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قوات الجوية المكية الأردنية - Al Quwwat al-Jawwiya Almalakiya al-Urduniya
Royal Jordanian Air Force

       Credit:  Roundels of the world

                                        Last update 07-10-2014

A discussion was kept at Washington on 08-02-66 regarding an Israeli request for Grumman A-6 Intruder. To keep the military balance in the Middle East and to convince King Hussein not to purchase no Soviet military equipment it was considered to offer either 36 second-hand F-104A/B or Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighters in increments of 12 per year, to be delivered starting from 1968. Neither the Intruders nor the Freedom Fighters were at the end delivered.


   The US goverment agreed beginning 1973 to the transfer of
   Freedom Fighter from Iran to Jordan; pilots training started in
   late 1973 at Williams AFB (USA) in view of the arrival of the
   first 20 F-5A and 4 F-5B (total only 22 according to the Air Force
   page), received in December 1974. They were used in pool by
   No.1 and No.2 Squadron at 
King Hussein AB (Mafraq) replacing
   Hawker Hunters; 31 of these last were transferred to the Royal
   Air Force of Oman between March 1975 and 1976. In addition,
   an order for 2 new-build F-5B (under the Peace Oasis programm)
   was placed with Northrop during Fiscal Year 1973, due to the
   increased fighter pilots training necessity.
   Iran requested, and was granted, US authorisation to transfer
   10 additional F-5As and 2 F-5Bs in September 1975
, bringing the
   Squadrons to full strength.


Upgrading to the Royal Jordanian Air Force equipment was planned contemporaneously to the receipt of the Iranian aircrafts.

Request was made for the supply of McDonnell F-4 Phantom for the value of USD 50m, but this was refused by the USA government. An agreement in principle was reached during a visit of King Hussein to Washington in February 1973 to supply Jordan, within the US Military Assistance Pact, with 22 next generation Northrop F-5E and  2 F-5F Tigers, scheduled to be delivered by November 1975, for both for air defence and air-to-ground attack.

A possible swap of 20 Jordanian Northrop F-5As against Moroccan bought Northrop F-5E considered in 1976 took not place, the aircraft were kept in local service.
The US government also refused in 1976 to transfer former South Vietnamese Tigers to Jordan in order to increase and speed up delivery.

A further 6 Northrop F-5B (progamm Peace Sand) were also to be added to improve training capacity, order later cancelled.

Air-to-air missiles, in the form of AIM-9J, were received, replaced from 1983 by AIM-9P-3 and AIM-9P-4. A request for Maverick air-to-ground missiles and laser-guided bombs was blocked in 1978.

Personnel was sent to Williams AFB to undergo training with USAF's 425 Fighter Squadron and an USAF Mobile Training Team came to Jordan for conversion of pilots locally; instructors continued to be trained at
Williams AFB till the end of the 80s. 

First F-5E was handed over by Northrop on 30-04-75, delivery (on board of Lochkeed C-5 Galaxy in 8-pack) of an initial batch of 40/44 F-5E and 2 F-5F started in May 1975 and ended by July 1977. First F-5E local flight was from Prince Hassan AB on 10-05-75.

    Photo: USAF
Delivery of a camouflaged Nothrop F-5E by a Douglas C-5A.   

The Royal Jordanian AF received from the USA a total of 61 single-seaters divided in several orders (22 in Fiscal Year 1974, 18 in FY 1975, 2 in FY 1977, 10 in FY 1978 and 8 in FY 1979, 1 unknown), plus 14 (12) F-5F (2 Fiscal Year 1975 aircrafts, 5 FY 1977, 3 FY 1978, 4 FY 1979) to handle conversion and continuation training. An additional former Sudanese AF Northrop F-5F was obtained beginning 1990s.

Number of aircrafts received written in black show confirmed US serials, blue numbers in brackets show aircrafts reported as received by some sources.

A request in the late 70's for General Dynamics F-16A/Bs more advanced fighters to replace the Tigers was refused by the US government. Instead it offered General Dynamics F-16/79, offer declined as less useful to the needs of the Air Force. Repeated efforts during the 80's were also vetoed by the US Congress.

