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Credit:  Roundels of the world

                                        Last update 29-08-2023

Due to continous tension with the People's Republic of Korea (technically still at war) little official information about its aircrafts/units; much information given here is subject to confirmation, particularly details written
in blue

All first line units are under the command of the Air Force Operations Command at Osan AB (near Seoul).

An internal paper of the US Commander in Chief Pacific dated 1964 there is mention of a sixth F-5 Squadron; only five units have been cofirmed/identified.

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BADGES       Aircrafts didn't wore early any Wing or Squadron badge, rendering impossible to ascertain the unit's attachment.

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                      F-5E 50573 with RWR, grey defence camouflage and Sidewinders
, no badge         Photo: Alex Fushi

By at least the end of 2019 policy was changed as follows:
                  8th Fighter Wing -  Squadron 103rd carried a small Squadron badge next to the two Tigers,
in front of the intakes.
                10th Fighter Wing - one Squadron (205th Fighter Squadron) carried the Wing badge on the tail and small Squadron badge below
                                             in front of the left side intakes.

                18th Fighter Wing - both Squadrons (105th/112th Fighter Squadrons) carry individual Squadron badge on the vertical only

                         Tiger with 103 Squadron emblem                                        Tiger with 201 Squadron emblem


FIGHTER WINGS  -  equipped with Freedom Fighter and/or Tiger - for unit details see FIGHTER SQUADRONS chapter below

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  1st WING - old
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 1st WING
- new

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    8th WING

   10th Wing
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   11th Wing
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16th Wing
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 18th Wing

1st  Fighter Wing  -    Kwangju AFB
This wing is of strategic importance due to the proximity of Kwanju AFB to Iedo Island, contested by China. One Squadrons operates now KAI T-50 trainers (189th Squadron), aircrafts lacking radar and armament;
the 216th Squadron with KAI FA-50 fighter/attack aircrfats and finally the 206th Squadron with KAI/Northrop KF-5s for local air-defence.
Its home has no permanent United States military aircrafts stationed, but it is utilised during combined Korean/USAF training, eg during Max Thunder exercise in 2018

8th  Fighter Wing  -    Wonju AFB
Has combat duties due to the highly unstable situation with North Korea (no peace/no war); its based near the South/North Korean truce Line, at Wonju. Formed in August 1979 as 8th Tactical Control Squadron,
was renamed as
8th Fighter Wing in August 1988; was formed by the XX Squadron and 237 Squadron. Conversion to KAI KA-1 (for light attack) by the 237th Squadron started in October 2005, while the 103rd
in May 2013 and 203rd in August 2015 received FA-50 for groud-attack, a full Korean-built aircrafts Wing.

The 53rd Special Flight Group with its Black Eagles Flying Team (flying KAI T-50B, acrobatic version) form also part of the Wing.

10th Fighter Wing       Suwon AFB
Northrop F-5 A/B aircraft squadron attachment was virtually shown by two darts painted on tail: red (probably 105th Squadron), green and blue; colours are not known to which Squadrons (102nd/201st ?) they belonged.

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Early photo of Sidewinder armed F-5A-15 38436 10th Fighter Wing.                                                       Northrop F-5A 38407 FA-407 two blue (probably) or black darts painted on tail.

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                                                                                                     Northrop F-5B 13071/FA-071 two green darts on tail

Initial rate of operation of Wing's both Freedom Fighter equipped Squadrons was high, around 70%, 13 flying hours per aircraft/month. One USAF instructor was attached to the Wing.

On 16-09-82 it obtained the local built KAI/Northrop F-5E and F-5F, while at
present it is (one of three Wings) combat ready due to the confrontation (no peace/no war) with North Korea; 2 units
(189th and 206th Training Squadron) and 1 combat unit (206th Fighter Squadron) equipped with Northrop F-5s.

                                                                                   Underwing ground attack rockets laden Northrop F-5E 10-583.        Photo: unknown

     Fully faden (two underwings tanks, excercise Sidewinder, pod) Northrop KF-5F landing                                 Northop KF-5F, 10th Wing, serial not visible.   Photos: unknown
     at Cheongju AB ond 21-12-18.             Photo:                                                               Of note different undercockpit Tigers position

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                                                       New Wing's badge on KAI/Northrop F-5F armed with 500 lbs Korean GPS Guided Bomb (KGGB)       Photo: R.O. Korea AF


11th Fighter Wing   -   Daegu AFB
Part of he Wing was the 102nd Squadron with Northrop F-5A, F-5B later re-equipped with newer Northrop F-5E/F-5F were introduced.
At present is equipped with Boeing F-15K, long-range air-to-air and all-weather strike aircraft; it has been operating the F-15K since 2007, first delivered officially in December 2005 to Korea.

