Ejercito del Aire / Spanish Air Force
Credit: Roundels of the world
F-5 bases on mainland and islands
WAR OPERATIONS / EXERCISES / SQUADRON EXCHANGES
Ala 21 is
the only unit that was called on war duty: on August 1974 and
1975 during the first part of the Spanish Sahara colony crise, when
some of its
aircraftswere transferred to Gando AB (Canary Islands) and flew
out from there and El Aaiun (Spanish Sahara) more than 500 armed
reconnaissance, show-down and
air escort flights in the desert and along the African coasts,
supported by a mobile radar on the mainland, based at El Aaiun. Flares
launching CASA-127 (Do-27) of Escuadrilla 408 illuminated the targets
during night operations.
Its replacemnt unit, Ala Mixta 46/Escuadron 464 was not engaged in any active operation and was limited to air defence,
Some of the known ones
are listed below, first operated within the Ala 21 supervision, later,
upon disbandment of this Ala, within the Ala 23 supervision:
Domestic Exercises - Ala 21
A shooting action, this time not in anger, took place on 16-05-77 when 4
CASA/Northrop SF-5A and 1 SRF-5A of the Ala participated to the
"Primavera 77-1" exercise, simulating several attacks of an (fictitious) air base at the las Bardenas shooting range together with all the range of Spanish fighters and aircrafts and helcopters.
Operation "Faron 78" took place between the 19th and the 29th October
1978 on the Mediterranean sea between Cartagena and the island of
Mayorca with the participation of 3 CASA/Northrop SF-5A, attacking ships
in a convoy.
Another exercise, "Orellana 78", took place in November of the same year: invasion through the Pyrenees mountains was countered by defensive forces. Ala 21 operating from Moron AB participated to the exercise with 5 CASA/Northrop SF-5A/SRF-5A and SF-5B between the 21st and 24th, together with 5 CASA HA.200 Saeta, operating armed reconnaissance and attack missions.
CASA/Northrop SRF-5A A.9-070/211-70 with underbelly SUU-20 rocket and
practice bomb dispenser.
Photo: Archive The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast
1979 saw the participation of 3 CASA/Northrop SF-5A and 1 SRF-5A (together with 4 CASA HA.200 Saeta) to the exercise "Operacion Velero 79", involving photographic reconnaissance on targets and simulated ground-attacks on June 25th and 26th.
"Otono 83" exercise on 29-11-83 was the attack to a simulated air-base
on the Bardenas range by Casa/Northrop SF-5A/SRF-5A of the Ala 21,
SF-5B of the Escuela de Reactores and GAMD Mirage IIIE, McDonnel F-4C,
Mirage F.1 of the various Alas. The Casa/Northrop SRF-5A undertook reconnaissance missions, SF-5B illuminating the target and SF-5A attacking targets on the base with rockets, bombs and napalm.
Exercise "Velero 84" took place between the 8th and the 12th April 1984 with the participation of two ground attack Ala 21 Casa/Northrop SF-5A detached to Talavera AB.
It participated to "Sinkex" (attack on a ship with live armament) exercise with 3 CASA/Northrop F-5B operated as laser illuminators for McDonnel EF-18 on the 12-12-91; this was repeated to the benefit of McDonnel EF-18 and Mirage F.1 during the 1992 edition on September 17th.
CASA/Northrop 18 SF-5A A.9-052/21-12 equipped with one TDU-10B target dart accompanied
by two Mirage F.1EE of the
46 Wing Mirage F.1EE on an air-to-air shooting session.
Exact date is not known but is between 1987 (when codes were changed to show the Ala number)
and October 1992.
Photo: Tomas Asensio
International exercises - Ala 21
exercise with European and US Air Forces started when Spain officially
joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in May 1982,
contemporaneuosly collaboration started with friendly North African
Between 11th and 22nd March 1985 the Ala partecipated to the French air defence exercise, together with Spanish GAD Mirage IIIEE, McDonnel F-4C, Mirage
F.1 and other aircrafts (about 400) from France, Canada, the
Netherlands, Italy, Germany and the USAF
"Dragon Hammer 89"
Goal of the exercise was to test collaboration between various NATO Forces.