Finally in July 1996 an agreement was signed between the USAF and Jordan for the donation of 12 General Dynamics F-16A and 4 F-16B Block 15OCU modified to ADF version, deliveries starting from December 1997, followed by additional 25 former Belgian and 6 former Dutch aircrafts, enabling transition of all the units on the advanced fighter.

A change of training equipment started in 2014 with the supply of 13 BAC Hawk Mk63A for the lead-in fighter training role; the remaining Tigers (apart two) were stored at the H5 airfield. It is hoped to sell them in the  USA to a private company, Tactical Air Support, in  Reno.

Squadrons history

King Hussein Air College

This was established at Mafraq AB in 1974, the Flying School was its operational center.
The Air College (name given from 1978) consisted of No.4 Squadron equipped with Scottish Aviation Bulldog Mk.125 for initial training, No.6 Squadron with  Cessna T-37B for basic training and No.2 Squadron for advanced with F-5A/B for operational conversion training. Pilots flew ca 7 months on tactics and weapons training before being considered operational.
 

No.1 Squadron The Freedom Fighters were pooled with No.2 Squadron; unfortunately there have been no photos  showing Squadron serials applied on aircrafts, thus confirming the operation by the Squadron, though the official  Royal  Jordanian AF site mentions it.
Freedom Fighters were replaced by 17 GAMD Mirage F.1EJ during 1982/83, the unit moving contemporaneously to El Azraq AB. This enabled the sale of some aircrafts: 13 Northrop F-5A (one as a spare parts source only, on board an Lockheed C-130) and 6 F-5B went to Greece, transiting Larnaca (Cyprus) on 14-11-83;



 
No.2 Squadron
was also part of the King Hussein Air College at Mafraq, the Air Force Training  Center.
 By 1983 there were 16 F-5As and 7 F-5B used for advanced training only. These could be quickly converted to  war operation in  case of a crise; it kept its Freedom Fighters till 1987, when it  was disbanded, to be reformed in 2003 with former US Air National Guard General Dynamics F-16A-20-MLU.
 Four F-5s were put on sale in 1989, one F-5B being placed on the US civilian register in July 1990 and three F-5As following in November 1995. Another F-5B (possibly an F-5A with crudely  modified cockpit) was put on display at Mafraq AB.
 The unit received CASA C.101CC from 1987 and the Freedom Fighters were withdrawn from use.

  
     
    Northrop F-5A 226 photographed on 21-04-84    
        Photo: Archive The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast

   
    Northrop F-5B 233 photographed in flight late '80s.                             Photo: via Ramez Yaghnam


No.6 Squadron (originally equipped with Cessna T-37B) exchanged its Squadron number with No.11 Squadron becoming a fighter unit Northrop F-5E/F equipped on 31-05-85 (see above), based at Azraq AB till 1988 when it was transferred to H5/ Prince Hassan AB. Its roles were reconnaissance, air defence and close air support. By 1995 its aircrafts were pooled with No 17 Sqadron at H-5 Air Base.

It was deactivated in 2010 and reactivated in 2011 (2003) at Muwaffaq Al Salti AB with 12 General Dynamics F-16A Block 20 MLU and 5 F-16B aircrafts.

    
  Prince Hassan AB 
Northrop F-5EF 648 (note overpainting of nose serial from 1148) seen on 10-04-74 at Azraq
                                                                                       Photo: Archive The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast

  No. 9 Squadron was the second Squadron to receive Tigers, also at Prince Hassan AB,
  as  replacement of Lockheed F-104A/B. Its aircrafts were camouflaged, main duty was ground was grund attack, second air defence.
  Lockheed F-104 operation ended in July 1977 with the completion of initial Northrop F-5E delivery

  The Squadron was transferred in 1992 to  Jafr/King Feisal AB.

