Tag Archives: Northrop F-5

Russian Video Of Captured U.S. F-5 Tiger Jet Dogfighting Against MiG-21 in Tests Raises Question: Do They Still Operate American Jets?

Russia Operated Captured U.S. Aircraft for “OPFOR” Evaluation.

As we have reported previously, it is no secret the U.S. has made and still make use of captured or otherwise acquired Russian aircraft for test, evaluation and training purposes including the development of U.S. radars, countermeasures and early warning systems (earlier this year we published some really rare images of a Russian Su-27 Flanker dogfighting with a U.S. F-16 inside Area 51…)

Has Russia done the same with U.S. aircraft? Absolutely.

The RT video below contains some quite famous footage of a Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter formerly stationed at Bien Hoa Air Base in Vietnam being operated in Soviet markings against a MiG-21 (NATO codename “Fishbed”). The aircraft was seized along with “several US military aircraft”, taken to the USSR and used in a test and evaluation project to determine the capabilities of the F-5 series compared to Warsaw Pact aircraft.

Bien Hoa Air Base was overrun by Communist forces on Apr. 25, 1975 as the Vietnam War (referred to as the “American War” in Vietnam) neared its end.

A number of F-5A and F-5E aircraft attributed to the 522nd Fighter Squadron were left behind intact at the air base. Because the F-5E version of the aircraft had only flown for the first time three years earlier in 1973 and was being marketed to other Western user nations it was of significant interest to the Warsaw Pact.

Was the F-5 a threat to the Russian mainstay MiG-21? This video shows testing to answer that question in Russia.

At least one of the F-5s, in Soviet markings, was tested in opposing forces simulation with the MiG-21 as shown in this video.

Soviet pilots from Chkalov’s Russian Flight Test Center near the Volga River, a facility similar to the secret test ranges at Tonopah and Edwards AFB, were reportedly impressed by the performance of the F-5 against the MiG-21. Interestingly, Soviet engineers assumed the MiG-21 was more advanced but the F-5 won every time in the simulated air combat carried out in USSR. According to some reports the Russian pilots who flew the F-5 against the MiG-21 were named Vladimir Kandaurov, Alexander Bezhevets and Nikolay Stogov. The findings of these fly-offs and simulated combat were said to contribute to the development of the MiG-23 for the Russians, an aircraft that was imported to several Arab nations friendly with the USSR.

Noteworthy, the F-5 was so similar to the MiG-21, it was used as

Another curious development from behind the Iron Curtain was this photo of a what seems to be a McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom aircraft (or mock-up) under a tarp at the famous Zhukovskiy airfield near Moscow. The photo is allegedly from Aug. 11, 1971. It includes a French-built Mirage aircraft, also under cover, parked next to it. The massive Myasishchev M-4 Molot strategic bomber in front of the F-4 and the Mirage add some scale to the image.

An F-4 Phantom II and a French Mirage III sit under cover behind a Russian Myasishchev M-4 heavy bomber in Russia. (International Air Power Review Photo)

There have also been some interesting hoax aircraft flown in the Photoshop air force with Russian markings. The most famous is an F-14 Tomcat said to be taken from the Iranian Air Force following the fall of the Shah of Iran during the Iranian Revolution in 1978. While the photo looks convincing and the story is certainly plausible, most analysts agree it is faked.

A Photoshopped image of a Grumman F-14 with fake Russian Markings. Internet contributors contended the aircraft went to Russia from Iran for testing but the story proved to be untrue and the photo manipulated. (The Aviation Forum)

Perhaps the most interesting question is, does Russia own current frontline U.S. tactical aircraft as a part of its opposing forces unit? Are there Russian-marked F-16s or F-15s flying somewhere in Russia? The answer is, likely no.

The U.S. has been careful about the distribution of tactical aircraft to nations that may realign with Russia from the U.S. if their strategic alliances shift. And while relations with Russia and the U.S. have been much more open since the end of the Cold War there are still many reasons why the U.S. and Russia are vigorous about maintaining security about their respective combat aircraft.

Have you ever heard reports or rumors about American aircraft in the hands of the Russians? Let us know.


F-5 Tiger jets perform ultra low level flyby pruning trees in the process

This is probably the coolest way to trim your trees.

The video in this post was filmed at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Mombasa (Moi International Airport), one of the airbases in Kenya.

It shows two F-5E Tiger II of the Kenyan Air Force perform an ultra-low level pass on a one-story building at Mombasa, whose effect is also to remove branches from trees surrounding it.

The KAF is equipped with about 20 F-5E and F-5F (two-seat version) Tigers, some of those formerly operating with the Royal Jordanian Air Force and upgraded to F-5EM standard before delivery to Kenya.

The Kenyan Air Force uses the F-5 fighter jets even in the air-to-surface role, carrying rockets and unguided bombs used to carry out attacks on Somali extremists.


Why the F-5 Tiger was the perfect plane to simulate Soviet “Bandits” in adversary missions

Developed as an advanced version of the F-5 fighter, the Northrop F-5E was selected to be the International Fighter Aircraft to follow the F-5A, and over 950 Tiger II were delivered to a wide variety of countries around the world. Moreover the F-5E demonstrated to be the perfect fighter to provide Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT), that’s why U.S. Navy and Marines still use it as adversary in mock air-to-air engagements.

U.S. Naval Aviation is the main Tiger II operator among the U.S. Armed Forces and it flies the N variant, a type of F-5E previously operated by the Swiss Air Force.