Four CASA/Northrop SF-5A participated between 20th
April and 02nd of May 1989 (together with soldiers, aircrafts and ships
from Italy, France, the Netherlands, United Kingdon, USA) to this NATO Air Force/Army/Navy exercise. Their duty was to attack Navy units in the Mediterranean Sea.
exercise was/is devoted to combined training of commands and pilots of the
two nations, air combat (both with similar aircrafts and dissimilar
ones), ground support and SAR; Northrop
F-5s and GAMD Mirage F.1 have been operating on both sides,
McDonnel EF-18 fighters on the Spanish and Alpha Jets on the Moroccan side.
The first edition had taken place on October 30th and 31st 1984 with the participation of 2 CASA/Northrop SF-5B deployed to Meknes AB from Ala 73.
Ala 21 participated to the second edition between the 26th and 28th June 1985, while the 1988 edition took place the 2nd and 3rd November.
Squadron Exchanges - Ala 21
Two CASA/Northrop SRF-5A and two SF-5A went for an Squadron exchange with the Mirage 5BR equipped
Belgian AF 42e Escadrille to Bierset AB mid July 1987, exchange repeated in April 1989 by
three CASA/Northrop SF-5A and two SRF-5A.
flight picture of CASA/Northrop SF-5A AE.9-052/21-12 and AE.9-039
still with the old 211-39 code while on
exchange exercise at Bierset AB
(Belgium) in April 1989. Photo: Archive The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast
Germany, RAF Laarbruch was visited end of October 1988 by 3 Casa
SRF-5A, 1 SF-5B in an Squadron exchange with Tornado FGR1 equipped 2nd
Squadron. Another Squadron exchange with the same RAF unit took place in October 1991.
Two Casa SF-5B visited on 29th June 2004 the Beauvechain AB air show.
All aircrafts and duties were taken over by Ala 23 on disbandment of Ala 21 in October 1992.
Domestic Exercises - Ala 23
Ala 23's CASA/Northrop
SF-5s towing targets have been used for regular, monthly air-to-air shooting exercises to the benefit of all other Spanish fighters from
Albacete AB and Gando AB (exercises "DACT").
Live armament exercise "Sinkex" was repeated on 05-04-95 with the participation of the two-seaters as illuminators.
"Tormenta", Spain's main air-to-ground exercise using the las Bardenas range, saw the participation of CASA/Northrop
SF-5A and SF-5B/M with bombs and rocket attacks as well as laser illuminations (two-seaters) to the benefit Mirage F.1M, McDonnel EF-18 during several editions.
Herewith a list of known dates when CASA/Northrop
between June 8th and 9th 1993 with 3 CASA/Northrop
SF-5A (ground-attack) and 2 CASA/Northrop
SF-5B (laser illuminators).
Only two-seaters, based at Zaragoza AB, were used from 1994 on: on May 25th and 26th 1994 with 4 aircrafts; on 05-04-1995; on September 11th 1996; in November 2003; in 2006 between June 11th and 14th; in 2007 with 5 F-5Ms as laser illuminators for attacking GAMD Mirage
F.1 only (McDonnell Douglas EF-18s had been equipped with their own
laser designator); in 2008 between 15th and 17th Apri; in 2009 between 08th and 11th June with 3 CASA/Northrop
F-5M; in 2011 between 06 and 16 April; in 2012 during the last two weeks of March; in 2013 between 25 and 28 February.
Photo: Nestor la Orden
Line-up of bombs laden CASA/Northrop participating to "Tormenta 07" exercise
"Acuario" exercise was established to train Forward Air Controllers; two or three CASA/Northrop SF-5B/Ms have attended regularely every year.
2000 tok place on November 22nd, 23rd and 24th to test the air defence
of the Canary Islands; 6 CASA/Northrop F-5s of Ala 23 were present at
Gando AB, together with McDonnell Douglas EF-18s, Mirage F.1s, tankers and
Not really an exercise, but a dissimilar combat exercise, was the first mission (on 16-07-04) of an CASA/Northrop SF-5M against a recently delivered Spanish two-seater EF-2000 Typhoon.
