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Thu, Apr 04, 2024

F-5 Tiger Jets Return to US

USMC Buys Ragged Old Birds From Swiss Air Force

The US is bringing some of its old F-5 Tiger aircraft back home under a $32.4 million contract to buy 32 decommissioned fighters from the Swiss Federal Office for Armaments.

The first of the planes was taken apart and put into the a C-130J to be flown home, bringing it back for use as any number of odd jobs suited to the small, lightweight fighter. The last batch of decommissioned F-5s was similarly sold to the US Navy in 2008, and went on to be used in adversarial training as a nimble, somewhat cost-effective fighter - at least as cost-effective as jet fighters with hard points go. The F-5's trainer variant, the T-38 Talon, has already been replaced in USAF service by the T-7 Red Hawk.

The F-5s sold to the USMC are likely going to prove to all be Swiss-made birds, since they took much of their licensed production in-house under the Peace Alps program. As far as F-5s go, they're a nicely optioned set: Swiss F-5s have the 'Improved Handling Quality' systems, a flatter, more spacious nosecone, leading edge root extensions, and automatic maneuvering flaps to make them a nicely nimble little runabout compared to earlier marks of the Freedom Fighter and Tiger. While their sensors and avionics aren't much to write home about, that shouldn't be too expensive to rectify should they be pressed into adversary roles like so many of their sister ships.

The most recent fire sale of discontinued F-5s isn't the only one, though. The Swiss have said they plan to retire the type entirely in 2027, which could add even more of their lovely Tigers to the global market.

FMI: www.navair.navy.mil

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