|Year/Model:||1963 F-5E Tiger II|
|Power Plant:||Two 4,080-lb J85-GE-13 turbojets|
|Wingspan:||25 feet 3 inches|
|Length:||46 feet 11 inches|
|Height:||13 feet 2 inches|
|Gross Weight:||13,433 pounds|
|Maximum Speed:||925 mph|
|Maximum Range:||1,387 statute miles|
|Service Ceiling:||50,500 feet|
|Owner:||On loan from National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, FL|
The development of the Northrop F-5 began in 1954 when a Northrop team toured Europe and Asia to examine the defense needs of NATO and SEATO countries. A 1955 company design study for a lightweight supersonic fighter that would be relatively inexpensive, easy to maintain, and capable of operating out of short runways. The Air Force did not initially look favorably upon the proposal, since it did not need a lightweight fighter. However, it did need a new trainer to replace the Lockheed T-33, and in June of 1956 the Air Force announced that it was going to acquire the trainer version, the T-38 Talon.
On April 25, 1962, the Department of Defense announced that it had chosen the aircraft for its Military Assistance Program (MAP). America's NATO and SEATO allies would now be able to acquire a supersonic warplane of world-class quality at a reasonable cost. On August 9, 1962 the aircraft was given the official designation of F-5A Freedom Fighter. Optimized for the air-to-ground role, the F-5A had only a very limited air-to-air capability, and was not equipped with a fire-control radar. The F-5B was the two-seat version of the F-5A. It was generally similar to the single-seat F-5A but had two seats in tandem for dual fighter/trainer duties. Countries receiving the F-5A under MAP included Iran, South Korea, the Philippines, Turkey, Greece, and the Republic of China. Norway, Spain, and Canada made direct purchases of the airplane.
In 1970, Northrop won the International Fighter Aircraft (IFA) competition to replace the F-5A, with better air-to-air performance against aircraft like the Soviet MiG-21. The resultant aircraft, initially known as F-5A-21, subsequently became the F-5E. It had more powerful (5,000 lbf) General Electric J85-21 engines, and had a lengthened and enlarged fuselage, accommodating more fuel. Its wings were fitted with enlarged leading edge extensions, giving an increased wing area and improved maneuverability. The aircraft's avionics were more sophisticated, crucially including a radar (initially the Emerson Electric AN/APQ-153) (the F-5A and B had no radar). It retained the gun armament of two M39 cannons, one on either side of the nose of the F-5A. Various specific avionics fits could be accommodated at a customer's request, including an inertial navigation system, TACAN and ECM equipment.
The first F-5E flew on 11 August 1972. A two-seat combat-capable trainer, the F-5F, was offered, first flying on 25 September 1974, at Edwards Air Force Base, with a new nose, that was three feet longer, which, unlike the F-5B that did not mount a gun, allowed it to retain a single M39 cannon, albeit with a reduced ammunition capacity. The two-seater was equipped with the Emerson AN/APQ-157 radar, which is a derivative of the AN/APQ-153 radar, with dual control and display systems to accommodate the two-men crew, and the radar has the same range of AN/APQ-153, around 10 nmi. On 6 April 1973, the 425th TFS at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona, received the first F-5E Tiger II.