By lex, on May 7th, 2009
When I was an adversary pilot down in Key West back in the early 90s, the F-16Ns were relatively new, the A-4E Skyhawks getting a little long in the tooth (although still wonderfully nimble, in trained hands) and the F-5E Tiger II was somewhere in between.
If you’d have told me nearly twenty years on that the Vipers and Scooters would be gone, but that the F-5s would still be around, I’d have been gobsmacked.
(Not really. I just like writing “gobsmacked.”)
But I guess we’re still not done:*
In a unique reverse Foreign Military Sales program, the U.S. Navy bought 44 former Swiss Air Force F-5Es over a six year period for $50 million. The Swiss Air Force originally bought 110 F-5Es under an FMS program from the U.S. Air Force in 1970’s. The last F-5N Tiger II was delivered to the U.S. Navy in a ceremony held in St. Augustine, Fla., on April 29. A Northrop Grumman-led team modified 41 into single-seat F-5Ns and three more into two-seat F-5Fs for the Navy’s adversary squadrons, flying until at least 2015.
Don’t get me wrong, the F-5 is a fine little machine. Cheap, simple to operate and practically invisible nose- or tail-on, it was a fun way to sneak up and stick an Atoll in someone’s back. It went like a striped-assed baboon if you gave it the goose (and gave it enough time), but it was quick without being nimble, was one of the few aircraft that the FA-18C could run out of gas and the weapons system was as austere as a Presbyterian’s liquor locker.
And get in a turning fight with a fourth generation fighter that actually sees you? Only a matter of time, and no loss of dignity in losing.
Which of course, we all took hard.
Nope, for your true training value these days I give it over to Dawg * and the bubbas up at Tactical Air Support.**
Flankers, ** baby.
* 09-05-2018 Links Gone; no replacements found – Dawg referred to a Lex post 02-17-2007 – jo-love – Ed.
** 09-05-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.