), Tracor AN/ALE-40 countermeasures dispenser and Hughes AGM-65 Maverick missiles. Swiss and South Korean aircraft are being refitted with the Dalmo Victor AN/ALR-87 threat warning system. Several air forces have avionics upgrades underway or planned (see "Variants").

Armament consists of two Pontiac-built M39 20-mm cannon in the upper nose (the F-5F has one M39 cannon, the other having been removed to make room for camera pallets). Each wingtip missile launch rail carries an AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile (AAM). All variants have one centerline hardpoint and four wing pylons for external stores including AAM, air-to-ground missiles, bombs, gun pods, rocket pods and external fuel tanks.



In service.

Initial operational capability (IOC) with the U.S. Air Force was achieved in 1964 (F-5A). The F-5E attained the milestone in 1973. First flight of Northrop N-156 took place on July 30, 1959. All F-5s in U.S. service are F-5E/F variants. The F-5A through D variants continue to serve with many other countries.

Developed for export through the Military Assistance Program (MAP ). Iran was the first nation to fly the F-5 under this program on Feb. 1, 1965.

Northrop built 879 F-5A/Bs, while Canadair and Spain's CASA built 320 F-5A variants. More than 1,400 F-5E/Fs were built, including license assembly by Korean Air in South Korea, F and W in Switzerland and AIDC in Taiwan. When production ended in February 1990, 2,600 F-5s had been built in the U.S. The last eight (for Singapore) were assembled from factory spares. Approximately 1,500 F-5 variants remain in military service with various nations.

Ethiopian F-5A, F-5E and F-5F aircraft had been unserviceable for several years before they were discarded in 1990. Royal Netherlands Air Force NF-5s were in service from 1969 to March 15, 1991. The Royal Netherlands Air Force donated 60 NF-5s to the Turkish air force and 12 to the Greek air force and sold seven to Venezuela.

In February 2001, Embraer received the first two F-5 aircraft to be upgraded under the F-5BR program for the Brazilian air force. The Brazilian government approved the program on Dec. 30, 2000. The first fully modernized aircraft was unveiled publicly in December 2003.

The F-5N's first flight occurred in March 2003 (see "Variants" for more information).

On Oct. 1, 2005, the Philippines officially decommissioned the last of its F-5 fighter jets. The Philippines originally received 37 F-5 fighters from the U.S. By the time of the final decommissioning, only five of Manila's aircraft were still flying.

On Feb. 12, 2006, Brazil said it would buy nine used F-5 jet fighters from Saudi Arabia at a cost of US$24 million. The aircraft are to receive upgrades from Embraer and Elbit (see "Variants" for more information).

On March 31, 2008, Embraer announced that it had delivered the 23rd modernized F-5BR to the Brazilian air force. Upgraded aircraft are designated F-5M by the service.

The Navy completed a six-year program in 2008 to buy and refurbish 44 retired Swiss air force F-5s. The Swiss F-5N replacement program was designed to replace Navy F-5Es with low-time F-5Ns, allowing the U.S. to operate the F-5N aircraft to fiscal year 2015. These aircraft are assigned to NAS Key West, Fla., MCAS Yuma, Ariz., and NAS Fallon, Nev. The final aircraft was delivered to the Navy by Northrop Grumman in April 2009. Forty-one aircraft were modified to the F-5N standard, while three single-seat aircraft were modified to the two-seat F-5F configuration.

In February 2010, the Iranian air force announced that it had inducted into service a new squadron of Saeqeh fighter-bombers. In October 2009, the air force said that it had taken delivery of five of the indigenously built aircraft.

The 11 F-5E/F fighters in Yemeni service have been overhauled and upgraded with support from Singapore, according to the March 2010 edition of Combat Aircraft (U.K.).

In July 2010, the South Korean air force announced that it would modernize the ejection seats on its F-5 fighters. The decision followed a month-long investigation into a crash that killed two pilots when their aircraft encountered sea fog on landing. The aircraft's older ejection system reportedly failed because the aircraft was not at an altitude of more than 2,000 ft (600 m). About US$4.2 million was set aside to modify ejection seats for about 150 F-5s in South Korean service between 2011 and 2013. At the time, eight F-5s had crashed since 2000, claiming the lives of 13 pilots.