By 2014 Northrop F-5 operation had also ceased, replaced by Falco and Camcopters UAVs

         
          Northrop F-5E 936 at
Azraq AB on 10-04-74. Note big serial on tail!
                                                                             Photo: Archive The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast

         
           Northrop F-5F 951 at Prince Hassan AB on 07-07-98
   Photo: Archive The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast



A second new unit, No.11 Squadron, was established with Tigers at King Faisal AB on 06-01-78 for air defence and ground attack, with camouflaged aircrafts. By 1983 it was still partially operational. It became a training unit equipped with Cessna T-37Bs exchanging its Squadron number with No. 6 Squadron on 31-05-85.


 A new unit No. 17 Squadron was established on 12-03-73 at Prince Hassan AB with Northrop F-5E and F-5F.
 At least 2 F-5B were transferred to No.17 Squadron from the Mafraq pool, later replaced by F-5Fs.
 
By 1995 its aircrafts were pooled with No 6 Squadron at H-5 Air Base.
 The unit has acted as an Operational Conversion Unit, before pilots were transferred to General Dynamics F-16s equipped units.
 
 Thirteen BAE Hawk Mk63A for the lead-in role were donated mid/end 2014 by the United Arab Emirates, they supplanted the Northrop F-5E/F-5F in the advanced training role;
 two Northrop F-5s remained to represent this fighters; they are not operational.

       
      
        Northrop F-5E 1708 
in metallic colours at Al Jafr on 10-06-95    Photo: unknown

   
    Northrop F-5F 1752 seen on 10-04-74 at Azraq
         Photo: Archive The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast 

Fighter Weapons Instructor School at King Feisal AB was formed in 1987 to teach weapons use to instructors based on the training syllabus of the USAF,
425th
Tactical Fighter Training Squadron
with double- and single-seaters. The school is not only limited to the F'5s weapons systems and has had
students from several Middle and Far Eastern countries.

Operation/visits abroad and Squadron exchanges
US intelligence signalised the transit of 3 Northrop F-5A with Pakistatini insegnias at Teheran (Iran) on 26-12-71 en route from Turkey to Pakistan with Pakistani crews. These are generally quoted as Jordanian aircrafts sent to help Pakistan in the war with India, but arriving too late to participate to the war and were returned a few months later.

Known visits abroad are at Greenham Common (UK) on July 1981 F-5E 1151, 1161 from No.11 Squadron and at Church Fenton (UK) air show on 13-06-83 F-5E 927, 935 from No.9 Squadron and F-5F 1751 fron No.17 Squadron.

During the Iran-Iraq 1980-1988 war Prince Hassan AB was used as a main supply route by Iraq. The F-5s, particularly the No.9 and No.17 Squadrons aircrafts at this base, were on continous alert, just in case the war would spill over to Jordan.
Rather unusual was the use
in the reconnaissance role of six aircrafts modified with camera equipped noses, operated from Prince Hassan AB.

Jordan was by 1983 practically self-sufficient in F-5 maintenance, training and operation; a high operational readiness rate of 86% was sustained. Dissimilar combat maneuvring training with GAMD Mirage F.1 were carried out regularly; J-85 engines were maintained at Mefraq AB at a local engine maintenance facility.

Northrop F-5F participated, together with USAF aircrafts, to the exercise " Shadow Hawk 87" in September 1987; F-5Es were present at the 1989 edition from 29 October to 03 November together with Jordanian GAMD Mirafe F-1s, 12 USAF Mc Donnel F-4Cs of the 122 Tactical Fighter Wing (ANG), 6 F-16C Block 25s of the 363rd Tactical Fighter Wing and 2 Boeing E-3s AWACS of the 552nd Air Warning and Control Wing, to the exercise " Shadow Hawk 90"; Jordanian aircrafts attacked the USAF aircrafts for two days and defended Jafr AB for two days, helped by the AWACS.

Jordanian neutral attitude during the 1990-1991 first Gulf War  (seen by the USA as a support to Iraq) lead to to the freezing of all US aid and to spares shortages for all US equipment, including the F-5 and C-130, forcing a reduction in essential training; the aid was anyhow restarted after King Hussein condemned Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in October 1994.

