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Tentara National Indonesia - Angkatan Udar
   The Indonesian Air Force


Credit:  Roundels of the world

                                                                                        Last update 02-05-2023


                                                   Wing 300                 On tail: Wing 300 first/            second badge                Wing 3      

                                                                  14 Skadron                      Badges worn by pilots

The Indonesian Air Force was equipped till beginninning of 1970's mainly with Soviet block fighters, but a change in government policies towards USA brought an influx of Western equipment.

During the 1975 visit on an Indonesian AF in USA a delegation expressed the wish to buy 4 to 6 Northrop F-5s, without success. During January 1977 the wish was again expressed.
In September1977 a visit of the French foreign minister was used to seek information about the Mirage F1 fighter, in order to increase pressure on the USA to grant the Tiger fighter; the same month a
delegation was sent to France to study the possibility of purchasing weapons, especially since France reportedly provided an Export Credit worth US$200 million to finance the purchase of it. Faced with
competition, the US finally gave in, even though they took some time to calculate the amount of aid provided to Indonesia, including the PL-480 rice purchase program. In fact, even though France was
offering a in soft credit, the Mirage's offer was not really appreciated due to the low compatibility of its system with the US's and its high price.

Finally, even though the US had given its approval, the LoA was never been signed by Indonesia. The US included human rights considerations as a condition of the sale, but this was finally cancelled after
behind-the-scenes lobbying: approval of the US Congress was also obtained. The Indonesian side signed the documents supporting the purchase at the end of March 1978.
Indonesia obtained the Northrop F-5s through the FMS (Foreign Military Sales) scheme with a seven-year term of credit, the first two years just paying the interest.
The offer was delayed till February 1978
when Letter of offer for 12 Northrop F-5E and 4 Northrop F-5E
(under the name Peace Komodo) at a cost of USD 125m was notified to the USA Congress. Indonesia signed the necessary documents for
the purchase at the end of March 1978.

The USA offered in June 1978 as many as 4 Northrop F-5Es in an additional programm (Peace Comodo II), but this was not accepted due to lack of funds.

Armament was procured in a separate contract in 1979: more than 350'000 of various types (20mm bullets, bomb release systems, training bombs, 1'200 Mk82 250kg bombs and 2.75 FFAR rockets
and launchers).
Air-to-air missile armament followed mid -80's in the form of AIM-9P2 Sidewinders.

                                                                          Photo: Northrop
                                                      Line-up in USA of Northrop F-5E TS-505, TS-510, F-5F TL-514 next to the RF-5E prototype 11420 in 1979.

The aircrafts were to replace 18 former Australian CA-27 Sabres equipping Skuadron Udara 14, Wing 300, at Iswahyudi AB, the unit being inaugurated by the Ministry of Defence on 05-05-80; the US government
placed restrictions regarding the use of these aircrafts: they were not to be used in former Portuguese colony East Timor, now part of Indonesia, where a guerrilla war was at time taking place.

The first three pilots to act as instructors were sent first to Lackland AFB to follow a language course on 05-12-79, followed by 1 week psycological/physical/flight simulation course to Williams AFB, followed by
another one starting 22-01-80. They went on to Wiliams AFB on 27-01-80 training;
3 days theoretical instruction, followed by flight training on Northrop F-5B, followed by Northrop F-5F. All this in included
Basic fighter manoeuvers, Air Combat Manoeuvers and Tacticts in
85 days/39.2 flight hours. The cadets became instructors after 10 additional flights and completed training by end of May 1980 returning to Indonesia
as instructors.

Local technicians went also to Williams AFB for instruction on-16-09-79 (before arrival of the fighters), returning in January 1980, accompanied by USA personnell.

Lockeheed C-5 delivered the first batch on 21-04-80; Northrop personnel, assisted by Indonesian technicians, assembled the aircrafts at
Iswahyudi AB, completing this seven days after the aircrafts' arrival in Indonesia.
First local flight of a Tiger was done by Northrop F-5F, serial TL-0514,
on 28-04-80 flown by two USAF test pilots. A second batch arrived on 05-07-80, a third one on 18-03-81 , always carried by Lockheed C-5

                                                                        First batch of Northrop F-5E/ Northrop F-5F being unloaded from hte Lockheed C-5.
Apart from the Tigers additional infrastructure was needed: extending the runway at Iswahyudi AB to 3'050 meters (500m), construction of taxiways, runway lights, approach-landing lights , avionics
and engine test stands, rehabilitation of the control tower and installation of the TACAN navigation system

Inauguration ceremony of Skuadron Udara 14 on the new fighter was on 05-05-80, when 8 additional aircrafts were delivered. Twelve former Sabre pilots were converted in one year.