Iran's oldest F-5A made its first flight in December 2010 after being refurbished for a return to service. Earlier in the decade, the Iranian air force planned to withdraw some of its older F-5A/B aircraft as part of a cost-reduction program. Two F-5Bs and two RF-5As were placed into storage. However, in 2009 plans were changed and these aircraft are being returned to service.

On April 14, 2011, Embraer announced that it had signed a US$85 million contract with the Brazilian air force to modernize an additional 11 F-5 fighters under the F-5BR program and supply another flight simulator. The project encompasses eight two-seat F-5Fs and three single-seat F-5Es. These aircraft were reportedly acquired from Jordan in 2008. The agreement brought the total number of aircraft to be modernized to 57. Work on the second batch is scheduled to begin in October 2012, with first deliveries scheduled for 2013. At the time, 39 of the aircraft had been modernized. The last 11 aircraft are slated to be based at Manaus in support of the air force's Amazon protection system.

On June 19, 2012, Embraer announced that it had delivered the last two upgraded F-5M aircraft of an initial batch of 46.


 Northrop Grumman Corp., Hawthorne, Calif.


   Air Force               [12] (8 F-5E, 4 F-5F)
   Air Force               [15] (10 F-5A, 5 F-5D)
   Air Force               [57] (6 F-5E, 51 F-5EM/FM)
   Air Force               [12] F-5E/F
   Air Force               [8] F-5E
   Air Force               [12] (8 F-5E, 4 F-5F)
   Air Force               [89+] (20+ F-5B, 60+ F-5E/F, 6 Azarakhsh, 3
   Air Force               [25] F-5E/F
   Air Force               [22] F-5E/F
   Air Force               [13] F-5E/F
   Air Force               [10] (8 F-5E, 2 F-5F)
   Air Force               [33] (8 F-5A, 2 F-5B, 20 F-5E, 3 F-5F)
 Saudi Arabia
   Air Force               [36] (14 F-5B, 22 F-5B/F-5F/RF-5E)
   Air Force               [37] (28 F-5S, 9 F-5T)
 South Korea
   Air Force               [194] (20 F-5B, 142 F-5E, 32 F-5F)
   Air Force               [20] F-5B
   Air Force               [54] (42 F-5E, 12 F-5F)
   Air Force               [88] F-5E/F (some in storage)
   Air Force               [35] F-5E/F
   Air Force               [12] F-5E/F
   Air Force               [87] F-5A/B
   Navy                    [46] (5 F-5F, 41 F-5N)
   Air Force               [10] (7 F-5A, 3 F-5B)
   Air Force               [12] (2 F-5B, 10 F-5E)


   F-5B/F                  2
   All others              1

      empty                 8,085 lb ( 3,667 kg)
      max weapons load      6,200 lb ( 2,812 kg)
      max takeoff          20,576 lb ( 9,333 kg)
      empty                 9,723 lb ( 4,410 kg)
      max weapons load      7,000 lb ( 3,175 kg)
      max takeoff          24,722 lb (11,214 kg)

      length               47 ft  2 in (14.38 m)
      height               13 ft  4 in ( 4.06 m)
      wingspan             25 ft  3 in ( 7.70 m)
      wing area            170 sq ft (15.79 m sq)
      length               47 ft  5 in (14.45 m)
      height               13 ft  4 in ( 4.06 m)
      wingspan             26 ft  8 in ( 8.13 m)
      wing area            186 sq ft (17.30 m sq)

      engine               2 x General Electric J85-GE-13 turbojet
         dry               2,720 lb (1,234 kg) static thrust each
         afterburner       4,080 lb (1,851 kg) static thrust each
      fuel capacity        583 gal (2,207 liters)
      engine               2 x General Electric J85-GE-21B turbojet
         afterburner       5,000 lb (2,268 kg) static thrust each
      fuel capacity        677 gal (2,555 liters)