International Exercises - Ala 23
Spanish/Moroccan "Atlas" and "Navimaes" exercises continued periodically, every two years, (with exeptions) alternatively in each country.
details are known about the 1993 till 1996 editions; Morocco hosted the
1997 edition, while the 1998 and 1999 editions didn't take place.
Spanish Mirage F.1, McDonnel EF-18 and CASA/NORTHROP
SF-5B+ from Talavera la Real AB together with 3 Moroccan Northrop F-5E,
Alpha Jets; Mirage F.1 were present at the 2000 edition between the
16th and 20th Otober.
The 2002 edition took place in Morocco from the 7th till the 12th of April;
three CASA/NORTHROP F-5 went to Meknes AB, five GAMD Mirage
F.1 to Sidi Slimane AB. They exercised Dissimilar Air Combat, Army support and Defence
Counter Air with 4 local Northrop F-5E and 3 GAMD Mirage F.1.
Between 28th June
and 02 July 2004 five Northrop F-5E/F, five Mirage F.1CH/EH, five Alpha Jet were hosted at Talavera la
Real AB and Los Llanos AB, which participated to "Atlas 04" with 6 Spanish CASA/Northrop SF-5M, 4 EF-18 oF Ala 12 and 6 Mirage F.1 of Ala 14.
2008 it was again Spain's turn to hoXt at Talavera la Real
AB2 Northrop F-5E and 2 Northrop F-5F between May 26th and 30th, together with 3 Alpha Jet and 3 Mirage F.1 based for the exercise at Albacete AB, exercising with 4 Spanish CASA/Northrop SF-5M, 4 Mirage F.1 and 4 McDonnel EF-18.
Atlas edition 2012 saw the participation, between June 4th and 8th, of 4 Spanish CASA/Northrop
SF-5M and 4 Moroccan F-5E, flying low level and air combat from
Talavera la Real AB together with 4 Moroccan Alpha Jet and Mirage F.1
belonging to both countries.
This is mainly low-level navigation and air combat exercise.
SF-5B of the 231 Squadron participated to the 1992 edition, no further
details are known, while the 1993 edition saw the participation of one
Moroccan unit and Escuadron 141, both equipped with Mirage F.1, but no
Exercise 1995 took again place at Talavera la
Real AB with Spanish 231 Squadron and Moroccan Northrop F-5s attending.
Spanish Mirage F.1, CASA/Northrop SF-5M and McDonnell Douglas EF-18
together with Moroccan Alpha Jet, Northrop F-5E and Mirage F.1 were
present at the yeat 2000 edition between the 16th and the 20th of
October.The year 2001 saw the arrival on September 17th at Talavera la Real AB of 4 Moroccan Northrop F-5E which remained till September 21st.
Meknes AB (Morocco) hosted 3 CASA/Northrop
SF-5M between the 7th and 12 April 2012, while 5 Spanish Mirage F.1
were based at Sidi Ahmed AB, all challenged during the exercise by 4
Moroccan Mirage F.1 and 5 Moroccan Northrop F-5E. Composite Air
Operations, DACT and Ground Attack missions took placE.
2005 edition took place from June 17th till 21st at Talavera la Real AB
with the participation of CASA/Northrop SF-5M and 4 Moroccan Northrop
"Navimaes 06" brouth between July 24th and 28th two Moroccan Northrop
F-5E and 2 Northrop F-5F to Talavera la Real AB in order to exercise
with four CASA/Northrop F-5M and Four McDonnellDouglas EF-18.
was denominated exchange excercises with Northrop F-E of the Tunisian
AF between Talavera la Real and Bizerte-Sidi Ahmed AB. It was the turn
of Tunesian AF F-5s to come to Talavera la Real AB from the 11th till
the 15th Septmber 2000, returning to Talavera la Real AB in October
2001 (at least one single- and two double-seaters) as well as in 2004
and in September 2005.
"Dapex" This is the main Spanish AF air-to-air, air-to-ground SAR, CSAR exercise, the Northrop SF-5 regularly participating to it.
