First introduced in 1962, the F-5A/B Tiger II was a popular aircraft for the South Vietnamese Air Force pilots during the Vietnam War. It was a fast and nimble daytime air-to-air fighter aircraft. This supersonic lightweight fighter was also cheaper to purchase and maintain than its contemporary, the F-4 Phantom.
Beginning in 1972, the Republic of Vietnam began to receive its first of many F-5E Tiger IIs. They were equipped with a more advanced avionics suite but this also made them more difficult to maintain. Because of the cost to maintain, the F-5Es were flown less while the older F-5A/Bs continued to see more air combat against the MiG-21 over Vietnam.
Leading up to the end of the Vietnam War, most F-5s were moved out of the country and returned to the United States. Still, once the South Vietnamese government fell in 1975, there were 87 F-5As and 27 F-5Es remaining in Vietnam. Following the war, they would become part of the Vietnamese People’s Air Force, which would possess both the F-5 and the Soviet-built MiG-21. Of the two, it is said the Vietnamese pilots preferred to fly the F-5E/Fs over the MiGs. The F-5s proved to have more comfortable cockpits and handled better in flight.
Not all the F-5E/Fs remained in Vietnam. Some were sold to other countries like Iran and Ethiopia for spare parts for their respective F-5 fleets. Then, there would be those sent to the Soviet Union, which wanted to study the F-5E more closely. Many would be torn apart to learn what made it a dominating fighter over the MiG-21. At least one F-5 would end up being used as an aggressor against the MiG-21 for evaluation and to train Russian pilots. Those Russian Pilots who flew the F-5s were very pleased with its performance. The F-5 would win each simulated engagement against the MiG-21. The data acquired during this evaluation period of the F-5 would be used to develop the MiG-23 Flogger.
Utilizing an adversary’s aircraft to improve your pilot’s training is not new. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States arranged to buy 21 of Moldova’s 34 MiG-29 Fulcrums. Moldova, a small country that was part of the Eastern Bloc in Europe, was not financially able to maintain the MiG-29 fleet. The U.S. was worried they would sell the MiG-29, a nuclear-capable fighter, to Iran. The remaining aircraft would go to the countries of Eritrea and Yemen. The U.S. would use this opportunity to evaluate the MiG-29 aircraft for its strengths and weaknesses and to teach Americans pilots and its allies how to defeat it.
There is also the Russian Su-27 Flanker that was bought by the U.S. from Ukraine. Technically similar to the F-15 Eagle, America acquired the Su-27 and pitted it against the F-16 in mock combat. In this article, These crazy photos show a Russian Su-27 Flanker dogfighting with a U.S. Air Force F-16 inside Area 51. You’ll see photos captured by Phil Drake of aerial combat between a Su-27 Flanker and an F-16 Fighting Falcon over Nevada.
In the link below you will see an F-5 Tiger II with Russian markings being tested against the MiG-21 as part of opposing forces simulation exercises.
Russian Video Of Captured U.S. F-5 Tiger Jet Dogfighting Against MiG-21 in Tests Raises Question: Do They Still Operate American Jets?
The low cost of operation of the F-5 makes it a popular supersonic aircraft for the United States and more than 30 other countries like Brazil, Chile, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Norway, Republic of China, and Switzerland. For most who still maintain the F-5, it is a critical part of their defense strategy.
Even with tight funding, systems must be maintained to ensure mission-critical components are ready to keep those fighters in the air. Duotech supports existing systems like the APQ-159 radar of the F-5 Tiger II, delivering under budget and meeting critical deadlines. Contact Duotech today about your F-5’s APQ-153, APQ-159.
Duotech Services also offers a new radar option for the F-5 called the Nemesis. The NEMESIS is a TAILOR-MADE MECHANICALLY SCANNED ARRAY (MESA) RADAR.