   F-5A with 13,340 lb (6,055 kg) load
         at altitude       803 kts (925 mph, 1,489 kmh, Mach 1.40) at
                              36,000 ft (11,000 m)
         cruise            488 kts (585 mph,   904 kmh, Mach 0.85)
         stall             128 kts (147 mph,   237 kmh)
      rate of climb        28,700 ft/min ( 8,748 m/min)
      ceiling              51,800 ft (15,789 m)
      ferry range          1,359 nm (1,565 mi, 2,519 km) tanks dropped
      radius                 170 nm (  195 mi,   314 km) hi-lo-hi with max
                              payload and combat reserves
   F-5E with 13,340 lb (6,055 kg) load
         at altitude       935 kts (1,077 mph, 1,733 kmh, Mach 1.64) at
                              36,000 ft (11,000 m)
         cruise            488 kts (  585 mph,   904 kmh, Mach 0.85)
         stall             124 kts (  143 mph,   230 kmh)
      rate of climb        34,500 ft/min (10,516 m/min)
      ceiling              51,800 ft (15,789 m)
      ferry range          1,545 nm (1,778 mi, 2,861 km)
         lo-lo-lo            120 nm (  138 mi,   222 km) with 5,200-lb
                              (2,358-kg) payload and combat reserves
         at altitude         570 nm (  656 mi, 1,056 km) at 15,000 ft
                              (4,575 m), max fuel, 2 AAM, combat reserves

   Gun                     2 x M239A2 20-mm cannon
      ammunition           280 rounds each
   Missile                 2 x AIM-9 Sidewinder AAM on wingtip launchers
   Other pylons            5 (4 underwing, 1 fuselage)
   Max weapons
      F-5A                 6,200 lb (2,812 kg)
      F-5E                 7,000 lb (3,175 kg)
   Ordnance                1 x 1,985-lb (900-kg) bomb
                           1 x AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missile
                           9 x 500-lb (227-kg) bombs
                           sub-munitions dispensers
                           rocket pods
                           3 x GPU-5 30-mm gun pods max
                           3 x 150-or 275-gal (568- or 1,041-l) drop tanks

   Radar                   AN/APQ-153 or -159 I/J-band pulse-Doppler (F-5E)



This was the original Northrop code name for the design that became the N-156 lightweight fighter.

F-5A Freedom Fighter

This is a single-seat version fitted with J85-GE-13 engines. First export production variant flew on May 19, 1964.

F-5B Freedom Fighter

This is a two-seat trainer version of the F-5A/D. Empty weight 8,361 lb (3,792 kg), loaded weight 20,116 lb (9,124 kg). Length 46 ft 4 in (14.12 m). Max speed 769 kts (886 mph, 1,426 kmh) or Mach 1.34.


These were a Canadian-built (Canadair) variant designated CF-116 in Canadian service. It was powered by 4,300-lb (1,950-kg) static thrust J85-CAN-15 turbojets and had extensible nose legs. CF-5As were single-seat fighters, CF-5Ds were two-seaters. After updating the electronics, cockpit controls and targeting systems of 36 of their 73 CF-5s, the Canadian air force made a monetary decision to sell the entire fleet. Bristol Aerospace performed the CF-5 upgrade work in 1990. The last two airworthy CF-5s were put in long-term storage in July 2004. Only 16 of the aircraft were sold (to Botswana) out of the entire fleet.


These were Canadair-built aircraft for the Netherlands with modified wing including leading-edge maneuvering slats, larger drop tanks. A total of 70 NF-5s were donated to Turkey between 1988 and 1993 as they were replaced service in the Dutch air force with F-16s. Another 10 have been transferred to Greece under similar, no-cost terms.

Norwegian F-5A/-5B Upgrade

Performed by Fokker in the Netherlands on 30 aircraft (17 A, 13 B). The F-5Bs received General Instruments AN/ALR-46 radar warning receiver (RWR), Tracor AN/ALE-38 chaff/flare dispenser new radio, TACAN, IFF and Litton LIS-600D attitude and heading reference system (AHRS). The F-5As are fitted with Tracor AN/ALE-40 chaff/flare dispensers.

