This Day in Aviation History
July 30th, 1959
First flight of the Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter.
The Northrop F-5A/B Freedom Fighter and the F-5E/F Tiger II are part of a supersonic light fighter family, initially designed in the late 1950s by Northrop Corporation. Being smaller and simpler than contemporaries such as the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, the F-5 cost less to both procure and operate, making it a popular export aircraft. The F-5 started life as a privately funded light fighter program by Northrop in the 1950s. The design team wrapped a small, highly aerodynamic fighter around two compact and high-thrust General Electric J85 engines, focusing on performance and low cost of maintenance. Though primarily designed for the day air superiority role, the aircraft is also a capable ground-attack platform. The F-5A entered service in the early 1960s. During the Cold War, over 800 were produced through 1972 for U.S. allies. Though the USAF had no acknowledged need for a light fighter, it did procure roughly 1,200 Northrop T-38 Talon trainer aircraft, which were directly based on the F-5A. The F-5 itself serves mainly as an aggressor aircraft while in US service, but has seen successful combat over Vietnam during the early years of the program. It serves a wide array of roles depending on which nation it serves, but it can perform both air and ground attack duties. It has been used successfully in both conventional combat and against unconventional warfare.
After winning the International Fighter Aircraft competition in 1970, a program aimed at providing effective low-cost fighters to American allies, Northrop introduced the second-generation F-5E Tiger II in 1972. This upgrade included more powerful engines, higher fuel capacity, greater wing area and improved leading edge extensions for a better turn rate, optional air-to-air refueling, and improved avionics including air-to-air radar. Primarily used by American allies, it was also used in US training exercises. A total of 1,400 Tiger IIs were built before production ended in 1987. More than 3,800 F-5 and T-38 aircraft were produced in Hawthorne, California….
Wikipedia, Northrop F-5: http://gstv.us/1SgES6j
YouTube, F-5A Freedom Fighter: http://gstv.us/1SgEAfx
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