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    Fuerza Aerea Hondurena / Honduran Air Force
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                                 Last update 26-09-2014

Bases                                                                         Procurement and operation

 

 Tension between Honduras and Nicaragua, governed
 by a socialist regime, was high during the '80s, parti-
 cularly when Nicaragua showed in the mid-80s
 
(unconfirmed) interest in buying fighters and Cuba
 willing to supply MiG-21s.
 Honduras made several requests in mid-80's to buy
 Northrop 12 F-5Es but, when the US government
 refused to introduce new fighters in Central America,
 it turned to Israel to buy Kfirs at a cost of USD 125m,
 deal blocked by the USA because their General
 Electric J-79 engines needed US approval for export.
 
Finally, the US Congress granted authorisation in 1987 to supply 10 Northrop F-5E and 2 Northrop F-5F to Honduras at a cost of USD 75m under Military Aid, program designation Peace Bonito, including pilots and technicians training plus some spare parts. The authorisation was given
officially in order to replace the remaining Dassaut Super Mystere B.2s, 8 of which had been overhauled in USA, but actually these were kept in use till 27-01-96, when they were officially withdrawn from use, leaving the Northrop F-5 as the only fighter. 
                           
              
                                Base badge      Tiger painted on tail since 2009
Aircrafts foreseen for Honduras were repainted at Kelly AFB (USA) beginning from June 87 and delivery started from this base in December 1987, F-5E serial 4003 and F-5F serial 4001 arriving at La Ceiba, Coronel Héctor Caraccioli Moncada AB, on 15-12-87, followed by 2 aircrafts on 30-07-88, 2 on 01-11-88, 2 on 11-11-88 (possibly serials 4008/4009). Deliveries were completed on 22-01-89 with the arrival of the last 4 aircrafts. These were attached directly to the command of H Caraccioli Moncada Air Base, the Air Force has no unit designation. Pilots were trained at Williams AFB by the 425th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron.

       
    Northrop F-5E 4009 ready for delivery at Kelly AFB 21-10-88, note on tail H missing on FAH serial and
    additional USAF inscription.                                        Photo: Archive The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast

Training started immediately, but the aircrcrafts did not participate in the conflict with Nicaragua.

Armament consisted originally of bombs and 2.75 inches rockets, for air combat only the 20mm cannons were available. Existing rails for AIMP-9 Sidewinder at wingtips were kept; the missiles were received later (when/type?) .

In mid-March and December 1989 2
 Northrop F-5E of the 425th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron were each hosted at La Ceiba AB to train Honduran pilots in air-combat.

The
US government backed local political opposition pressures to retire the F-5s after the end of the end of the confrontation with Nicaragua in February 1990, undelined by restrictions to the supply of spare parts and technical support. This, and budgetary restrictions, resulted in a very low availability of the fleet till mid 1994, when most of the aircrafts were sent to Northrop's Palmdale plant for a major overhaul.
Unclear is the
collaboration with Chile; rumours that the F-5s were to be transferred to Chile proved wrong, only some engines were sent to Chile to be overhauled. Other information state that aircrafts overhaul started locally in 1996 with the help of Chilean personnel.


Northrop F-5E 4009 and camouflaged Super Mystère B2 2011 (wfu) on show at La Ceiba 12-99.
Note H Caraccioli Moncada AB badge behind the cockpit. Photo: Archive The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast

       
        Northrop F-5E 4005 with camouflaged tank seen at La Ceiba in December 1999 under a menacing
        sky.                                                                 Photo: Archive The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast

The year 1999 saw the loss
at La Ceiba of one F-5E (serial 4004) on June 3rd due to engine problems, while serial 4007 lost its canopy in flight in September 2006, without serious consequences.

There were 10 aircrafts in service in 2004 according to an US source. Another source mentions 9 were active and 2 in maintenance.


Line-up in December 1999 at La Ceiba of Northrop F-5E 4007 (note gray radar nose), 4011 with
original black radar nose and F-5F with sharkmouth nose.  
                                                                    Photo: Archive The Northrop F-5E Enthusiast

Suspension of US military aid to Honduras in 2007 brought some limitations to the use of the fleet. Airworthy aircrafts are shifted between storage and use in order to keep flying hours low.
An unusual fact happend on 03-05-07 when the Honduran president flew in a Northrop F-5F from La Ceiba AB to Tegucigalpa-Toncontin AB, a difficult airport with a short runway (1'869 m only!), in a 55 minutes flight.

At present a section of two Northrop F-5E is daily on a 5-10 minutes alarm readiness at La Ceiba AB to intercept any unauthorized aircraft overflying Honduras.

Several Northrop F-5 have overflown di Gulf of Fonseca (officially on training flights) during the tension with El Salvador and Nicaragua beginning March 2013 for the control of the Gulf. They intervened when Honduran fishing boats were stopped by Nicaraguan patrol boats the same month.

A contract for the refurbishment of the 11 Northrop F-5 fleet has been drafted
by the end of 2013; a maximum of 4 aircrafts are available any time. Maintenance problems has grounded the remainder.  A statement by the Air Force commander stated that five of the nine F-5s needed repairs before they could fly. Six Tigers are being worked on or are in the reserve according to an unofficial source published in June 2013.
Talks with Embraer
to evaluate options to upgrade the aircrafts started in May 2014 but in July 2014 it is was learned that the US government had blocked the plans.

Information needed

Delivery dates/serials.
Any additional information/correction.