Norwegian Tiger PAWS upgrade

This was a cockpit avionics upgrade program for avionics weapon and systems (PAWS) improvements developed by LTV's Sierra Research Division of Buffalo , N.Y. Seven NF-5As and eight NF-5Bs were refitted with GEC Avionics HUD (identical to NAF F-16 HUD), MIL-STD-1553B digital databus, angle-of-attack system and indexers, Honeywell H-423 or Litton LN-93 ring laser gyro INS, central air data computer, and color video camera and recorder.

A US$20 million contract was awarded in February 1991, with the first NF-5 arriving in Buffalo in the same month and first delivery in May 1992. The program was completed in July 1994. Bristol Aerospace was contracted to supply new wings for some of these F-5s.

Spanish SF-5A/D

These were CASA-built versions of Northrop F-5A/B. These had few variations from the basic aircraft. In 1988, CASA began structural and avionics upgrade. Corrosion-weakened parts were replaced and antennas, communications and navigation equipment and new electronic support measures (ESM) equipment was installed. The refit originally involved 12 aircraft.

A December 1990 contract funded a CASA program to maintain the 22 Spanish SF-5B trainers past the year 2000.

The remaining 24 CASA-built SF-5A/SRF-5A/SF-5D aircraft were grounded in June 1989 after a series of accidents had wrecked five aircraft. Suspicions regarding the cause centered on the guns or other weapons systems.

F-5E Tiger II

This was the second-generation F-5 fighter version that replaced the F-5A/B in production. The II suffix was originally added to the name to avoid confusion with F-11 Tiger (now defunct). First flight occurred on Aug. 11, 1972.


The two-seat trainer retains one cannon with 140 rounds, weapons pylons and tip rails. It can be fitted with the Northrop AN/AVQ-27 laser target designator. Empty weight is increased to 10,576 lb (4,797 kg); takeoff weight to 25,152 lb (11,409 kg); stall speed to 136 kts (157 mph; 253 kmh); and the fuselage is stretched to 51 ft 4 in (15.65 m). First flight took place on Sept. 25, 1974.

Chegoong-Ho (Air Master )

This is the South Korean name given to 48 F-5Es and 28 F-5Fs assembled by Korean Air at the Kim Hae factory between 1981 and 1986.

Chung Cheng

This is the Taiwanese name given to 248 F-5Es and 36 F-5Fs assembled by AIDC in Taichung, Taiwan.

RF-5E Tigereye

This is a photo-reconnaissance version with modified nose that accepts a variety of camera-carrying pallets in addition to mounting a KS-87D1 oblique frame camera. Pallet No. 1 has KA-56E low-altitude and KA-95B medium-altitude cameras and Texas Instruments RS-710E IR linescanner. Pallet No. 2 holds KA-56E and KA-93B6 panoramic camera with 145-deg scan angle. Pallet No. 3 holds KA-174A long-range oblique photo (LOROP) camera. Dimensions and armament are similar to the F-5F, but it is a single-seat aircraft like the F-5E. Low-altitude range with three 275-gal (1,041-liter) drop tanks and two AAMs is 350 nm (403 mi, 648 km); high-altitude range is 595 nm (685 mi, 1,102 km).

First flight occurred in January 1979. Ten were exported to Saudi Arabia, two to Malaysia. In March 1990, Singapore announced that it would convert eight of its F-5Es into Tigereyes over a three-year period.

Brazilian F-5BR/F-5EM/F-5FM upgrade program

In February 2005, the Brazilian air force began receiving modernized F-5BR jets. The program, budgeted for US$285 million, calls for Embraer to modernize 46 aircraft stationed at Canoas, in Rio Grande do Sul state, and at Santa Cruz, in Rio de Janeiro. The Israeli company Elbit was selected by Brazil to supply the avionics systems and flight instruments. By the end of 2004, Embraer had already taken delivery of 11 F-5 fighters, including two prototypes, to modernize. Updated aircraft are designated F-5EM or F-5FM.

The contract called for two aircraft a month to be completed after the delivery of the first one in February of 2005. The program will extend the operational life of Brazil's F-5 aircraft for 15 years.

