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            اک فضائیہ - Pak Fiza'ya - Pakistan Air Force
Roundel                            Tail markings            Credit:  Roundels of the world

                                        Last update 05-08-2013

Pakistan is the only unofficial Northrop F-5A operator. It received three aircrafts shortly after the end Indo-Pakistan war.

INITIAL PLANS
Pakistan AF Canadair F-86 Mk.6 and
Shenyang F-6s (Mig-19) had had contacts with Iranian Northrop F-5A in two joint aerial combat exercises by 1970, when the US government offered in June six replacement Lockheed F-104A, similar to the ones in Pakistani strength, or, as an alternative, 12 Lockheed F-104G or Northrop F-5A if Pakistan retired the 6 F-104A on strength, this on a cash basis.
Pakistan countered requesting in October 1970 a "full Squadron" of F-5s, giving up its 6 Lockheed F-104A and the request for 7 replacement Martin B-57s. Following this request the US Goverment gave its approval to supply 19 Northrop F-5As.
These plans were dashed by the arms embargo set by the USA due to internal unrest and the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971.


UNOFFICIAL LIBYAN PROCUREMENT/TURKISH OFFER
According to an US Embassy in Teheran report three F-5As with Pakistani markings and piloted by Pakistani pilots transited Teheran-Mehrabad airport on 26-12-71.
The origin of therse aircrafts is quite puzzling. one of tis pilot indicaded the the aircrafts had come from USA; according to an Northrop representative their serials corresponded to Libyan Freedom Fighters at the time in storage in California.
An US enquiry made in Turkey resulted in the information that this country had authoriesed the overfly of its territory by three Libyan AF Northrop F-5As (allegedely flown by Pakistani piots) en-route to Pakistan with refuelling stops at Antalya AB and Diyarbakir AB. Copy of all these telegrams can be seen here.

The statement made by the Pakistani pilot is 99% wrong as the embargoed aircrafts were handed over to South Vietnam in 1972 at McClellan AFB in California and it would be too complicated to send them to Pakistan via Europe and bring them quicly back to California.
Interesting is the Turkish information, which is most probably exact. What is missing is if additional aircrafts passed en-route to Pakistan. It seems anyhow that the aircrafts returned to their country of origin on 20-02-72, after trials at Sardogha or Masroor AB.

The Pakistan Air Force museum gives the name of the three Pakistani pilots flying the aircrafts, see here. The attached design shows camouflaged aircrafts. Libyan ones were not, Iranian were the only ones in the area at the time, but this might be a mistake made by the painter.

Turkey was prepared to supply 6 Freedom Fighters to Pakistan during the Pakistan-India war in December 1971 according to US official sources, but this didn't take place.

AFGHANISTAN WAR - US OFFER
A second chance to obtain F-5s came with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Pakistan requested the delivery of General Dynamics F-16s to counter the massive Soviet AF threat. The USA offered only lower performance fighter, either Northrop F-20s, Northrop F-5E/F-5Fs or Fairchild A-10s, offer that was rejected by Pakistan, that finally obtained the desired General Dynamics F-16s.