Aerea Brasileira / Brazilian
Roundel Fin flash Credit: Roundels of the world
Last update 28-07-2021
Brazil expressed for the first time at
the beginning of 1965 interest
to buy 24 Northrop F-5A and F-5B to be delivered starting in 1966, but,
as for so many South American countries, no
export authorisation was
granted by the US government. The Chinese
government offered in 1965 F-7M Airguards (a copy of the
Selection was in preference of Douglas A-4F, SEPECAT Jaguar, HS Harrier
Mk.50 and Fiat G-91. A provisional total of 48 Lockeed TF-33A were instead
country changed its air doctrine from ground attack to air defence of
the whole territorium in 1967, starting with a chain of radars.
of a new aircraft to supplant the remaining Lockheed TF-33A used in
the fighter/ground support duties was taken again under consideration
during 1967 and a commission (Commissaos de Estudos
para Aviao de Interceptaçao) was
to find out the best suitable fighter.
According to a local
paper discuusions were held with Canada for the purchase of 15 Canadair
CF-5 to be delivered 1968, without results (probably a fake news as never reported locally).
The Northrop F-5 was evaluated again, sale of which was reluctantly
approved by the US governement due to political issues, but quickly
eliminated due to
insufficent performances. Considered were the
GAMD Mirage III, English
Lockheed F-104G and the Saab J-35. The Mirage IIIE was finally selected
July 1973 was officially announced
of the Northrop F-5E, after having considered since 1971 the Fiat
G-91Y, GAMD Mirage IIIE, Lightning Mk.55, Saab J-35 and Mc Donnel F-4
the Air Force). A demonstration by F-5E serial 01401 was given on September 1973 at Embraer's factory of Sao José dos Campos. Selected and ordered were additionally 16 Mirage IIID/EBR.
On 30-09-73 a contract was signed with Northrop and in October 1974 36 Northrop F-5E "Tigers" single-seaters
Northrop F-5B two-seaters
(the Northrop F-5F was not yet built),
without engines and other
equipment, were ordered under the program
"Peace Amazon" at a cost of USD 115m.Though Brazil preferred a
commercial contract to gain procurement and management experience, a
Foreign Military Sales credit
of USD 72.3
millions was arranged for part-payment and further equipment
for 47.7 millions was
acquired separately under direct purchase. They were to equip
2 Esquadraos (Squadrons) at Santa Cruz AB and
1° Esquadrao at
AB; two Northrop F-5B were to be attached to each Squadron for
Thirty Brazilian Air Force
personnel worked for more than two years at the Hawthorne plant to gain
experience on latest manufacturing techniques and to maintain Brazilian interests. First Brazilian aircraft was a
aircrafts were to be possibly procured to re-equip the 4° GrAv and
the 10° GtAv, but usual budget restrictions made this impossible.
Second thoughts about the purchase of the F-5Bs, due to funding
problems and the Air Forces preference to buy the new Northrop
more compatibility, had aroused in 1974 but US officials convinced the
Brazilians that the aircafts were sorely needed because the majority
its pilots were to transit from vintage or low performance vehicles,
like the Lockheed T-33A, the Cessna T-37C and the Embraer T-26
Bandeirante, to the high performance F-5E.
To still save money and
to trimm requirements for ground technicians the FAB decided at the
beginning of 1975 to equip only two Squadrons, both at Santa Cruz AB,
at least for that year.
Air defence was foreseen as main mission, ground attack as
secondary mission. A reconnaissance capability was also foreseen, for which 6 (some sources mention 4) camera
noses were procured, 12 aircrafts had
provision for these noses. The
noses were received in 1975 when they were installed on four Tigers;
a reconnaissance course was given by two expert USAF pilots at
Santa Cruz AB to 1°/14° pilots. The aircrafts
to Canoas AB upon completition of the runway remaining at disposal for the 1°/14° Escuadrao, but the idea was to create the 2°/14°
Escuadrao in the same hangar as 1°/14° Escuadrau to operate
4 reconnaissance aircrafts. The programm was cancelled, the noses were sold as scrap and the reconnaissance duty was transferred to the Embraer/Aermacchi A-1 based at Santa Maria
On 15-07-75 an off-set deal for a total
value of USD 1.2m covering the
production of 150 sets of tail units and underwing/center-fuselage weapons pylons for Tigers built in USA,
was also signed by the Brazilian
was to undertake all major overhauls of Brazilian F-5's. Discussions
for the possibility of licence manufacture of the entire airframe
as follow-up of the EMB-326 were also held, without exit.
