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Honduran Air Force
of the world
between Honduras and Nicaragua, governed by a socialist
regime, was high during the '80s, particularly when
Nicaragua showed in the mid-80s
(unconfirmed and probably not exact) interest in
buying fighters and Cuba willing to supply
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
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
president Ronal Reagan approved the sale of Tigers in late 1986,
valued at USD 60m, following a possible introduction of MiG-21s by
Nicaragua, but not introducted.
the US Congress granted authorisation in 1987 to supply 10 Northrop
F-5E from the 57th Fighter Weapons Wing and 2 Northrop F-5F from the
405th Tactical Training Wing to Honduras at a cost of
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officially withdrawn from use, leaving the Northrop F-5 as the only
Tiger painted on tail since 2009
Base patch not seen on aircrafts
for Honduras were repainted at Kelly AFB (USA) beginning from June 87
and delivery started from this base in 16th 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.
sources mention that Northrop F-5F 4001 and 4002 arrived in
December 1987, the Northrop F-5E between December 1987 and
November 1988. All were attached
directly to the command of H Caraccioli Moncada
Escuadrilla de Caza together with the remaining Dassault S. Mystere B2. 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
Archive The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast
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
Existing rails for AIMP-9P Sidewinder at wingtips were
kept; the missiles were received later (when?)
F-5E of the 425th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron went to La Ceiba AB in mid-March and December 1989 when 2 aircrafts each were each
hosted ther to train Honduran Northrop F-5 pilots in air-combat.
On 06-05-92 an Northrop F-5E shot down an Piper PA-28 suspected on a drug-running flight.
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
1996 with the help of Chilean personnel.
F-5E 4009 and camouflaged Super Mystère B2 2011 (wfu) on
show at La Ceiba 12-99. Northrop F-5E 4005 with camouflaged tank seen at La
Ceiba in December 1999 under a menacing sky.
Photos: 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
September 2006, without serious consequences.
were 10 aircrafts in service in 2004 according to an US source.
Another source mentions 9 were active and 2 in
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
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
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
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
Photo: Nelson Mejia/HN Spotters
Northrop F-5E 4006 at San Pedro Sula on 06-10tiger-head on tail, base
badge and training Sidewinder
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
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
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.
is member of the F-5 Technical Operation Group which provides all
technical assistance need for the fleet.
Israel for military co-operation was signed on 27-07-16. It icludes
modernsation of 2 Northrop F-5E, overhaul of 7 Northrop F-5Fs, 5
Cessna OA-37Bs and 9 Tucanos for a total
of USD 210m. This
had to be approved by the US Administration, but approval
was refused. It seemes that by beginning 2020 only 3 Northrop F-5s in addition to
3 Cessna OA-37B fighter-bombers were airworthy.
According some information no overhaul to the Northrop F-5 has been made till mid 2021.
Any additional information/correction.