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    Fuerza Aerea Hondurena / Honduran Air Force
Roundel                     Credit:  Roundels of the world

                                 Last update 07-06-2023

Bases                                                                         Procurement and operation

 Tension 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 MiG-21s.
 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 America,
 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 for export.


US 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.
Finally, 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
USD 75m 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but actually these were kept in use till 27-01-96, when they were officially withdrawn from use, leaving the Northrop F-5 as the only fighter.

                                                                          Base badge                     Tiger painted on tail since 2009     Base patch not seen on aircrafts
Aircrafts foreseen 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.
Some 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
Air Base, 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
                                                                          additional USAF inscription.                                        Photo: Archive The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast

Training started 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 available.
Existing rails for AIMP-9P Sidewinder at wingtips were kept; the missiles were received later (
when?) . 
Northrop 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.

The 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
locally in 1996 with the help of Chilean personnel.


Northrop 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
in September 2006, without serious consequences.

There were 10 aircrafts in service in 2004 according to an US source. Another source mentions 9 were active and 2 in maintenance.

                                                                               Line-up 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 Enthusiast

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 low.
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 Honduras.

        Photo: Nelson Mejia/HN Spotters
                                                                          Northrop F-5E 4006 at San Pedro Sula on 06-10, tiger-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
by 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 2013.
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.

Honduras is member of the F-5 Technical Operation Group which provides all technical assistance need for the fleet.
An agreement with Israel for military co-operation was signed on 27-07-16. It icludes modernisation of 2 Northrop F-5F, overhaul of 7 Northrop F-5Es,  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 as engines had been overhauled in Chile and some flights overflew El Salvador airspace.
It seemes that by beginning 2020 only 3 Northrop F-5s in addition to 3 Cessna OA-37B fighter-bombers were airworthy.

  Rocket launcher equipped Northrop F-5E FAH 4007        Photo: Steve Raudales                          Same, very clean, Northrop F-5E FAH 4007 at the open-day at San Pedro Sula AB in 2023
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Photo: Ennio Tattoli

                                                                                                      Overwing view of Sidewinder equipped  Northrop F-5E FAH4005

According some information no overhaul to the Northrop F-5 has been made till mid 2021, time by which the USA placed restrictions on US armament.                                                                                          

According to an interview released in 2022 by the Air Force commander the refurbisheement of the Northrop F-5 Tigers is not a priority, while the country is trying to buy Embraer A-29 Super Tucano.

By july 2023 the USA authorised the maintenace of the officially 4 Northrop F-5s operational, to be used to fight drug carrying aircrafts..

Information needed

Delivery dates/serials.
Any additional information/correction.