Underwing pylon buit under
licence by Embraer
agreement between General Electric and the Brazilian company Celma at
Petropolis (RJ) provided for the overhaul of J-85-GE-13D and -21
Depot and light overhaul of the aircrafts was to be
performed by the Air Force's Sao Paulo Air Depot, while S. Cruz AB was
to take care of field and light maintanance.
A first group of 5 pilots started training in USA, at Williams AFB with the 425th
Tactical Fighter Squadron, during the summer
of 1974 a complete course lasting six months; other
followed during September 1974.
Of these, 6 qualified as instructors to
form a training unit at S. Cruz AB, using F-5Bs. The first intake
completed training by 12-74 having flown around 80 hours. Later Brazilian pilots, sometimes having followed only
a 16 weeks' course and with minimal
F-5 experience, were in charge for the transfer from USA to Brazil.
checks at the Northrop Palmdale plant before delivery, Northrop F-5B
F-5B 4805 a Williams AFB in May 1975. Squadron badge is not yet painted
four underwings pylons and unusual Brazilian flag on rudder.
Photo: Archives F-5 Enthisast
On 28-02-75 Northrop handed over the
first 3 F-5B at
Palmdale to the Brazilian AF, arrivals in Brazil began in March 1975, when
the first 3 Northrop F-5B (serials 4800/4801/4802) landed at Galeao AB
followed on 13-05-75 by the final 3 F-5Bs, always at Galeao AB.
flight of all Northrops' followed the route Palmdale/Williams
AFB/Kelly AFB/Craig AFB/Homestead AFB/San Juan (Portorico)/Port of
Spain/Panama before finally landing in Brazil at Belem, flying on to
and Galeao Air Base (Rio de Janeiro).
initially from there and from July 1975 from Anapolis AB, as the runway at Santa Cruz AB was very short,
barely long enough for the Lockeed T-33A. Transfer to Santa Cruz
was on 03-10-75 when the
runway had been
prolongued to 2'450
Northrop F-5E serial 4850 seen 1975 in Californai armed with Sidewinder
F-5E 4823 at Williams AFB in May 1975, shortly before
(version never adopted by the Brazilian AF),
without air-to-air refuelling probe. Photo: Northrop
Photo: Archives F-5 Enthusiast
Next delivery were F-5E 4850/4851/4852. The first 2 landed
at Galeao AB on 17-06-75
(some sources state there were four aircrafts delivered on 12-06-75) but serial 4852 was lost at Belford Rox shortly before
landing, due to
deliveries followed at approximately four a month until 28th February
1976, when serials 4852 to 4855 safely landed at Santa Cruz AB (some sources state 12-02-76);
delivery were in-flight, starting from
Williams AFB with twelve stops,
including Zandery (Surinam) and Anapolis, ending at Rio de
Janeiro-Galeâo, accompanied by a Lockheed C-130H support aircraft.
See the serials page for additional known delivery details.
Line-up of first batch Northrop F-5E at Santa Cruz AB Photo: Brazilian AF Northrop F-5E 4834
of the 1°/14° Esquadrao, fully armed with two Mectron MAA-1 and four 250 lbs bombs
Two Lockheed KC-130H were bought to extend the rather limited radius of
action of the Tiger; the F-5E's
were equipped with air-to-air refuelling probes, but only 13 probes
were fitted in USA, the rest in 1976 after
Chilean offer (unconfirmed and denied by Chile) to transfer its own
F-5Fs in exchange for Brazilian responsability to train Chilean F-5
pilots was not accepted as politically unacceptable due to Chilean
The acquisition of additional second-hand aircrafts was taken into consideration during 1980, without follow-up. A Chinese barter offer of CAIC F-7 each in exchange of 2 Embrer Tucano during the 1980's was not accepted.
28-12-85 an unexpected announcement from Brasilia revealed that
approval had been given for the procurement of a further Northrop
F-5E/F to make good attrition and in order to concentrate all
at Santa Cruz AB. These were to be completely
An appealing offer was received from South
Korea, where the airframes would have been modified to zero time and
updated to latest standard, but unfortunately not accepted due to costs
problems. Further investiga-
tions to obtain lower priced fighters led to
the evaluation of Chinese F-7M Airguards and Mirage III from several
sources, all dropped for various reasons.
