United States of America – Navy
Last update 28-06-2021
THIS IS A WIDELY KNOWN SUBJECT - ONLY THE MOST IMPORTANT EVENTS ARE REPORTED HERE
Credit: Roundels of the world
Intial interest for a navalised Northrop F-5 (Northrop N285-B) was shown beginning 1965
in order to operate from small Reserve carriers replacing Douglas A-4s.
It featured an arrester hook, catapult spools, redesigned wings
of larger area and carrying extensive high lift devices, marginally
slower than the Northrop F-5A. There was also a design of a navalised
Northrop T-38 (designated N285-A) able tooprate from shipboard
Later (in 1973) the Navy was keen to buy Northrop F-5E Tigers for Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT).
Several Squadrons belonging to the Navy have used the aircraft for DACT; though the Marines Reserve is part of the US Navy their aircrafts have Marines inscription on the fuselage. They are listed separately.
US.S. Navy Figher Weapons School (unofficiall Top Gun Flight)
Northrop F-5E were planned at the Navy Fighter Weapons School to simulate MiG-21 during FY 1974 replacing
five Douglas A-4 supplied to Israel.
took place by the beginning of 1976 (540 to 544). Five former Vietnamse
for use of the Squadron were seen at NAS Miramar,
Photo: P. Bergagnini
Photo: Collection Northrop F-5E collection
Twice was felt a much more advanced aggressor was to be procured: the first programm was a loan of 25 IAI F-21A between 1985 and 198 followed by purchase of 22 General Dynamics F-16N single- and 4 twin-seaters TF-16N entering service early 1987 till May 1988. It served with "Top Gun", VFC-13, VF-43, VF-45, VFC-111, VFA-126 and VF-127. This unfortunate second choice led to an early retirement of the aircrafts due to wings cracks, leading to grounding in 1992 and complete retirement in 1994.
Unit strength was by 01-10-94 at NAS Leemore, the same on 01-10-95, augmented to 22 Northrop F-5 by 01-10-96 till 01-10-98. In 1999 the unit relocated to NAS Fallon (Nevada).
It was formed amalgamating the Naval Strike Warfare Cenre, Naval Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun) and Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School.
Flags of "unfriendly" countries replaced for a time (seen November 2002, September 2005) on tail of some aircrafts to better simulate the foreign country. Iraqi/Cuban flags were worn by Tigers belonging to the VFA-127 and VFC-13 units.
Known serials/codes are: (Who has
better quality tails showing flags, serials/codes painted on ?)
Aircrafts wore a moltitude of non-standard colour
schemes, applied during rework at St.
Augustine (Florida) where paint was stripped down and new one
De-activation came for some of the Dissimilar Training Units with the consolidation into the Naval Air Reserve on 23-03-96.
Northrop F-5 Enthusiast collection
Sikorsky Maintenance Service Division (MSD) provides organizational, intermediate and limited depot maintenance support as well as logistic management and administration for Northrop F-5E and F-5F aircrafts. They are based at Fighter Composite Reserve Thirteen (VFC-13) in Fallon, NV and Marine Fighter Squadron Training (VMFT-410) in Yuma, AZ.
An analyze of the cost benefit to replace the Northrop F-5E with MCDonnel F/A-18A and F/A-18B or to install a 4th generation pulse-doppler radar by 2008 was carried out end of 2003 and with the result that it recommended to keep the Tiger fleet through 2014.
Prior to the Swiss purchase (see below) VFC-13 had 33 Northrop F-5s.
Exact details are: 9 Northrop F-5E sold in 2003, 8 of which delivered by July 2004 and 1 awaiting delivery in August 2004, 23 additional were optioned and 8 still were in a sales discussions.
Modifications and limited depot-level maintenance of the "new"
aircrafts was provided by
Northrop Grumman Technical Sevices/Sierra Vista after a first limited
maintenance by RUAG at Emmen (Switzerland) completed by
August 2003; more
standardized colour schemes were then applied by Sierra Vista.
Introduction of the "new" aircraft was to lower maintenance costs with
overall costs reduction, . Included in the modifications were: a new
performance monitoring system, anti skidding brakes, fare/chaff ALE-40,
INS RWR, gaseous oxygen system (modified from liquid oxygen system
proper to the Swiss), improved ejection seats, an upper cockpit
longeron change, new fuel cells, totalling more than 600 modifications: M-39A2 were removed and replaced by ballast.
New maintenance manuals were to be rewritten and translated from German to English. The former Swiss aircrafts were redesignated Northrop F-5N, receiveing their original USAF serials.
First flight of the modified Northrop F-5N took place in 2003, first delivered on 26-03-04 to VFC-13; modification was done at Northrop Grumman rework facility at Saint Augustine (Florida)
Known retirement of "old" Northrop F-5E Tigers included two during FY 2008 and three during FY 2009. The last two remaining were serials 731635 and 741547.
The Tactical Aviation Support Wing
provided 2011 a strategic reserve force for the Navy's 10 Carrier Air
Wings and adversary training, counternarcotics, homeland defence
operations with 6 Squadrons: 2 with 30 Northrop F-5N, 1 F-5F, one with E/AB-6B, 1 with McDonnel F/A-18A, 1 with McDonnel F/A-18C , 1 with E-2C. The force remained unchanged during FY 2013.
In mid 2014 Northrop Grumman Systems Co. at St Augustine obtained a
contract for USD 175 millions for depot maintenace of 44 F-5N and F-5F
belonging to the US Navy and Marines, modified 12-02-19 with an
additional USD 17m. These contracts include aircraft inspections,
repairs, overhauls, modifications engineering support and for
components to sustain the whole fleet. Last Northrop F-5E were to have
had depot maintenance and and be redelivered to the units by September
Dissimilar training was also realised in Februar 2015 against Kfirs of the ATAC pivate company by 111 Squadron out of Key West Navail Air Station.
Defence budgets in the late 2020s have reduced flight hours readiness due to spare parts non-availability. A request to buy additional 22 ex-Swiss Tigers has been rejected in the 2020 Fiscal Year, but seems to be still active as discussions for additionl 22 aircrafts started in July 2019 but not concluded by January 2020, Value stated to be USD 40m and delivery expected by 2021. By mid-20 there were at least 10 Northrop F-5 - 2 Northrop F-5F, 8 F-5E) stored at Emmen AB
Civilian operartors augmented the adversaries with several former military aircraft types. In 2018 Tactical Air Support received a five years contract to supply flying-hours with their former Jordanian Northrop F-5E/F-5F (see civilian operators). Possibly their own US Navy Northrop F-5N will be modified to the much more advanced civilian aircrafts.
On 20-07-20 one of the three Northrop F-5F flew for the first time in a new three-tone gray camouflage sheme, colours dubbed "Siberian Tiger" in order to resemble to Sukhoi Su-27KM seen at le Bourget and MAKS airshows in 2005. No pictures of operational Sukhoi SU-27 in these colours has been seen.
Eighteen Northrop F-5E and 4 Northrop F-5F bought from Switzerland will be reconfigured to Northrop F-5N+ or F-5+; the first will be received at the end of 2022, they are not operational by March 2021. Tactical Air offers the same modification for operational aircrafts. This modification is kown unde "project ARTEMIS", it involves avionics modification/various improvements and will be accomplished in 5 years. It is not clear which Air Force/organisation will operate them.