                                                           Northrop F-5E TS-01510 with tail markings of 300th Wing, badge of 14th Squadron and Sidewinders
                                                           seen at Jakarta-Kemaroyan AB on 23-06-86.              
                                    Photo: Steve Ryle

The first excercise with a foreign country, called Malindo Eagle VI, took place between thr 8th and 10th September 1980 in conjunction with Malaysia, while a domestic exercise took place in November 1980 when five
aircrafts flew from Madiun to Medan via a stopover at Halim Perdanakusuma (Jakarta). They encountered bad weather on the last leg. Another domestic exercise took place at the beginning of 1981: Jayapura (Indonesian
New Guinea) was visited testing use of small airports; this airport had a runway of just 1'600 meters, though Tigers need at least 1'800 meters.

                                                 Line-up of Northrp F-5F and E; of note different front camouflage of the first two aircrafts, old Squadron badge.

First loss of an Northrop F-5E happened on 24-10-86, when a pilot killed in a training sortie in Eastern Java. In the meantime another 2 F-5Es are known to have been lost in accidents.

One air-to-air missile Sidewinder AIM-9P-2 was live fired for the first time on 02-11-89 during an exercise with an TDU-11 High Velocity Aircraft Rocket simulating the target. Additional test firings were done

An attempt to buy 4 surplus Jordanian Northrop F-5E at a cost of USD 25m was vetoed by the US Government in 1993 due to Indonesian human-rights violations on Timor issue.

The Dissimilar Air Combat Tactiic excercise "Elang Ausindo" took place from Medan/Polonia AB against Australian AF McDonnell Douglas F-18, 77th Squadron, between 13 and 17-11-93. Approximately 12
of the 30 engagement were won by th Indonesian Tigers. Air-to-air engagements were won mainly by the F-18s mainly due to the higher performance of the AN-APG-65 radar.

The Air Force commander visited the 1993 Le Bourget salon and requested proposals to various companies for an upgrade of the available aircrafts. British Aerospace, Fokker, Alinea (? Alenia?), Northrop-
Grumman, Singapore Airspace, Smiths Industries, SABCA sent their offer in.

A program, called MACAN (Modernisation of Avionics Capabilities for Armament and Navigation) was established to improve the air combat and ground attack capability, plus to enable the planes to act as an lead-in
trainer for the 
F-16s received starting from December 1989; SABCA of Belgium
, as systems integrator, was awarded in March 1995 a contract to upgrade 8 single-seaters and 4 two-seaters (though a local source
mentions only 8 single- 1double-seater) at a cost of USD 40m.
The contract included installation of new avionics, offering commonality with local F-16s and Hawk 109/209, 
rewiring, structural repairs on at least one aircraft and spares package over four years. Upgrade of the
fighter's radar APG-59(V)3 to (V)5 standard was completed in a separate program.
This selection was highly contested as the cost of a much moderner, second hand General Dynamics F-16A was only
USD 6.0 millions(!) and Belgium, an USA/NATO allied, posing the question if SABCA if it was in a position to upgrade the aircrafts and to supply the necessary spare parts.

Two prototypes, F-5E TS-0501 and F-5F TS-0516 arrived SABCA's base at Gosseliers on 31-05-95 for modification; test flying started only in September 1997 as the program run six months behind schedule due
to difficulties with suppliers and the condition of the two airframes.

Modified aircrafts were returned to Indonesia in February 1999, ferried on Antonov An-124. Upgrading of the remaining aircrafts was to be at Iswahyudi AB, in batches of no more than three at a time, SABCA to
supply modification kits, procedures and 3 technicians to assist work, expected to last up to 5 months to complete.