US government offer in 1988 for 22 F-5E and 4 F-5F for USD 113.5m (named programm
"Peace Amazon II") was successful. Eleven of these came from former USAF
aggressor Squadrons in USA, whose disband-
ment was started in August
1988 and completed in April 1989, and fifteen from the 425th Squadron,
disbanded in April 1989. They were not equipped with an air-to-air refuelling probe. The aircrafts were used first to
Brazilian pilots in USA.
The first five departed from Nellis AFB on 29-09-88, the last ones on 23-08-89, all from Homestead AFB with final destination Canoas AB in five waves. Brazilian pilots ferried them in 8 stretches, supported by a KC-137
precious to keep
contact with the civilian air traffic authorities along the route as
the fighters were not equipped with VHF radios.
The fourth wave left end April 1989 and was formed by Northrop F-5E FAB
4858, 4861, 4871, 4873 all in original Air Defence Command colours;
they arrived Canoas AB on 10-05-89 (due to some mishaps on route)
flying from AFB Homestead to Nassau/Roosevelt Roads/Ilha Margarita
(Venezuela)/Boa Vista (Brazil)/Manaus/
Belém/Fortaleza/Salvador/Rio de Janeiro/Canoas.
Unfortunately these "new" aircrafts were in poor conditions, needed a
thorough overhaul and the installation of a VOR, GPS and VHF radio.
The last Northrop F-5F, serial 4807, seen in USA with its former serial
with dual Brazilian/USAF serials 4859/1386 at Williams on
Northrop F-5E 4873 seen from the accompanying Boeing KC-137 on its delivery flight near to
Photo: archives The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast
NAS Roosevelt Roads (Puerto Rico) in April 1989, still in USAF colours, but Brazilian serial.
"new" aircrafts went to the 1°/14° GAv at Canoas AB (Porto
Alegre), the only Tiger Squadron now exclusively tasked with air
defence, though the basic Emerson APQ-153 radar was of limited value.
aircrafts were returned to the 1° Grupo de
4857 4870 in original USAF colours, as delivered, in use by the 1°/14°
AIM-9B Sidewinder were requested at the time of original purchase,
apart from standard 2x20mm cannons each with 250 rounds, conventional
500 lbs/1000 lbs bombs, napalm bombs, air-to-ground rockers, but
refused from the USA government, which finally agreed to sell them in
1980. They could be seen till 2007 at F-5Es wingtips but were non
operational and were only use for structural stabilization. The new,
manoevrable, locally produced Mectron MAA-1 Piranha missile
is in operation since 2004 for short range combat.
Photo: JA Moraes de Oliveira Filho
4870 with wingtip Mectron MAA-1 Piranha, underfuselage cokpit painted on,
big tanks and training
former GE Training Center Compuscene III simulator with visual display
dome was bought at the beginning of the 1990s to lower training costs,
keep airframes flying hours and maintenance costs low.
Northrop F-5B saga
Operation of the early Northrop F-5B was slowed downwhen the more advanced F-5F were received.
By the end of July 1995 only 2 F-5B remained operational. The Brazilian Northrop F-5Bs were withdrawn from use
on 22-05-96; they were all up for sale and transferred to Campo de Marte for storage.
rather unhappy story followed. Former Brazilian AF colonel Gustavo
Adolfo Franco Pereira bought the 5 aircrafts at an auction in 1996 for the
price of USD 3.1 millions and paid a deposit of 155 millions Reals,
action financed by an American friend, Richard Boulais. Mr Pereira
even bought an hangar at Canpo de Marte to store the trainers. The
auction was cancelled auctions, a direct sale was also done
and again cancelled;
the aircrafts were never handed over to the
(almost) new owner.
The main problem was the "end user certificate"
required by the USA as the aircafts were of US origin, need for which
the buyer didn't recognise, as the US law regarding it was approved in
1976 while the aircrafts
were bought by Brazil in 1973.
In the meantime the two-seaters had lost
their serials and any inscription, were coded from 1 to 5 and
repainted, with the upper surfaces dark grey, the lower surfaces in
They were used as mobile static exhibition objects, as shown on this picture taken at Campo de Marte on 23-10-05.