An unusual happening took place on 22-10-95 in commemoration of the peace treaty with Israel, signed exactly one year earler, when Jordanian Mirage F.1s and F-5s met with Israeli F-15s and F-16s over the Generazeth lake to overfly the Israelian cities of Tiberias, Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, followed by the Jordanian ones: Amman, Zarka and Irbid.

Foreign participation to excercises in Jordan include Jaguar fighter-bombers of No.6 Squadron RAF in excercise "Desert Cat 2006" from 01 to 14-09-06 against Jordanian F-16A/C, Mirage F.1 and F-5s based at Prince Hassan AB providing combat air defence patrols.

             

            Air-to-air picture showing aircrafts from different Squadrons in different colours/camouflages.
            Note US serial on tail of furthest aircraft.           
Photo: archive the Northrop F-5 enthusiast

Upgrade/reduction of the Tiger fleet
A deal to upgrade the systems for at least 20 aircrafts, for the value of 15m UK Pounds, was signed in 1985 with Smiths Industries to install an Head-Up Navigation and Targeting System, Radar Warning Receivers (RWR) plus Head-Up Weapon Aiming Computer (HUDWAC) and BAe Laser INS. Plans for Forward Looking InfraRed (FLIR) were delayed. Selenia ALQ-234 ECM pods were also bought.
The first upgraded Tiger flew in January 1989; initial integration problems were overcome, but these problems were replaced with funding difficulties.
Only a part of this programm was actually realised
due to financing problems; it is not known exactly how many aircrafts (at least 7; 4 sold to Brazil, 3 sold to Kenya) and with which systems (HUDWAC, RWR confirmed) it was actually realised; the modified airframes were locally designated F-5EM.

Reduction of the fleet was taken into consideration in 1993 in order to equip 23 aircrafts with new radars (APG-66T or APG-67), Radar Warning Receivers and HOTAS controls.

An attempt to sell 4 surplus Northrop F-5E to Indonesia at a cost of USD 25m was vetoed by the US government in June of that year due to Indonesian human-rights violations on Timor issue.

More luck had the sale in 1994 of 7 F-5Es to Singapore, upgraded locally to F-5S standard by Singapore Aerospace.

There were 55 Tiger aircrafts in service in 2004 according to an US source.

End of September 2007 the Brazilian Air Force announced the acquisition from Jordan of 3 Northrop F-5F, 4 Northrop F-5EM, 4 Northrop F-5E.
The first three, 2 F-5E and 1 F-5F, arrived at Sao Paulo-Guarulhos airport on 19-08-08.

A package sale to Kenya, comprising 10 Northrop F-5E, 3 F-5EM and 2 F-5F, technical assistance and maintenance services, painting of the aircrafts, installation of navigation and communication systems, packing/delivery and supply of spare parts as requested and training of 16 technicians was announced in mid-2008; price totalled USD 15.3m. In spring 2009 there were 8 Northrop F-5E and 1 F-5F parked at Amman-Marka in Kenyan camouflage but without insignia, still there by 22-09-09.

Following deactivation of the Tiger fleet, probably earlier than 2014, they were stored in flyable coditions at H5 Air Base with hope of selling them to a civilian company, TacAir. They were replaced by 13 former UAF Air Foce and Defence Force BAE Hawk Mk.63. The last flight is rumoured late 2015.

Losses
Reported dates of losses, serials not known, are as follows:
F-5A: 20-12-78, 22-07-84; F-5B: 17-10-77, 20-12-78; F-5E 02-12-92, 21-12-92.
Loss on 17-10-77 might be an F-5A; on 20-12-78 is 1 F-5A and 1 F-5B in flight collision.

F-5 type not known: 02-08-83, 24-08-83; F-5E or F-5F: 26-03-91, 24-02-99, 19 or 21-10-03, 08-11-04, 23-05-07, 17-04-14.
Losses on 02-08-83, 24-08-83 might be F-5B,