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F-5N Tiger II

The F-5N is a single seat, twin-engine, tactical fighter and attack aircraft providing simulated air-to-air combat training manufactured by Northrop Grumman Corporation. The F-5F is a dual-seat version, twin-engine, tactical fighter commonly used for training and adversary combat tactics. The aircraft serves in an aggressor-training role with simulation capability of current threat aircraft in fighter combat mode. The F-5E was replaced by F-5N, with the transition completed by December 2006. In all the program calls for the replacement of 24 Navy and 12 Marine Corps F-5 aircraft with Swiss F-5 aircraft. Thirty-two aircraft were received by the end of 2007 with the remainder being received by the end of 2008.

As a tactical fighter aircraft, the F-5N accommodates a pilot only in a pressurized, heated and air conditioned cockpit and rocket-powered ejection seat while the F-5F is a two-seat combat-capable fighter. This aircraft has an upward opening canopy, which is hinged at the rear. The design places particular emphasis on maneuverability rather than high speed, notably by the incorporation of maneuvering flaps. Full-span leading-edge flaps work in conjunction with trailing-edge flaps and are operated by a control on the pilot's throttle quadrant. The F-5 also has anti-skid brakes, Initial Navigation System (INS), ALR-87 Radar Warning Receivers (RWR), AN/APQ-159 radar and ALE-40 chaff/flare capability. This aircraft carries AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles on wingtip launchers.

The F-5 was developed by Northrop Grumman for export through the Military Assistance Program (MAP) in February 1965. This aircraft was initially offered as a candidate for a U.S. lightweight fighter, but became extremely popular as an export finding its niche in the overseas market. In December 1970, Northrop Grumman began development and production on the F-5A-21, an aircraft design that emphasized maneuverability rather than high speed and was officially reclassified as the F-5E. The F-5N/Fs are third-generation F-5 fighter aircraft designed for replacement of the F-5A/B/E production models. These aging aircraft will be replaced by low-houred F-5N/F acquired from the Swiss Air Force surplus by United States Navy (USN).

VMFT-401's F-5N aircraft provide dissimilar air-to-air training to MAWTS-1, VMFAT-101, MAG-11,-13,-14 and -31, as well as multiple U.S. Navy and USAF squadrons. In FY 2005, this support accounted for 4,241 of their operational sorties. The trend in the world is for Tier 1 and other nations to upgrade the avionics and weapons systems of their older Category III frontline fighters. F-5 Radar and EA jammer upgrades allows 4th generation radar simulation, increasing F-5 FLE and training readiness for the FRS and Fleet Squadrons. Meeting 4th generation bandit simulation requirement with the F-5 will reduce the need to use FA-18 aircraft and save fatigue life. These upgrades include the addition of Semi-Active Radar (SAR) I & II missile class and Active Radar (AR) 1 class missiles. The current radar system employed by the F-5N cannot simulate advanced threat aircraft required for training by the USMC F/A-18 Training and Readiness Syllabus. A new radar system provides a low cost alternative when compared to any other platform in use in the adversary role.

Upgrade of 24 F-5N aircraft with an improved Inertial Navigation System (INS) and instrumentation to enhance readiness and sortie completion rates, reduce risk in all weather operations and enhance the reliability and supportability of the navigation system.

The Swiss F-5N Replacement Program replaced the legacy high-time Navy F-5Es with low-time [with approximately 2500 Flight Hour per Frame] F-5Ns allowing the USN/USMC to operate the F-5N aircraft to Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. The Phase Depot Maintenance (PDM) required modifications to USN configuration provides a safer, lower-flight time Adversary aircraft with increased capability for Department of Navy (DoN) pilots. These aircraft are assigned to Government facilities, namely, NAS Key West, Florida, MCAS Yuma, Arizona, and NAS Fallon, Nevada.