As pointed out by Chad Mingo, a pilot from Fighter Composite Squadron 13 (VFC-13) Saints (that with the VFC-111 Sundowners and with the VMFT-401, is one of the last three U.S. units to fly the F-5), in Rick Llinares book “Strike Beyond Top Gun”, the key advantage of the F-5 is to be relatively inexpensive to fly.

Nevertheless according to Mingo there are several differences between the E and N models: “The N model is a little heavier than the E and has several improvements, including RWR gear (radar warning receiver) and enhanced radars, as well as antiskid systems, which provide enhanced handling on wet runways.

The F-5N is distinguishable with its squashed, platypus nose and extended leading-edge extensions, which provide enhanced maneuverability.

The F-5 is a solid simulator of third-generation threats and has good speed, although it takes a while to get up to it. The IHQ (improved handling quality) upgrade has enhanced the jet’s ability.”

Michael “Physco” Picciano, another US Navy F-5 driver and a former F-14 pilot, explains to Llinares the main role and which are the main advantages of the Tiger in DACT engagements: “We represent third-generation aircraft of the former Soviet Union. One of the best things about the F-5 is that it is very hard to see. This one of the biggest learning objectives for the missions we fly – to show just how easily we can obtain unobserved entry onto the fighters. It is interesting for the FRS (Fleet Replacement Squadron), as well as the fleet pilots, because they often spend their time fighting against similar aircraft, and their eyes almost get trained to look for the same color and size aircraft. When you throw an F-5 into the mix, it makes it more difficult for them. We are so much smaller than what they are used to; we look different, and our paint schemes blend in, especially against the desert or against the overcast.”

As adversary aircraft the F-5 is becoming old, but in the right hands it can still be a serious threat for more modern fighters, as told by Physco: “Another interesting thing with the F-5 is that we are a simple, less advanced aircraft, and when you kill a fighter like an F/A-18 it definitely gets their attention. Losing against the F-16 (also used by the US Navy as adversary aircraft) seems less personal, as though they lost against a superb aircraft, whereas against the F-5, it’s against an older, less capable fighter.”

As explained in the first part of this post, the F-5 has been (and still is) in service with many air forces worldwide (including the U.S. Air Force, that employed them as Agressors) and maybe the Soviet Air Force has been the most “exotic” one.

In fact, in the video below, you can see a F-5E (alongside with an A-37 Dragonfly) wearing the Soviet colors, and this time is not an aggressor/adversary paint scheme. When North Vietnamese captured Bien Hoa Air Base, they also caught several US aircraft and provided several Warsaw Pact countries with U.S. airplanes for evaluations.

According to the description on Liveleak.com, the F-5 depicted in the video and two others were tested at Chkalov State Flight Tests Centre, which is similar to the US Air Force Test Centre at Edwards Air Force Base.

This F-5 was flown by several Soviet test pilots, such as Vladimir Kandaurov, Alexander Bezhevets and Nikolay Stogov, who conducted several engagements as bandit against the MiG-21 Fishbed, the aircraft which the Tiger II personified in the US exercises: according to Soviet pilots, the F-5 demonstrated to be able to outmaneuver the Fishbed most of the times, and the results of these test brought to the MiG-23 Flogger development.

Image credit: U.S. Navy


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Spanish pilot achieves impressive milestone: 4,000 flying hours on the Northrop Grumman F-5 Freedom Fighter

On Jul. 11, 2013, Lt. Col. Jesus Antonio Caballero, head of the Research Group & Air Forces of the Spanish Air Force (Ejercito del Aire) 23 Wing in Talavera Air Base, completed 4,000 flying hours on the F-5 aircraft . This accreditation, obtained individually, is a unique landmark in the Spanish Air Force and even internationally, as to date, there is no evidence that any other pilot from countries that operate or have operated different versions of F-5, to have reached that milestone.

The historical flight during which Caballero reached 4,000 flying hours consisted of a air-to-air nterception training mission, included in the Plan of Instruction for IPs (instructor pilots) of the 23 Wing.

SpAF F-5 pilot

Lieutenant Colonel Caballero made his first flight in F-5 back in 1987, after being assigned to the 23 Wing as a student. He continued with that fighter in the 21 Wing Air Base in Morón and in the Center of Logistics Armaments and Experimentation (CLAEX) in Torrejon Air Base. From 1993 he returned to the 23 Wing as an IP, having piloted the F-5 A/RF/B & M versions of this veteran aircraft.

The 23 Wing’s main mission is to provide training, both theoretical and flights (Fighter & Attack Phase) to students in the 5th year of the Spanish Air Force Air Academy selected to perform the said phase.

Bought in the sixties, the Spanish Government took the decision to provide to the Spanish Air Force +50 F-5 A & B fighters built under license by CASA.

First units provided fighter missions in Moron and Canary Islands Air Bases. Later, all the F-5 units marched to Talavera to replace veterans T-33.

In recent years the F-5 has undergone a complete modernization, especially its avionics, to suit the teaching Fighter & Attack skills as a step towards next-generation aircrafts such as the F/A-18A+ Hornet and the Eurofighter Typhoon. This new version of the aircraft is called F-5M

All fighter pilots that currently fly in the Spanish Air Force were formed in the F-5M.

El Lince Analista for TheAviationist.com

Picture Credit: Spanish Air Force


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