The modernization includes a new avionics package of navigation/armaments and aiming/self-defense systems, computers, Selex Galileo Grifo X multi-mode radar and Martin-Baker Mk 10 ejection seats. The aircraft also receive structural improvements and their armaments are standardized with other Brazilian air force weaponry, such as the MAA-1 Piranha air-to-air missile.

The updated cockpit includes hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) capability, two high-performance computers and an integrated INS/GPS navigation system. Three multifunction monitors and a helmet-mounted display provide pilots with an excellent man-machine interface, according to Embraer. All cockpit systems are designed for use with night-vision goggles.

The only noticeable physical change in the aircraft is a larger nosecone to accommodate the larger radar antenna. One 20-mm cannon is also removed to house the avionics for the radar.

Chilean upgrade program

Twelve F-5Es and two F-5Fs were updated by Israel Aircraft Industries under a US$200 million program announced in March 1990. Avionics were integrated through a multiplex digital databus and central mission computer. The principal sensor upgrade was the Elta EL/M-L 2023 multi-mode radar. Other improvements included the addition of the Astronautics weapon-deliver system, an El-Op HUD, two multi-function displays (MFD), hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls and the option to install a helmet-mounted display.

Jordanian F-5E avionics update

The prime contractor for this program was Smiths Industries (SI), based in Grand Rapids, Mich. The update included MIL-STD-1553B digital databus in the SI head-up navigation and targeting equipment for retrofit (HUNTER) system that incorporates SI head-up display weapon-aiming computer (HUDWAC) and British Aerospace Laser INS (LINS), electronic warfare suite. Plans for forward-looking infrared (FLIR) were delayed.

Mexican F-5E/F upgrades

Mexico has gradually implemented avionics upgrades to its fleet of F-5s. In 1995, GPS navigation was added to improve navigation and aid in the interception of unidentified aircraft.

In 2005, the F-5s received a radar upgrade that replaced the AN/APQ-135 with the AN/APQ-159(V)5. This increased the fighters' search range to 46 mi (74 km) and allowed precise detection of targets within a range of 18 mi (29 km).

South Korea upgrade program

This update program was similar to that of the Thai air force for approximately 100 F-5s. Samsung Aerospace Industries prepared a private-venture prototype that was fitted with a GEC Avionics HUDWAC, a Honeywell H-423 INS and a Litton LN-93 RLG INS.


The F-5N is a single seat, twin-engine, tactical fighter and attack aircraft providing simulated air-to-air combat training. F-5N/Fs are third-generation F-5 aircraft designed to replace the F-5A/B/E production models. These aging aircraft will be replaced by less worn F-5N/Fs acquired from the Swiss air force surplus by U.S. Navy. The Swiss F-5N replacement program replaces the present high-time Navy F-5Ns with low-time F-5Ns, which will allow the Navy and Marine Corps to operate the F-5N through fiscal year 2015.

The Swiss aircraft were manufactured with improved handling quality systems and featured a sharper nose, different wing leading edge roots and automatic flaps compared to U.S. F-5Es. According to the Naval Air Systems Command, the refurbishment involved taking an old U.S. F-5E and a Swiss aircraft and coming out at the end with an F-5N.

Iranian Simorgh upgrade program

This is an Iranian program to modernized F-5A/B aircraft. It focuses on the forward part of the fuselage, with changes to the nose bay, intakes, pitot, nose landing fear door and bay, windshield frame, cockpits and basic fuselage structure.

The second batch of aircraft to go through the program was equipped with a new Russian computer navigation system and K-36D ejection seats.


The Saeqeh (Thunderbolt ) is a significantly modified Iranian variant of the F-5. Official flights of the type reportedly began in September 2007. Other reports indicated that the Saeqeh entered Iranian service at that time. Iranian officials have claimed it is similar in performance to the F/A-18 Hornet . Most Western analysts are dubious.

The major modifications include twin tails, wings mounted above the intakes with the addition of leading edge strakes and new avionics.

Analysts believe that the design offers improved low-and-slow flight characteristics. The twin tails are said to boost takeoff and maneuvering performance.

Some reports have referred to the Saeqeh as a follow-on to the Azarakhsh program.


The Azarakhsh (Lightning) is another Iranian modification of the F-5. The name has been utilized for a series of efforts to create an indigenous Iranian fighter aircraft.