Pereira discussed its rights as owner with the Air Force ever since
unsecsful sale was foreseen by USA broker as FOB Mojave, total less
than 2600 hours total time, Disassembled and professonally crated,
engines not included, military aviionics, all weapons and weapons
systems removed prior to delivery.
He applied in December 2006 to the Brazilian justice to obtain
either the aircrafts or refund of his down-payment. The Federal Court
judged that the aircrafts still belonged to the Air Force
and they were put on exhibition at various places.
All aircraft were temporarely stored at Campo de Marte, seen here together with Northrop F-5Es One,
repainted in the original 1975 colours, initially coded "01" and
later serialled 4800,
at PAMA-Sao Paulohile on mainternance.
Photo: unknown was assigned to the Museu Aerospacial at Campo
dos Alfonsos and
handed-over on 18-08-06.
Here it is seen at PAMA-SP being prepared for exposition.
of others are known: serial 4802, camouflaged, as a travelling
exhibit; 4804 mountd on a pole in Rio de Janeiro-Galeao airport; serial 4805 at Santa Cruz AB mounted on a pole, camouflaged.
Fleet upgrading and search for additional aircrafts
A new project regarding the
rest of the fleet was launched during the year 2001: upgrading the
available aircrafts to a fourth generation fighter standard; this
resulted in the Embraer/Northrop F-5EM and F-5FM models.
You can read
details of the project under the Northrop F-5 Enthusiast page titled upgrades.
Air Force also realised that the number of trainers (3
F-5F) was insufficent for conversion and refresher training of new and
As the Embraer/Aermacchi EMB-326 was officially withdrawn from use on
02-10-10 new pilots passed directly from the Embraer A-29 Super
Tucano to the Embraer/northrop F-5FM, necessitating an greater number of this last.
Additional new aircrafts (both in double- and singleseater
form) were to be operated by a new Operational Conversion Unit. During
the year 2002 it looked among other F-5 operators for the best
aircrafts available for sale.
A first offer of Saudi Arabian Tigers by Boeing, demanding the purchase of 2 F-5Es for every F-5F purchased was rejected. Swiss
top maintained Northrop F-5Es were also up for sale, but no F-5F was
available. Help came
from Northrop/Grumman's subsidiary Tiger Century
Aircraft which had already projected to convert China/Taiwan AF single-
to double-seaters and offered to convert 8 of the 16 Swiss aircrafts
Memorandums of Understanding were signed on
30-09-02 and 15-10-02 between the Swiss "Gruppe für
Rüstungsdienste" (Armament Group) and the Brazilian AF. Price for
each aircraft was to be USD 0.5m "as-is". The
Brazilian AF cancelled,
in a change of mind, the plan to modify single- to two seaters and
requested on 14-01-03 the sale of Swiss F-5Fs. An offer for 2 F-5Fs and
14 F-5Es was of no interest to the Brazilian side. Finally,
01-04-03, a new search for 8 F-5F airframes was started with Singapore,
Korea, China/Taiwan as well as Saudi Arabia.
Three Northrop F-5F and
six F-5E from Saudi Arabia were selected and a
contract was signed on 29-12-05 between the Brazilian Aeronautical
Commission in Washington and the company C&C International, acting
mediator, for the price of USD 24m to be paid in three instalments
of USD 10m in 2006, USD 13m in 2007 and USD 1m in 2008. Brazilian
pilots were to fly them from Riyadh to Recife via Dakar and other
No information about the status of the deal or the arrival
in Brazil of these aircrafts was given until the end of September 2009,
when, surprise!, an official announcement informed that a contract had
been signed for
the acquisition of 4 Northrop F-5E, 4 F-5EM (which had
received locally a limited upgrade) and 3 Northrop F-5F from Jordan for USD
21m, through the mediator Jordan Aeronautical Systems Company.The
gave also information about the cancelled Saudi purchase:
the aircrafts were in poor condition; there was difficulty in obtaining
"end-user" certificate needed according to the original pruchasing
contract and the possi-
bility that these planes might not be available,
as they were part of the new Saudi Eurofighter purchase contract.
first batch of 3 F-5Es arrived at Sao Paulo-Guarulhos
airport on 19-08-08 on board an Volga-Dnepr Air Lines AL
An-124-100, still in Jordanian colours, together with several spare parts, inclusive wing
transferred to Campo dos Alfonsos AB for maintenance. It
was planned to invest 276 millions Reals for modifications, in order
to keep them operational at least for another 15 years.
