Northrop RF-5A 'Freedom Fighter'

  Base model:F-5
  Nickname:Freedom Fighter
  Designation System:U.S. Tri-Service
  Designation Period:1962-Present
  Basic role:Fighter
  Modified Mission:Reconnaissance

Not Yet Available

Known serial numbers
67-21219 / 67-21231, 67-21232 / 67-21235, 68-9097 / 68-9113, 68-10489 / 68-10490, 69-6487 / 69-6502, 69-7137 / 69-7173 , 69-7178 / 69-7180 , 70-1614 / 70-1622 , 71-0277 / 71-0279 , 71-1029 / 71-1032 , 71-1035 / 71-1038


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 cairo, CT
Thank u so much
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06/24/2012 @ 05:19 [ref: 61546]
 james a. ford
 Californiaa City, CA
I was the USAF project engineer for the nose camera system tests of the protype RF-5A at Edwards AFB in 1968. My pilots were Major Cecil Powell and Major Hubert (Chick) Thornber. We tested the camera system against specific targets, including the High Sierra mountain trails in California, and several landmarks along the California coast.
06/28/2004 @ 23:13 [ref: 7715]
 petal, MS
Even though the Hawker Hunter had served admirably in the air defence role, it was always intended to be a stop-gap aircraft, and in 1979 the RSAF took delivery of 21 F-5E/F Tiger II supersonic jet interceptors (18 single-seat F-5Es and 3 two-seat F-5Fs). These were delivered in disassembled form by USAF C-5 Galaxies into Singapore, where the aircraft were reassembled. These deliveries were the culmination of negotiations which began in 1976 for the aircraft along with 200 AIM-9J Sidewinder missiles. These aircraft formed 144 Squadron at Tengah AB in the west of Singapore.

Even as the new fighters were arriving, 6 more F-5Es were ordered at the end of 1979, these being delivered in 1981, complete with improvements such as composite wing flaps, extended dorsal fin and wing leading edges. 3 more F-5Fs soon followed in 1982, and these aircraft were the first to be flown into Singapore, 6 RSAF pilots taking over the aircraft at RAF Leuchars, Scotland. The flight from the UK took the pilots over 16 countries with stopovers in 8, covering a grand total of 9200 miles (16000km).

Another 6 F-5Es joined the fleet in 1985, enabling a second squadron (No. 149) to be formed. The new aircraft took part in a Red Flag exercise at Nellis AFB, Nevada before flying back home. With the new squadron achieving operational status late that year, 144 Sqn moved to Paya Lebar in the NorthEast, with 149 Sqn staying put at Tengah. A further batch of F-5Es were delivered in 1989, when Northrop, despite having closed its F-5 production line, managed to build 5 aircraft from stock parts, bringing the inventory to over 40 aircraft. By this time, the 70s vintage F-5 was becoming obsolete, and Singapore Aerospace, which successfully re-engined the RSAF's A-4 fleet, embarked on a project to upgrade the RSAF's F-5s. The upgrade package comprises:

* A new Air-Intercept radar. The Italian Grifo F/X, similar to the one used on the AMX, with 10 air-to-air and 14 air-surface/navigation modes.

* A Litton LN-93 INS, similar to the A-4SU Super Skyhawk

* A HOTAS(Hand On Throttle And Stick) system, which reduces pilot workload.

* New cockpit MFDs and HUD, radically changing the cockpit layout.

* Elisra SPS-2000 Rear Warning Radar(RWR)

* Compatibility with the AIM-120 AMRAAM

This upgrades were well underway in 1994, which was an eventful year for the RSAF's F-5s. 149 Sqn followed 144 Sqn into Paya Lebar from Tengah, with the F-16s of 140 Sqn moving the other way. This was followed by the purchase of 7 surplus F-5Es from the Royal Jordanian AF. In addition to the upgrade package, 6 F-5Es were converted into RF-5E photo-recon aircraft by deleting the guns and fitting a camera and IIR linescan sensor pack in the nose. These Tigereyes however retain their missile capability. Finally, 141 Sqn, an ex-Hawker Hunter unit, was reformed late that year and currently operates a mixed batch of RF-5s and a handful of F-5Es in the photo-reconnaissance/interception role.

