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Credit:  Roundels of the world

                                        Last update 27-02-2022


Northrop F-5A Operations

                                                                               Photo: Rep. of Korea AF
                                                                      Air-to-air view of 4, 10th Wing, AIM-9B Sidewinder armed Northrop FA-5A fighters

It is a good requirement for a spy to infiltrate by submarins due to the complex coastlines. In the '60s and '70s there were cases where Norh Korean spy ships infiltratied South Korean coast, using geographic
requirement, were sorted out and sunk by Northrop F-5s fighters belonging to the First Wing.

Northern Korean spy ships infiltrated South Korean spaceduring the 1960's and 1970'due to the complex geographic coastline and were sunk by local Freedom Fighters.
A Northrop F-5As from the 10 Fighter Wing sank in 1967 an armed North Korean spy ship that infiltrated the Deokjeokdo Island on the west coast of Korea in 1967. 


Northrop F-5E Operations               Interception of various Soviet and North Korean aircrafts types off the Korean coasts was a constant Northrop F-5 duty

On January 23rd, 1971 2 Northrop F-5A intercepted an hijacked a Korean AL Fokker F-27 flying towards North Korea, forcing it to crash-land before reaching the border.

During the Yellow Sea incident 26/27-02-75, when North Korean boats approached South Korean (disputed) islands, a counter-inflirtation package of 2 Northrop F-5A, 1 Lockheet AT-33A, 1 C-46 flare ship took-off
and conducted an combat air patrol over the disputed area, without need to intervene. During the same days North Korean fighters (thought to be MiG-21s) penetrated the South Korean Air Defence Identication
Zone) and South Korean McDonnell F-4D, Northrop F-5As were scrambled. It seems that the North Korean aircrafts ignored the Northrop F-5A but retreated when they were met by the F-4Ds with their AIM-7E
Sparrows missiles.

An known F-5A operatios is the interception on 11-05-66, some 110 km NE of Ullung Island (off                               Ilyushin Il-20 ELINT aircraft being intercepted by an F-5E
Korea's East coast), of a Soviet AF An-8 which was monitoring fallout from an Chinese nuclear
experiment that had taken place two days earlier.
             Photos: Rep. of Korea AF
                                                                                            Sidewinder armed Northrop F-5F intercepting Soviet Union Tupolev Tu-16 Badger

Not an exercise but an operation on alarm by KF-5Es of the 201st Fighter Squadron, was the escort to Suwon AB on 21-02-86 of defecting People's Republic of China Shenjang J-6 (MiG-19) serial 3283, a reconnaissance

Several interceptions were also made of Soviet reconnaissance aircrafts, amongst which the escort beginning 1989 of a Tu-16 Badger in close vicinity of S. Korea, as well as of several Il-20 Coot-A ELINT during the cold
war years.

Another interception happened on 20-02-03: 2 Northrop F-5E were deployed (followed by other 4) to engage a North Korean MiG-19 when it crossed a western maritime boundary; they flew 8 miles into S Korean airspace
before heading back.

One known scramble of 4 Korean Northrop F-5s happened on 08-03-05, when an Japanese civil aircraft violated the Korean Air Defense Identification Zone near the disputed Tokdo Islets (with Japan) , keeping the aircraf
away from the islands.

On 22/23-12-20 Korean (as well as Japanese) fighters, type unknown, were scrambled to check-out 19 Russian and Chinese military aircrafts penetrating the Air Defence Identification Zone. They (at least 4 Xian H-6K,
2 Tupolev Tu-95) operated in a joint excercise, violating acccording to a local source Korean airspace, quickly denied by China and Russia.

                                                                             Photo: R of Korea AF
                                                                                       Sidwinder armed KAI/northrop KF-5E, serial 10580 on patrol

Domestic and joint Korean/USA excercises

Due to continuos tension with the Northern part of the peninsula (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) utmost importance is given to large scale domestic and joint Korean/USA Air Force, Army, Navy excercises.
These are held several times a year.

Domestic excercises

The most important, two-weeks long exercise "Soaring Eagle" was held for the first time in 2008 with air-to-air and air-to-ground operations across the country, twice a year. It was repeated from Cheongju AFB in
February 2015, lasting two-weeks
. Aircrafts particitpating were KAI FA-50 light attack aircrafts, Northopr F-5E, General Dynamic KF-16, McDonnell F-4E and McDonnel F-15K.