Northrop F-5E still in desert camouflage, with last two of Brazilian
almost unreadable Jordanian and USAF serials at PAMA Campo dos Alfonsos
Parque Material Aeronautico de Marte provides
full structural and systems maintenance/overhaul on the Tiger, while complete
General Electric J-85 engine maintenance has been undertaken since 2002
by Focal (RJ).
By the end of 2012 18 Tigers had been upgraded.The
46th and last first batch upgraded Northrop F-5EM was delivered
to Santa Cruz AB,
07-03-13; contract to upgrade the former
Jordanian aircrafts was signed in 2012. The first ex Jordanian single-seater
Brazil in October 2013, while 2 double-seaters were delivered in
Defence of the Northern region aound the capital (Brasilia) was assured by some Embraer/Northrop
F-5s from other
to Anapolis AB when the early retirement took place (the end of 2013)
of the Mirage 2000s used by the 1°
Grupo de Defensa Aerea at
(Brasilia). The mentioned Tigers
remained until the local pilots were re-trained on the
Embraer/Northrop F-5EM and some own
aircrafts were delivered.
Photo: Overfuselage/wings view of an Embraer F-5EM in new camouflage.
In 2011 it was decided that only
three of all the eleven former Jordanian Northop F-5E/F were to be
upgraded to Embraer/Northrop F-5FM standard, due to operational
(mainly) reasons. Only one
had been delivered in
October 2014, additional two Embraer/Northrop Embraer/Northrop F-5FM were to be received in October and November 2017.
last (serial 4812) former Jordanian Northrop F-5F
being worked on at PAMA Sao
on 16-10-11. In the background single-seater 4810.
(as of 2012) of the first Embraer/Northrop F-5EMs was planned by 2017 but indefinitely postponed. In the meantime TAP Manutençao
e Engenheria Brasil takes care of base level
inspections/ maintenance of
the Tigers; the first was delived to the company at the end of 2013 and re-delivered to the Air Force on 24-03-14 at Campo de Marte AB (PAMA SP) after having received the 600 hours inspection.
Air-to-Air misiles for the Northrop F-5E and its training.
missiles have in Brazil a tortous history. It was easrly realised that
they improve dramatically capability of fighter aircrafts, but exact
purchasing/use of them is sketchy and
details below might not be 100% exact.
Any further information would be
1975 AIM-9B Sidewinders (both active and training missiles) were
purchhased in 1975 and retired in the 90s; they served only to
balance the wings of the aircrafts, never being used operationally or for training
A project to replace AIM-9B with a local short range, infra-red, air-to-air missile was started in March 1976 at the Brazilian AF own Instituto de Aeronautica e Espaço (IAE) at Sao José dos Campos (at present named DCTA).
It was named MAA-1
Piranha and was equivalent to third generation US AIM-9L Sidewinder or IAI Typhon 3. Unfortunately this project had to overcome enormous
financial and other difficulties, having started in 1976,
abandoned in 1986 and later completed ending circa 20
years later! In 1994 initial perational capability was reached.
phase included release of missiles from Norththop F-5E (serial 4837)
and EMB-326 (serial 4558) between 23rd and 28-05-02.
The second development phase ended
in 2003 and production was then started; the Brazilian AF received 4 production missiles
order to have
operational tests. These
were MAA-1T for instruction, MAA-1E for
excerrcises plus an inert model for training,
tests in 2002-2003 showed
missile superior to the third generation requirerments of the Air
were made by an Northrop F-5E to adapt the missile to the Mirage 2000
in local use; in 2005 tests were flown
against flare armed Sea
1994 the private company Mectron took definitely the project
over, equipping the missile with higher Electronic
and performance to deal with decoys and pyrotechnics. First
test was on 03-11-98, initial
operational capability was in
2002 together with the last
tests, conducted test firings from
Xavante, Embraer/Northrop F-5E and
Mirage IIIE aircrafts.
tests were done between 1999
and 2005 by the
da Aeronautica (CTA).