CASA/Northrop SF-5 participated during November 1993 to this year's edition together with Spanish McDonnel RF-4C, Mirage F.1, McDonnel/Douglas EF-18A and Portuguese Chance Vought A-7, Alpha Jet as well as French, Mirage F.1 and Jaguar.
The 2004 edition, to which 6 Northrop F-5B+ participated, was named "Dapex-Volcanex" for the presence of other European countries and took place between 27-09 and 08-10-04.
The 2005 edition 27-09-05 till 08-10-05 with 5 CASA/Northrop SF-5BM detached to Santiago de Compostela AB , while DAPEX 2006 was held in November with the participation of at least two, DAPEX 2007 from the 19th to the 23rd of November.
A single CASA/Northrop F-5M participated to the international "Operational Integration" exercise at Kleine Brogel on 16-07-07, meeting Czech
Saab JAS-39C, RAF Typhoon F.2 and Tornado, French AF and Navy Rafale and
German Tornado; Greek McDonnell F-4, General Dynamics F-16, LTV
A-7C/TA-7C and Belgian, Danish, Italian F-16s; it remained on place for the airshow on 17-07-07.
"Sirio" (air defence of the mainland and Spanish islands) took place between 03rd and 7th November 1997; Escuadron 231 operated 6 CASA/Northrop SF-5B+
from Lanzarote AB in conjunction with all types of Spanish fighters,
transports and tankers together wit French, Italian and
CASA/Northrop F-5B+ participated to the 2001 edition, together with
other Spanish AF and Navy, Portueguese, French and USAF fighters,
tankers, AEW aircrafts between the 5th and 10th May.
Squadron Exchanges - Ala 23
Squadron exchanges have been very numerous. Hereunder some of them:
One CASA/Northrop SF-5B and one CASA/Northrop SRF-5A visited Volkel AB (Netherlands)
12-25th June 1983.
CASA/Northrop SRF-5A participated to a Squadron Exchange with the
Tornado equipped 32nd Jagdbomber Geschwader (Fighter Bomber Wing) at
Lechfeld (Germany) between August 16th and 25th 1988.
Fiat G-91T of the Italian 60th Aerobrigata visited Talavera la Real AB
in 1989; from June 23rd til 27th 1997 followed a visit from the 61st
Aerobrigata, this time by four Aermacchi MB.339 The yeat 1991 saw an
exchange divided in two parts: four CASA/Northrop SF-5B of Ala 23 went
from the 3rd to the 10th of June to RAF Lossiemouth for the first part,
meeting the Jaguar equipped RAF 226 Operational Conversion Unit; this
unit came for the second part to Talavera la Real AB from the 19th to
the 23rd of August with 5 Jaguars.
Air Bases were visited in 2004 two times by two upgraded
CASA/Northrop SF-5M: Beauvechain AB in June, Kleine Brogel in July.
Fürstenfeldbruck AFB (Germany) was visited from 13 till 21-07-92 by 4 CASA/Northrop SF-5B for an exchange with Jagdbomber Geschwader 49 (Jabo 49).
Beginning 1995 3 CASA/Northrop SRF-5A and 2 SF-5B went to Treviso-S. Angelo AB (Italy), visiting the 2° Stormo.
The Italian AF came several times to Talavera AB for training Squadrons exchanges: Aermacchi MB.339 of the 213 Squadron on 07-14 June 2004; the 20th Squadron with 4 of its Lockheed TF-104G had visited earlier (20th till 29th June 2001).
Alpha Jets from Cazaux AB (France)
were hosted at
la Real AB
several times: three Belgian ones
from 12th till 17th March
four French ones between June 13th
and 17th 2011.
Alpha Jet 705-MF in front of a line-up
of CASA/Northrop F-5M+ at Talavera
Photo: Spanish AF
Two CASA/Northrop SF-5B participated to the Ramstein AFB (Germany) open-day in June 1980.
The upgraded trainers went also abroad showing the flag at several ones:
one SF-5M participated to the "European Trainer Meet" at Beauvechain AB (Belgium) on 29-06-04;
another to Dijon AB show on 29-06-08 and two aircrafts to Florennes AB (Belgium) airshow on 05-07-08;
one came to the Koksijde AB (Belgium) airshow on 04/05-07-09.