Today all 3 F-5 squadrons operate out of Paya Lebar. All F-5s serve as interceptors with a secondary attack role armed with bombs, rockets and AGM-65 Mavericks Air-to-Surface missiles. In addition, 144 Sqn acts as a conversion unit for the type, operating most of the F-5Fs in service. Initially painted in a 3 tone grey scheme(similar to USAF Aggressors), the F-5 fleet started appearing in 1995 sporting a new 2-tone grey scheme, similar to the F-16. It is believed that the repainting was completed by late-1996, with the F-5Es of 149 Sqn being the last to adopt the scheme. In addition, various experimental colour schemes were tried in the 1980s, with 3-tone blue, USAF- style SEA camouflage and even natural metal finishes appearing on a few aircraft throughout the 80s/early 90s.

By 1999, the STAe upgrade programme for the F-5s was complete, all 49 aircraft (including the RF-5) having gone through the upgrade. All 3 squadrons reached FOC(Final Operating Capability) soon after. In addition to the 7 airframes reported from Jordan in 1994, 10 more were reported received from Taiwan in 1998 as part payment for STAe?s conversion of 8 RoCAF F-5Es to RF-5E standards. However, these aircraft are unlikely to have been pressed into service, being likely to be used as attrition spares instead as F-5 numbers dwindle around the world.

Despite its age, the F-5 remains a potent adversary. Its small size makes it very manoeuvrable and hard to spot, making it as deadly as other newer types in close combat. Coupled with the upgrade package, which is also rumoured to include Rafael Python 4 short range AAMs and Helmet Mounted Sight, the F-5 will likely be able to give as good as it gets with any opposing aircraft. Like the A-4SU Super Skyhawk, the modified F-5 will serve on with the RSAF into the next century and beyond.

RSAF F-5 Squadrons
141 Sqn

Type operated : RF-5S Tigereye/F-5S Tiger II
Home base : Paya Lebar AB
Motto : Detect to Deter
Year of formation : 1972

Operating a mix of RF-5S Tigereyes and F-5S Tigers out of Paya Lebar, 141 Sqn is an ex-Hunter unit which converted to their upgraded mounts in the mid-1990s. It's armed Tigereyes operate in the photo-reconnaissance role in gathering intelligence for the RSAF. A handful of F-5S interceptors and a single F-5T completes the Order of Battle.

144 Sqn

Type operated : F-5S/T Tiger II
Home base : Paya Lebar AB
Motto : Dare to Excel
Year of formation : 1979

The RSAF's first F-5 unit, 144 Sqn was originally based at Tengah in the west of Singapore until 1994, when it moved to Paya Lebar, joining its sister F-5 units. Fulfiling the interceptor role, 144 Sqn also doubles as the F-5 OCU(Operational Conversion Unit), operating the bulk of the RSAF's 9 F-5T two seaters alongside its F-5S interceptors.

149 Sqn

Type operated : F-5E/F Tiger II
Home base : Paya Lebar AB
Motto : Steadfast
Year of formation : 1985

The second RSAF Tiger II unit, formed in 1985, 149 Sqn serves as the primary F-5 interceptor unit with its inventory of approximately 15 F-5S Tiger II fighters. Believed to have at least one F-5T twin-seater on strength, 149 Sqn also undertakes a secondary attack role with AGM-65 Maverick ASMs and unguided bombs.

Photo Gallery

* 9 F-5Es in diamond formation over Singapore.(52K)

* 800 on the apron at Paya Lebar carrying the 3-tone grey camouflage. (53K)

* F-5S No. 813 carrying a MER and the old 3-tone grey camouflage. This aircraft is believed to be one of the prototype F-5S(50K)

* 872 is one of the 8 RF-5E Tigereye photo-recon aircraft operated by 141 Sqn.(38K)

* One of 141 Sqns F-5Es, 803 which operates alongside the 8 RF-5 Tigereyes. (49K)

* 852 is a 2-seat F-5F. It carries a dummy AIM-9 portside and a ACMI pod. (46K)

* A pair of RF-5E Tigereyes, 840 and 841 landing at Paya Lebar. (18K)

* F-5S 874 of 144 Sqn approaches PLA. This aircraft was the last F-5 to be built by Northrop. (37K)

Copyright 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 Mike Yeo. Unauthorised use of images and text on this page without prior consent from the webmaster is prohibited.

07/27/2002 @ 20:15 [ref: 5380]