16th Fighter Wing   -   Yecheon AFB
The Wing was established on 01-08-76; on 21-12-76 the 202nd Squadron Northrop F-5s was attached to the Wing, while the 115th Squadron (with Northrop T-38) arrived in 1999.
202nd Squadron on 21-03-16 on FA-50 for ground attack; the 115th Squadron moved on KAI KT-50 on 27-07-12, for training.
18th  Fighter Wing  -  Gangneung AFB
Is at present combat ready due to the highly unstable situation with North Korea (no peace/no war).
The Wing was established on 01-06-77
; the 105th Squadron (formerly 1st Wing) was received on on 25-08-86, while on 28-04-87 (formerly 1st Wing) the 112th Squadron was transferred to the Wing which also
obtained the 205th Squadron from the 16 Wing on 10-08-94.
Disbandement of the 205th Squadron came on 30-11-15 whilst the 105th and 112th Squadrons still fly (by January 2024) Tigers. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

TACTICAL GROUPS   - equipped with Freedom Fighter and/or Tiger  -  Chungju AFB

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                            38th Fighter  -  Kunsan AFB  /  39th Tactical Reconnaissance - SacheonAFB

The 38th Fighter Group ia now operational on KAI/General Dynamics KF-16 while the 39th Reconnaissance Group has been upraged to Wing status in November 2020b and equipped with business jets modified
Electroncs Warfare standard.

FIGHTER SQUADRONS - Equipped with Freedom Fighters and/or Tiger - for Wing details see FIGHTER WINGS chapter above

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      101st Fighter Squadron based at Suwon AFB, part of the 10th Wing, received in 1975 the Tiger. Locally produced KAI/Northrop F-5 was introduced in 1982: it was still equipped in 2020
      this fighter
as well as in April 2021/October 2021/January 2022/January 2024
      The unit is responsable for protecting the airspace of the Seoul metropolitan area and the Northwestern part of the country.


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      102nd Fighter Squadron was the second unit to re-equip with 14 Northrop F-5A and received Northrop F-5A and F-5B from other units when the
      newer Northrop F-5E/F-5F were introduced.

      The 102nd Squadron was transferred to the 11th Wing at Daegu AFB in December 2005 on re-equipping with Boeing F-15K "Slam Eagle",
      what a performance jump!

                                                                                    Photo: R of Korea Air Force
                                                                                             F- 5A-15s 01383/10522, 102nd Squadron in a new air-defence colour

                                                                                                          Photo: R of Korea Air Force

                                                                                                 Withdrawal ceremony of Northrop F-5A and F-5B in 2005 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   103rd Fighter Squadron (ex North American F-86F at Kimpo AFB) has been equipped with Northrop F-5E/F-5F, originally based at Yeouido AFB between November 2008
   and March 2013. H
as made a long time ago anti-spying operations, under the Air Combat Combat, also at Kwangju AFB,
   It iwas where the Combat Readiness Training (CRT) was given, performing virtually training courses for all Tiger Squadrons. Transfer to Kwangju AFB took place on 25-02-66.

   On 29-12-05 started operation of the KAI KT-50 advanced trainer as Flight ; first 2 examples being delivered in the same month while pilots training on the new aircraft began in Februar 2007. The first grauated
   class of  12 cadets gratuated on 31-10-08, two had an experimental combat training directly on General Dynamics F-16, while the remaining 10 followed the normal OCU training on Northrop F-5s

                                                                                       Photo: Rider's
                                                                                                    Northrop F-5E 10599 of 103rd Fighter Squadron

Both Squadrons operated as Operational Converion Units till 03-08-05, when they were disbanded, enabling the withdrawal of the approximately 40 remaining Northrop F-5A and F-The remaining were used for
educational and demonstration purposes.

The first 8 of sixty KAI FA-50 (for 2 Squadrons) was handed over at Wonju on 20-08-13, replacing Northrop F-5s. Training on the new aircraft had already started in May 2013; The initial attack aircrafts were
llowed by 12 additional ones in 2014

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    105th Fighter Squadron was transferred to Suwon AB on being re-equipped as first unit with Freedom Fighters.

    Board outside operation room, 105 Squadron, operating Northrop F-5As. Of note "Red Scarf" designation.  Unfortunately b/w pictures, darts should probably be red.