During February 2016 the excercise included 50 Korean fighters of all types. It  lasted 3 days involving 102 pilots and 950 Air Force personnell. The 29th Tactical Development and Training Group participated to it.
The excercise was devoted mainly to Air Defence.

A joint maritime Navy/Air Force excercise was hold in May 2016. It included Navy destroyer, Lockheed P-3 Orion, Lynx helicoters. Additionally Northrop F-5, KAI KA-1 and KF-50 strike fighters were active in a fictitious
answer to North Korean maritime and air provocation in the
Eastern sea.

Joint excercises

On 14-07-75 Northrop F-5As and US F-4E conducted the first combined emergency landing and take-off exercise on the Seoul-Pusan expressway near Suwon.

Excecise "Vigilant Ace"  started on 04-12-17 (only a week after North Korea had tested its new intercontinental ballistic missile) ending on 09-12-17. It included all Korean fighter types (including the KF-5) plus several
USAF ones; most important was the participation of 6 F-22 and 18 F-35s.

Regular exercises called "Team Spirit" have been hold since 1976 and 1993 with the participation of the US Air Force. Korean F-5s have participated to all issues, including one in March 1978 aircrafts used against
USAF F-4s.
In August 1984 F-5s and Korean F-4s participated to Team Spirit '84 with USAF F-15s, F-4s, F-16s, while in January 1991 landings on a highway site was excercised.

Another important exercise was the participation at Nellis AFB of 3 Northrop F-5F to the Red Flag exercises between 18-08-79 and  29-09-79 as well as between 05-03-80 and 15-04-80, each time with 3 (plus 1 reserve)
new built Northrop F-5F, before these were transferred to Korea.

                          Photo: Greg L. Davis
F-5F 80787 at Nellis AFB on 29-03-80                           Photo: Ben Knowles                               Northrop/KAI KF-5F 10595, 10th Fighter Wing, in a line-up with USAF 8th Fighter Wing F-16s on 28-09-03.

"Max Thunder" exercise in June 2007 at Kunsan AB saw the participation of 8 Korean General Dynamics/KAI KF-16, 4 McDonnell F-4, 2 F-5E and 20 USAF F-16s, 4 A-10s. The same exercise has been repeated in June
2008, this time including the participation of Korean F-15Ks and USAF F-15E and in March 2017now including Korean KAI FA-50
, US Navy EA-18 and US Marines AV-8B.

LOSSES unknown serials

F-5 Freedom Fighter - losses
Serials not known: Two F-5A collided on 13-12-92; one F-5A and 1 F-5B collided on 19-10-94.

F-5 Freedom Fighter - preserved aircrafts
Several Freedom Fighters and early Tigers have been noted at various locations:
69131 at Seoul; 10552 at Sacheon Airspace museum; 38436 at Osan AB, 38391 at Gunsan; 89046 at Seoul War Memorial Museum; 69146 at Muan; 13309 where?

                                                                           Photo: jun/
                                                                        Immaculate, last colours Northrop F-5A 61-383 shown at Osan AFB on 20-10-12

                                                      Northrop F-5A 61-393 being prepared for exposure at Pacific Aviation Museum in Pearl Harbour in November 2012

42117, is at the Boramae Park; 63449 at Seoul-Aviation University

Monument Northrop F-5A Freedom Tiger sitting in Cheoan in March 2020 with a fancy camouflage       Northrop F-5B 63449 seen on 14-03-19 at Seoul-Aviation University. Of note low visiblity
                                                                                                                      Photo: Naver       
national insignia                                                                               Photo: cassiopea

                                                                                   Photo: Kahluamilk/
                                                                                Northrop F-5A 10-552 at Sacheon AFB on 18-11-22 in Korean national colours

F-5 Tiger - losses
Serials not known: one F-5E 09-04-97, 14-09-99, 13-05-03 (16th Wing), 19-09-03 2 F-5E (8th Wing), 11-03-04 2 F-5E (10th Wing), 2 F-5E from Suwon AB collided on 02-11-04, on 13-07-05 1 F-5F (10th Wing)
collided with 1 F-4E (17th Wing), 1 F-5E on 04-11-08 from Wonju AB (
8th Wing) colliding with another F-5E.