F-5 Tiger

YouTube – F-5 Tiger

US$ Cost:
Primary Function:
Weight Empty:
Max. Weight:
Cruise Speed:
Max. Speed:
Initial Climb:
First Flight:
GE J85
2 x 5,000 lbs. ea.
2- 20 mm
7,000 lbs.
9,725 lbs.
24,725 lbs.
48 ft. 2 in.
26 ft. 8 in.
650 mph
1,080 mph
34,450 fpm
51,800 feet
1,540 miles

F-5 Tiger

F-5 Tiger

The latest version of the F-5 Tiger, produced Northrop, is a vastly improved version of its predecessor. It has been praised for its agility, versatility, ease of maintenance, low initial and long term operating expenses. However the aircraft is not equipped to fly in all weather conditions.

The F-5 Tiger was built with one or two seats. The two seat version has been used as a trainer in air forces around the world since 1964.

In addition to the F-5 Tiger produced in the United States, Canada, Spain, Taiwan, South Korea, and Switzerland had licensing agreements to build it.

The F-5 Tiger was first flown on August 11, 1972. It had more powerful engines than the original model and also a wider fuselage to accommodate the engines. Avionics were vastly improved as well. By 1980 some twenty air forces around the world were flying the aircraft.

Some 17 F-5 Tiger aircraft were deployed to Vietnam in 1965 and 1966. They flew a total of over 2,500 ground combat sorties. While able to deliver ordnance accurately, and were generally successful, they couldn’t fly long range missions without frequent air-to-air refueling. Seven F-5 Tiger aircraft were lost to anti-aircraft fire, with two more lost due to mechanical difficulties.

F-5 Tiger aircraft with the Ethiopian air force engaged Somali jet aircraft during the 1977 to 1978 Ethio-Somali War.

On July 17, 1977 a pair of F-5 Tiger aircraft engaged four Somali jet fighters near Harer Ethiopia. The F-5’s downed two of the Somali aircraft with missiles, while the remaining two collided with each other. Overall F-5 Tiger aircraft were superior to Somali aircraft. However ground fire claimed at least three of the aircraft.

Iranian F-5 Tiger aircraft were used extensively for ground support and air-to-air combat during the 1980 to 1988 Iran – Iraq War. It appears that during the early years of the War, the F-5 Tiger could best Iraqi aircraft due to their superior air-to-air missiles. The advantage was negated when Iraqi aircraft were armed similarly. There is no credible record of the win/loss record of F-5 Tiger aircraft during the War.

Recently Iraq began manufacturing an aircraft based on the F-5 Tiger called the Saegeh.

F-5 Tiger aircraft were used by Morocco in the Western Sahara War against the Sahrawi indigenous Polisario Front rebel national liberation movement working to end Moroccan presence in the Western Sahara. Several of the aircraft were downed by ground to air missiles.

The F-5 flew for Saudi Arabia against Iraqi forces occupying Kuwait during the 1990 to 1991 First Gulf War. It appears that a single Saudi F-5 Tiger was lost due to ground fire in the conflict.

The United States Air Force, Marines, and Navy used the F-5 Tiger as an aggressor that simulated enemy fighters for the training of pilots.

The Swiss Air Force aerobatics team flies six F-5 Tiger aircraft.

Production of the F-5 Tiger ended in 1987. However, updated parts, which continue to be produced, keep many operational to this date.

In mid 1992 an updated prototype of the F-5 Tiger took to the sky. It used a single engine that produced about 70% more power than the two engines of its predecessor. However the U.S. government had no interest in the aircraft and the project ended with just three prototypes produced.

A total of over 2,700 F-5 aircraft of all types were sold. Over 2,000 were exported to some 30 countries around the world.

To date about 800 F-5 Tiger aircraft continue to operate around the world. Substantial support for the aircraft is provided by a team of companies headed by Northrop Grumman.

In April of 2014 the U.S. Government budgeted about US$3.1 million to keep F-5 Tiger aircraft flying indefinitely.

On Feb. 11, 2020 the U. S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center awarded Northrop Grumman US$9.9 million for F-5 Tiger aircraft parts for Foreign Military Sales support. Work should be finished by Oct. 22, 2023.

The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) showed off two F-5 Tiger aircraft upgraded to TH specifications at the 2020 Singapore Airshow.

Upgrades to the aircraft include an all-glass cockpit with Elbit Systems avionics, a Leonardo AESA (active electronically scanned array) radar and the Link-T datalink.

The RTAF plans to upgrade a total of ten F-5 Tiger aircraft, extending their service life into the 2030’s.

On July 17, 2020 the U. S. Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division awarded PAE Aviation and Technical Services, Greenville, South Carolina, US$25,918,520 “to extend services for organizational, selected intermediate and limited depot maintenance and logistics support for Northrop F-5 Tiger aircraft in support of the Specialized and Proven Aircraft Program”.  Work should be finished by January of 2021. 

F-5-Tiger -Agusto Barbeiro

RC F-5 Tiger

That’s Augusto Barbeiro with his Fei Bao RC F-5 Tiger.  It is an ARF with a wingspan of 59 in. and a length of 96 in.  Retracts are included.  You will need a jet turbine engine for power producing from 27 to 36 lbf. of thrust.

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