Northrop F-5 Tiger II Fighter
Though the F-5E was certainly outdated by the end of the First Robotech War, it continued in service through much the Malcontent Uprisings and briefly through the early years of the United Earth Defense Force. Its reliability and ease of operation made it a viable ground attack platform during the Malcontent Uprisings. It also served, as it had throughout its operational history, as an aggressor fighter. In 2019 the type was finally retired from the United Earth Defense Force (UEDF) inventory after the consolidation of the Unified Forces under the Treaty of the Southern Cross.
- Role: Light fighter
- National origin: United States
- Manufacturer: Northrop Corporation
- First flight: F-5A – 30 July 1959, F-5E – 11 August 1972
- Introduction: 1962
- Retired: 2019
- Primary users, post 2011: United States Navy (aggressor squadrons, retired 2014), Brazilian Air Force (operated through 2017), Republic of China Air Force (operated through 2017), Republic of Singapore Air Force (retired 2015), Mexican Air Force (retired 2016), UEDF Tactical Air Force (retired 2019)
- Produced: 1959–1987
- Number built: 2,246
A little over 70 examples of the F-5 survived the First Robotech War. These included 19 F-5Ns operated as aggressor aircraft by the United States Navy, 26 F-5EMs in service with the Brazilian Air Force, 16 F-5E Tiger 2000s in service with the Republic of China Air Force, 12 F-5Ss in service with the Republic of Singapore Air Force and 12 F-5Hs in service with the Mexican Air Force. Two squadrons, one from Brazil and one from Singapore, were integrated into the UEDF Tactical Air Force (TAF) and continued to operate their F-5s through 2019. Though the F-5’s story ended in 2019, several TAF and UEDF Navy squadrons continued to operate advance versions of the type’s F-20 Tiger Shark progeny through the Second Robotech War.
Brazil operated three Esquadrões of upgraded F-5EMs and F-5FMs during the Malcontent Uprisings. These Tigers had been modernized in the early 2000s by Elbit Systems and Embraer. The modernization centered on several areas: new electronic warfare systems, the Grifo F radar, an air-to-air refueling system, INS/GPS-based navigation, support for new weapons, targeting and self-defense systems, HOTAS, LCD displays, helmet-mounted displays (HMDs), Radar Warning Receiver, encrypted communications, cockpit compatibility for night vision goggles and various new onboard computer upgrades. One important capability was the secure communication with EC-33 Tiger’s Eye airborne early warning platforms and ground stations. These F-5s were used primarily for ground attack and close air support (CAS). While not particularly long legged in comparison to modern fusion turbine powered aircraft of the time, their simplicity and ruggedness led to perhaps the best availability rate of any CAS platform during the war. Due to this, the mighty F-5 flew a much higher portion of ground attack missions than their tiny numbers and old age would lead one to expect.Variants in use after 2012
- F-5E/F Tiger II: Single-seat fighter version with AN/APQ-159 and two General Electric J85-GE-21B turbojet with 3,500 lb (16 kN) of thrust each.
- F-5G: The temporary designation given to the Northrop F-20 Tigershark, armed with General Electric AN/APG-67 radar.
- F-5H/I: F-5E/F upgraded with F-20 avionics suite and two General Electric J85-GE-J1A turbojet with 5,000 lb (22 kN) of thrust each.
- F-5N: F-5Es used by the U.S. Navy as “aggressor” aircraft, with AN/APG-69 replacing the original AN/APQ-159.
- F-5S: Upgraded version of the F-5E in use by the Republic of Singapore Air Force, equipped with the Galileo Avionica’s FIAR Grifo-F X-band radar and are capable of firing the AIM-120 AMRAAM.
- F-5EM: Upgraded version of the F-5E of Brazilian Air Force armed with Italian Grifo-F radar.
- F-5E Tiger 2000: Upgraded version of Taiwan AIDC, equipped with the GD-53 radar, capable of firing the TC-2 Sky Sword II, MIL-STD-1553B Link and GPS/INS
Robotech (R) is the property of Harmony Gold. This document is in no way intended to infringe upon their rights.
Original artwork by: Kaoru Shintani
Content by Tim Wing
Copyright © 2018 Tim Wing