2002 Air Force units started to receive its first Brazilian
traning missiles, but it was never operationally integrated on
Photo: gray Embraer/Northrop F-5EM 4865 with a training
Mectron MAA-1, special Tiger drawing on the fuselage and
years anniversary of the 1°/14° GAv mentioned on
In the meantime the Brazilian AF tried to buy
Sidewinder AIM-9L without success as the USA offered only the
older AIMD-9D or AIM9-G/H.
Mectron was also contracted in December 2006 for a
fourth generation improved version, MAA-1B Piranha, developed
in a joint development venture with Airbus and Defence and Space company. Tests
be completed by April 2012;
they form part of the present armament.
A further contract with the Brazilan
company Mectron was signed in December 2016; tests were foreeseen to start in 2016 with the new Datalink BR-2, enabling the link of
Embaer/Northrop F-5EM, Embraer AMX,
Embraer E-99 and
Embraer A-29s to put all aircrafts in one information envinroment.
1997 air-to-air missiles were again purchased in the form of Rafael
Python 3, integrated in February of 1997. Real and training versions
were bought. This was the first actually used during excercises
in 2001 and ending in 2005.
air-to-air missiles deliveries are: 44 third generation Mectron
MAA-1 Piranha, Raphael Python 3 (probably 400, delivered
38 Rafael Derby (already in use in 2006), 200
fourth generation Rafael Python 4
(possibly received between
2010 and 2015) from Israel. Certification programme for integration of the Derby training version
into the Tigers started in March 2017, completed by the end of June 2017. Some
were also tested on the Tigers.
Launch of an MAA-1 (possibly B) from an Embraer/Northrop F-5EM.
Photo: Brazilian AF
F-5EM 4864 with underwing Rafael Python 3 at S Cruz AB on 22-04-07 Full air-to-air miissile load: short range wing-tip Mectron MAA-1 and underwing medium range Derby missile.
Both photos: Brazilian AF
improvement of the Tiger's air-to-air capability was the joint venture between the South African
company Denel-Dynamics and Brazilian companies Mectron, Opto Eletronica and
April 2007, finalized by 2018) of the A-Darters. In 2005
it was announced the purchase of 10 South African A-Darter stock
tests on the Embraer/Northrop F-5EM.
problems due to the downturn of Brazilian economy make in 2019 the
participation to its development doubtful, though official Brazilian
certification was given on 26-09-19 at Brasilia.
Photo: Raphael Luiz Canossa
Embraer/Northrop F-5EM 4826 testing MICLA-BR Tactical Cruise Missile
(developed in Brasil by Avibrasil) seen at Canoas AB , circa September 2019.
Argentinian newspaper Clarin mentioned in August 2017 known contacts
by Argentinia and Brasil for the transfer of Embraer/Northrop F-5EMs
for a certain period, but this was denied by the Brazilian Air Force.
The last modernised Northrop F-5FM (serial 4810) was delivered from Embraer at Gaviao Peixoto on 16-10-20.
Embraer/Northrop F-5 replacement aircraft
The Embraer/Northrop F-5 and Embraer AMX/A-1 replacement programm, known as F-X2 competition,
was launched in 2007. Participating
to the long evaluation were Boeing FA-18E/F Super Hornet, Sukhoi
Su-35, Dassault Rafale
Saab JAS-Gripen NG. This last (local designation F-39) was announced as winner at the end of 2013, mainly due to commerial reasons and transfer of technology to Brazilian industry. Twenty-eight
Gripen E asingle
seaters and 8 Gripen F double-seaters
were ordered initially flew for the first
time on 26-08-19, as seen hereunder. The last is
foreseen to be delivered in 2024. It first flew from Brazil on
iinitial deliveries will equip the 1° Grupo de Defensa Aerea (GDA) at
Brasilia/Anapolis AB); first four delivery is foreseen to be delivered in December 2021, starting to replace Embraer/Northrop F-5EM.
Photo: Brazilian AF
Old and new generation:
simultaneous take-off from Brasilia of Embraer/Northrop F-5FM and Saab
Four Embraer/Northrop F-5EM had been been withdrawn from use by
March 2021 and one Northrop F-5EM of the 1° Grupo de Aviacion de
an emergency landing at BA S. Cruz on 31-05-21 with considerable