Still Flying Tiger IIs

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.

                       

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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Flying, International Affairs, Naval Aviation

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