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                                                                                             Official handover line-up on 30-04-65 ceremony

Three Northrop F-5Bs were received on 15-04-65 and 20 Northrop F-5A on 22-04-65.  The first Northrop 16 F-5As and 4 F-5B entered service officially at Suwon AB on 30-04-65, when nine
single-seaters overflew the base during the ceremony. Operational status was reached on 01-09-65.

Formerly operating with the 1st Fighter Wing was transferred to the 18th Fighter Wing on 25-08-86.

In September 2006 the number of Northrop F-5 Squadrons were reduced and the 105th Squadron stood down at Suwon AFB, replaced by Choengju AFB based McDonnell F-4 Phantoms

A Korean source stated that the Northrop F-5E/F-5F equipped Squadron established an 30'000 hour accident free flight record on 27-06-10. The record was completed over 11 years.
According to another report it is in November 2021 and September 2023 still operational on Northrop KF-5E

frame 1   The 110th Fighter Squadron at Daegu AB followed the 102nd and 105th Squadrons as third unit to be equipped with Northrop F-5A on 01-05-1966.
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                                                                                   Camouflaged F-5A-50 01386 seen on 11-08-75 at Osan AB open-day
                                                                                                                                           Photo: The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast archives
The unit moved to Daegu AFB in 1972 and was re-equipped with McDonnell F-4Ds.


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    111st Fighter Squadron 
     This unit, based at Kunsan AFB  and part of the semi-independent 38th Group, was equipped with Northrop F-5E/F-5F till 13-10-2007 when the last flight of a Tiger took place and the Squadron
conversion to General Dynamics F-16C/F-16D.(as first Squadron of the Republic of Korea Air Force)

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                                                                                        Final Tiger landing ceremony at Kunsan AF (note censored serial) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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   112th Fighter Squadron  (ex North American F-86F based at at Kimpo AFB). with Northrop KF-5E/F-5F

   Originally part of the 1st Fighter Wing was transferred to the 18th Fighter Wing on 28-04-87.  The US built aircraft was replaced by Korean built KAI//Northrop F-5E/F-5F.
   On 10-10-19 the unit set a new record of 70'000 flying hours (22 years and 11 months) without accidents.

   Still flying Tigers by March 2023, additionally one aircraft with the badge of 112th Squadron has been seen retired at Suwon AB on 14-11-18

115th Undergraduate Pilot Training Squadron

The unit was formed in May 1968 as a  Fighter Squadron flying Northrop F-5A and F-5B: it started changing its role to advance training from August 1975 at Kwangju AB on receiving, under the USA programm "Peace
16 Northrop F-5B two-seats (Fiscal Year 1974 aircrafts),

On 12-12-77 27'000th accident free flying hours on Northrop F-5B in over 4 years had been flown; the same unit obtained during 1977 the Top Gunnery trophy.

frame 1     The unit was renamed at later stage 115th Flight Training Squadron, and transferred to the 16th Wing at Yecheon AB in May 1999, being renamed 115 Training Squadron on being transferred to the
     10th Wing  and
converting to the similar Northrop T-38A, leased fro the USA in January 2000.

       Badge worn by pilots on the last flight of a Northrop F-5B, in 2005.

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                                    It can be cold in Korea!! Northrop F-5B 42 at Osan AB 30-01-81    Photo: Eugene L. Zorn   /   Tiger's heads on Northrop F-5B 38450 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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    122nd Fighter Squadron , part of the 1st Wing at Kwangju AFB , received all the remaining Northrop F-5A and F-5B from other units. Later (when?) it obtained the KAI/Northrop Tiger variant
was transferred from the 1st Wing at Kwangju AFB to Daegu's AFB 11th Fighter Wing where it later received Boeing F-15K, it is not known when, though last 2 Boeing F-15K were delivered
    on 02-04-2012. Probably these were for this unit.

                                                                 Photo: Enfield _ROK
                                                                        Northrop F-5E seen at Gangneung AB on 29-11-19, in the background a two-seater,
                                                                        both armed with rocket launcher

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  132nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron flew Northrop 8 RF-5A, later an additional 1 former Vietnamese was taken on charge.
   Established in Jun3 1972 it replaced North American RF-86F in the same role.

   Badge 132nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron.

Importance of an own reconnasaissance force was acknowledged in 1990 and another unit was formed (131st TRS Squadron), equipped with 12 former USAF RF-4C, augmented by an additional 11 RF-4C,
Electronic counter measures pods ALQ-131 were also delivered.