Naval Air Systems Command's (NAVAIR) Support and Commercial Derivative Aircraft Support Office Adversary Team completed in 2008 a six year program to buy and refurbish 44 retired Swiss Air Force F-5 Freedom Fighters. These F-5N aircraft enable the Navy to fly in a dedicated adversary role until at least Fiscal Year 2015. The F-5N is a single seat, twin-engine, tactical fighter and attack aircraft providing simulated air-to-air combat training manufactured by Northrop Grumman Corporation. The F-5F is a dual-seat version, twin-engine aircraft. The F-5N/Fs are third-generation F-5 fighter aircraft designed for replacement of the F-5A/B/E production models.

Aging aircraft have been replaced by low-flight-hour F-5N/F aircraft acquired from the Swiss Air Force surplus by the United States Navy (USN). As a tactical fighter aircraft, the F-5N accommodates a pilot only in a pressurized, heated and air conditioned cockpit and rocket-powered ejection seat while the F-5F is a two-seat combat- capable fighter. The Swiss F-5N Replacement Program replaced high-time Navy F-5Es with low-time F-5Ns allowing the USN/United States Marine Corps (USMC) to operate the F-5N aircraft to Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. These aircraft are assigned to Government facilities to Naval Air Station (NAS) Key West, Florida, Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma, Arizona, and NAS Fallon, Nevada.

Switzerland was among the countries operating F-5Es, with a fleet of more than seventy of the aircraft. Acquired as fighters, the F-5Es increasingly were relegated to training missions, as the Swiss took delivery of F-18s, making much of the F-5E fleet expendable.

In addition, the Swiss F-5Es averaged only about 2,500 hours on the airframe, while the U.S. Navy's Tiger IIs averaged about 7,000 flight hours. The Swiss aircraft also were built with Improved Handling Quality systems, sharper noses, and improved leading edge roots on the wings and automatic flaps, giving them better performance than the U.S. Navy's F-5Es. Northrop Grumman engineers determined that they could combine parts from one Swiss F-5E and one U.S. Navy F-5E to create a refurbished aircraft.

Deliveries of the Swiss F-5Es commenced in 2003 at the rate of about one per month. The aircraft were disassembled at the RUAG facility in Emmen, Switzerland (RUAG is the Swiss Air Force's industry partner), packed in a frame designed and built by Northrop Grumman, and flown aboard a U.S. Navy C-130T to St. Augustine, where the conversion work was performed.

After completing disassembly and stripping all paint off the parts, the airframe, control surfaces, and components were inspected by X-ray and other non-destructive testing (NDT) methods. Fatigue critical components were replaced, and areas of the aft fuselage subject to high fatigue were refurbished. Newly designed upper cockpit longerons were installed, increasing the airframe's integrity. The aircraft also were given an avionics upgrade, bringing them into the twenty-first century. A navigation/radar display kit replaced five legacy components - the inertial navigation system, inertial navigation display system (INDS) adapter, magnetic azimuth indicator, radar video indicator, and radar control - with two state-of-the-art line replaceable units (LRUs).

The kit includes the LN-260, Northrup Grumman's new inertial navigation system. Completely integrated with a twenty-four-channel, selective availability/anti-spoofing module-compliant embedded GPS receiver, the LN-260 uses an advanced fiber optic gyroscope-based inertial sensor assembly. Its open-system architecture is designed to be readily adaptable to new applications and new system requirements that improve performance of mission equipment and flight control systems. A new integrated control display unit and radar display were part of the panel upgrade.

The aircraft also were completely rewired. A new gaseous oxygen system replaced the legacy liquid oxygen system to reduce costs, and an anti-skid braking system was added to help bring the aircraft to a safe stop on wet runways.

Each conversion took about 5 months. The resulting variant of the single-seat F-5E is the F-5N. Forty-one were created, along with three two-seat trainers, which retain the two-seater's designation as the F-5F. Sixteen of the converted aircraft were based with VFC-111, the "Sundowners" at U.S. Naval Air Station Key West, Florida. Their pilots fly adversary-training missions against carrier battle group pilots during the groups' pre-deployment exercises. The other refurbished Tiger IIs were assigned to VFC-13, the "Fighting Saints" at U.S. Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, home of the U.S. Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC), and to the U.S. Marine adversary squadron VMFT 401 in Yuma, Arizona.



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