                                                                Northrop F-5E TS-0501 at Gosseliers during armament trials in May 1998 after
                                                                                conversion to MACAN standard.                                          Photo: Collection Northrop F-5 Enthusiast

Northrop F-5s were rotated during the years throughout the county to familiarize pilots with the 5'100 kms long archipelago, but in 1999 and 2000 three F-5Es were based at Kupang-El Tari AB (West Timor), to be
used for air defence
of the border area with East Timor against a possible Australian military intervention during unrests; MACAN modified aircrafts flew in the lead with non upgraded F-5E as wingman (not all were
MACAN modified at the time)
in order to make use of the better systems.

Continous friction with the USA regarding military operations in East Timor, including the use fo Northrop F-5s, led in 1999 to a full embargo of military material. This had very serious consequences to the operation
of the Air Force due to shortage of spare parts, which had to be bought from third parties, and, regarding the upgrade of the Tigers, of maintenance/repairs and acquisition of new components. It seems that 7 F-5E
and 4 F-5F have been upgraded, work on the missing single-seater (TS-0510) having been stopped while being in the USA. One source mentions that upgrade was completed by 2001.
                                                                  Northrop F-5E TS-0512 on a dark day, with active AIM-9 Sidewinder. without nose
                                                                  Squadron badge,
red last two digits on nose

                    Photo: TNI-AU-Angkasa-Review/
                                                          Training Sidewinder armed Northrop F-5E TS-0511 and underwing one shown on a steep climb

                                                                     Photo: TNI-AU-Angkasa-Review/Rangga Baswara Sawiyya

         Photo: TNI-AU-Angkasa-ReviewTRangga Baswara Sawiyya
                                                    Above: lneup single- double-seaters in new camouflage and underfuselage tank with sharkmouth painting.

                                                                     Northrop F-5E TS-0502 and F-5F TS-0516 at Madun-Isfahyuidi on 27-04-00, both upgraded to
                                                                     MACAN standard, with badge of the 3rd Wing. Note brighter than original camouflage, smaller
                                                                     stencilling.                                                                                          Photos: Sergio Bottaro

As part of a reorganisation Wing 3 was established on May 5, 2000 at Iswahyudi with 14 Squadron (F-5E/F), 3 Squadron (F-16A/B), Squadron 15 (Hawk Mk53), after Wing 300 had been disbanded on 01-04-85 and
all Squadrons placed directly under control of two operational Commands, Komando Operasi Angkatan Udara 1 (for the Western part of Indonesia) and
Komando Operasi Angkatan Udara 2 (for the Eastern part of

Indipencence of East Timor in 2002 and improved relations with the USA brought an end to the military materials embargo in February 2006; only 6 F-5s were operational at the time, one additional F-5E (serial
TS-0510) was held in the USA, sent to Northrop in 1999 for repairs and wasn't anymore operational. This has been returned to 
Iswahyudi AB beginning of 2006, to be used as source for spare parts.

Jordan offered a grant of F-5s in December 2005, but the offer was not accepted as the Air Force preferred to finance acquisition of later generation Sukhoi Su-27SKM and Su-30MK2 fighters for its 
Udara 11

A replacement aircraft for the Northrop F-5 was in the wishes list
of the Indonesian AF, together with replacements of BAe Hawk Mk53 trainer and North American OV-10F Bronco COIN aircraft, the last one being the
most urgent and the F-5 in the last position.

Some sources state that The Republic of China (Taiwan) offered one Squadron of 12-20 Tigers in 2012, inclusive spares. This was denied by the Air Force commander. Also offered were 16 former Korean Northrop F-5s
if Indonesia bought one Squadron of KAI T-50 trainers; the trainers where bought independely to the Tigers as the Korean ones had not been upgraded, but were equpped with the original systems and the offer was
rejected by May 2013.

Swiss company RUAG (specialised in maintenance of Northrop Tigers) also offered in November 2012 in depth mantainance of the Tigers, to take place in Indonesia (Madiun). Only need was to send one technician an
some equipment plus technology from Switzerland; the offer was not accepted.

Local fighters had been utilised between 4'000 and 10'000 flights hours and the Indonesian Air Force was considering the update of the avionics by local companies Infoglobal Teknologi Semesta in Surabaya.

Northrop's Tigers participated to several national and combined with neighbouring countries exercises as well as alarm operations. Some of them are listed hereunder.