Some Northrop F-5As and F-5Bs were also received as trainers. The reconnaissance version soldiered on till June 2007; no RF-5A had been lost up to their retirement.

                                                                                        Photo: R of Korea AF
                                                                                                    Air-to-air view of former Vietnamese RF-5A-45 97148

                                                                                        Photo: R of Korea AF
                                                                                                 Overwing photo of the same aircraft (different camouflage?)

The Northrop RF-5A Squadron was possibly re-designated 125th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron before 1978.

Modified reconnaissance General Dynamics F-16s as well as Hawker125-800 RA and Hawker125-800 SIG new electronic and SIGINT aircrafts (last 2 ordered in 1995 and delivered beginning of the next century) took
reconnaissance tasks over; the Group was transferred to Seongnam AB and reformed as Wing.

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    201st Fighter Squadron  For the period between 24-02-78 to 08-09-03 a 100'000-hour accident-free record was established. This unit is still part of the 10th Wing at Suwon AB in October 2021,
   equipped with KAI/Northrop KF-5E and KF-5F. It is planned to keep the Tigers till 2025; still operated Northrop F-5E in January 2023.


frame 1   202nd Fighter Squadron
   Part of the 16th Wing at Yecheon AFB, was the first unit to be equipped with Northrop F-5E / F-5F. Though transferred to xxth Wing for a short period (when/how long?) it returned
   to be part of the 16th Wing in 2008 and being disbanded in March 2014 (last mission by four Northrop F-5s on 28-02-14) and re-equipped
from September 2014 with Sidewinder
   armed KAI FA-50.


  Landing view of Northrop built Nortrop F-5E 01-644 202 Squadron     Photo:                 
Three Northrop KF-5E and two KF-5F at the opening ceremony of the Seoul Airshow 20-10-09

203rd Fighter Squadron at Wonju AFB has been equiped with Northrop F-5E/F-5F, disbanded in April 2013 in order to re-equip with the KAI FA-50.

Introduction ceremony of Korean built KAI FA-50 fighter, was held in October 2017, first official mission followed late January 2018. The Northrop F-5s were relocated to other Squadrons.

    205th Fighter Squadron  Established on 20-09-77 as a fighter pilot training unit equipped with Northrop F-5E / F-5F under the command of the 16th Fighter Wing from 10-08-94
    was transferred to the 18th Fighter Wing on 06-08-13.
    The milestone of 120'000 flight hours without a single accident was reached on 13-01-10
setting a new world record of flight hours without accident for a single Squadron on a single fighter
It celebrated 130'000 flying hours on 06-08-13, again without acidents.

    Disbandment came on 30-11-15.

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                                                                         Northrop F-5E 01642 205 Squadron landing at Gangneung in February 1976, note RWR/205th Squadron badge on tail.

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                                                                         Prototype KAI/Northrop KF-5F 10594 at the time in use by the 205th Fighter Squadron
206th Fighter Squadron

Part of the 1st Fighter Wing at Kwangju has been equipped with Northrop F-5E / F-5F. The unit reached in January 1992 70'000 flight hours without accidents.
On 21-12-12 it operated under the Southwest Air Defence and Combat Readiness Training Command. It had operational and training duties. 
It still operated KAI/Northorp F-5E, F-5F by January 2021. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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207th Fighter Squadron

Has been equipped with Northrop F-5E/F-5F, later Northrop/KAI KF-5E / KF-5F as part of the 8th Fighter Wing at Wonju AFB;  in May 2014 was transfered to the 10th Wing at Suwon AFB.
Re-equipment of XXX Squadron with KAI KA-1 began in October 2005 for training and KAI FA-50 of the XXX for ground attack follwed in May 2013, while Squadron XXX receved the new aircraft later, in
August 2015.

Black Eagles
An aerobatic team, called Black Eagles, was formed in 1966 with 7 Northrop F-5A but stopped performing between 1970 and 1972. During the years 1973 to 1978 it was reformed, this time
equipped wth Northrop RF-5A. Disbandment followed in 1978 though reformed again in December 1994 flying 6 Cesssna A-37B

Black colour seen on the picture on tail might be blue as the Korean flag has red/white/blue colours                    Poor quality but most interesting overwing air-to-air picture of the team
                                                                                                       Photo: Stephen Miller

                                                                                         Photo:  R. Korea AF
                                                                          Northrop RF-5A with its pilots (badge unknown), colours as utilised by the aerobatic team i 1974

                                                                                            Photo:  R. Korea AF
                                                                                                              Underwing viiew of the Black Eagles aircrafts.