The latest variant was announced by Iranian officials in September 2006. It made a successful flight in August 2007. It has been described domestically as being equivalent to the F-5. Its nose is extended about 17 in (0.4 m) to accommodate a new radar.


F-5s have been upgraded by Chile (IAI and EMBRAER), Norway (Sierra), Singapore (Singapore Aerospace), Thailand (GEC-Marconi) and Venezuela (Singapore Aerospace). Avionics upgrade programs are planned for Brazil, South Korea, Switzerland and Taiwan. Indonesia has contracted with the SABCA (Belgian) to upgrade 12 F-5E/Fs.

The most notable upgrade program was the Northrop Grumman Co-operative Research and Development Agreement (CRDA) with the San Antonio Air Logistic Center. The structural upgrade program (SUP) involved manufacture of 14 major structural elements and related replacement parts. As part of the program, all F-5 aircraft involved received new horizontal stabilizers, dorsal longerons and upper cockpit longerons. F-5Fs were to receive new wings and the Martin Baker Mk10 ejection seat. F-5A/Bs, CF-5s and NF-5s were to get new lower cockpit longerons, air intake duct skins and bulkheads at four fuselage stations.

An advanced avionics demonstrator began flying in April 1995 under another CRDA. Included in this particular avionics package: Mil-standard 1553B databus and the operational software from the F-20 Tigershark fighter program. As part of this program, level one and two upgrade kits received the AN/APG-66 pulse-Doppler radar, inertial navigation system, new head-up display and single multi-function display and SADC. Level three added hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls, advanced weapon delivery system and mission computer. Level four included a new instrument panel with dual multi-function displays, data transfer system and advanced TACAN. Additional options included: forward-looking infrared (FLIR), electronic countermeasures (ECM) system, advanced radar warning receiver (RWR), GPS and new communications gear.

There are an estimated 1,500 F-5s in service with more than 25 air forces. Roughly 1,000 of these are estimated to be F-5E/F models.

On April 5, 2004, a Saudi air force F-5 plane crashed. The pilot survived the accident, which occurred during a training mission at King Fahd air base in Taif.

On Nov. 8, 2004, a Jordanian F-5 crashed, killing its pilot.

On July 15, 2009, a Taiwanese air force F-5F crashed during a bombing drill near the Penghu Islands in the Taiwan Strait shortly after taking off from Chingchuankang Air Base. Both pilots were killed. The air force grounded its F-5Fs after the crash.

On Dec. 23, 2009, a Thai air force F-5E crashed in the Ubon Ratchathani province, killing the pilot.

On March 2, 2010, two South Korean F-5F fighters crashed into Mount Hwangbyeong near Gangneung shortly after taking off for a training mission. All three pilots in the two aircraft were killed. The crashes may have been the result of foggy weather at the time, said an air force spokesman.

On Sept. 12, 2011, a Taiwanese air force F-5F and RF-5E crashed in the Yilan mountains during a night training mission. The aircraft went down shortly after taking off from a base in Hualien. Local fishermen reported that they saw two aircraft flying out of control shortly before the crash.

An F-5 fighter belonging to the Turkish air force's Turkish Stars aerobatics team crashed on March 13, 2012, in the central Konya province. One pilot was killed and one was missing immediately after the crash. Initial reports suggested the aircraft suffered an engine failure shortly after taking off.


On March 8, 2005, South Korea dispatched four air force F-5 jets to intercept a Japanese light plane that approached disputed islets occupied by South Korea but also claimed by Japan. The Defense Ministry diverted the F-5 jets from a routine surveillance mission over the Korean peninsula. The civil aircraft, operated by the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun, turned back before entering the Korea Air Defense Identification Zone (KADIZ) after repeated warnings from the South Korean air force.

When the Philippines retired its F-5s, they had seen action in counterinsurgency operations against communist guerrillas and Muslim separatists as well as against unsuccessful military coup plotters in a in 1989. They were also used in reconnaissance missions over disputed areas of the Spratly Islands, a chain of islands in the South China Sea wholly or partially claimed by the Philippines, Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

LATEST UPDATE: 1 August 2011