  An Air Combat Manoevring Range, developed, together with Singapore, was established at Pekan Baru (Sumatra ) for air-to-air and air-to-ground in during 1980, initially utilising CA-27 Sabre and
  Hunters of the two countries and, from 1986 in excercise  Elang Indopura IV/86, F-5s. The
excercise  was held biennally and involved, apart from helicopters and transport aircrafts, Indonesian
  Northrop F-5s   and Singaporean ones, initially F-5E, later upgraded F-5S.
 The latest excercise
, Elang Indopura XIV/2006, was  held between 03 and 22 July 2006, divided in Phase 1 as Command Post Excercise at Paya Lebar AB (Singapore), Phase 2 as Air Manoeuvre
  Excercise at Iswahyudi AB with of 6 Indonesian F-5Es  and 
deployment of 6 Singaporean F-5S.

An interception on alarm took place on 26-04-06 when 2 F-5E based at Kupang AB intercepted about 80 miles form Kupang 4 Australian F-18C and 1 B.707 tanker en route from Darwin (Australia) to Paya Lebar AB
(Singapore). After initial radio contact problems it was cleared that the Australian aircrafts had obtained prior clearance to overfly Indonesian air space.

   "Air Power Show 2007" exercise, to  show Air Force capabilities, was held  on Belitung Island (Sumatra) 18-11-07  with the participation of 3 F-5Es,
   2 F-16A, 4 Hawk 109/209 destroying  dummy targets.

  Photo: Indonesian AF

The discovery
beginning May 2009 by a radar station near Kupang (Timor Island) of a number of unknown fighter aircrafts flying near Rote Island prompted routine air patrols by four Northrop F-5E along the Indonesia
Australia border, but no contact took place. The distance between the island and Australia is less than 90 miles.

Continous tension with Malaysia brought during 2009 the basing of some Tigers at Balikpapan AB (East Borneo); a ground controlled interception exercise, called "Cakra-B/09", was held between 06-04-09 and 14-4-09
to improve readiness,
with the participation of 5 Northrop F-5. These aircrafts were supported by General Dynamics F-16 at the same base and 2 Sukhoi Su-27 and 2 Sukhoi Su-30 based at Makasar (also in East Borneo,
but farther away from the border).

Plans were on-hand (September 2011) to buy 24 ex USAF General Dynamics F-16C/D and re-equip Freedom Fighter equipped Squadron 14 with these aircrafts as well as to make good attrition losses of F-16A/B
equipped Sqn 3, though the average life span available of present F-5s is 4'000 hour which would keep the fleet flying till 2020.

The Indonesian Air Force Chief of Staff mentioned in March 2012 they were considering the Republic of China offer to grant 1 Squadron of Northrop F-5E/Fs, but not accepted.

Entrance to the Indonesian Air Force museum at Djakarta.       
Photo: unknown         Forward fuselage of Northrop F-5E TS-0503/78-0816 14 Squadron at Jogjakarta Mandala
                                                                                                                                   Air Force Museum in July 2018     Photo: Bluesky300

         Photo: TNI-AU-Angkasa-Review
                                                                                            Northrop F-5 TS-0502 seen at Bandung in 2020

The Tigers had to be grounded two times durig 2013 due to spares shortage.

The last Indonesian Tiger flew on 28-04-16 in a Simulated Surface Attack-Mission, code" Phoenix Flight" with serials TS-0216 and TS-0516 On 25-04-17 Northrop F-5E, serial TS-503;  the unit was disbanded
and placed in reserve status,
Tiger pilots were attached to other units.

ts 11 remaining aircrafts were handed over to museums or preserved as monuments; on 25-04-17 Northrop F-5E, serial TS-503, was officially inaugurated in Jogjakarta, at the Central Museum of the Indonesian AF.
Altogether seven single-seaters and 2 two-seaters had been confirmed as monuments by April/June 2018.

Replacement was originally foreseen by eleven Russian Sukhoi Su-35, but this was not proceeded and Saab JA-39 Gripen, F-16 Block 60 Viper and Eurofighter Typhhoon were evaluated. Finally 25 ex USAF,
upgraded F-16C/D Block 25 were bought, while 1 Sukhoi Su-27 and 2 Su.30 were transferred to the reformed Northrop F-5 unit from the 11th Air Squadron on 07-02-20.