|ST, June 30|
Hmm, I wonder if this (last hurrah?) is the amazing F-5S/Ts swan song? If so, whither 144 Sqn?
Both the squadron and the aircraft have had illustrious histories. After the original batches of American-made Northrop F-5 II's were progressively acquired from the year 1979, three squadrons were assigned to fly them in the jet interceptor role: 141, 144 and 149. Well, 141 Sqn has since been disbanded while 149 Sqn has transitioned to the F-15SG Eagle. The F-5s, since upgraded to (R)F-5S and F-5T variants, now serve only with 144 Sqn -- the RSAF squadron that now holds the distinction of having operated the F-5s the longest. I believe the F-5s have come to the end of their useful life as frontline interceptor and reconnaissance jets. Hence, my question: Whither 144 Sqn?
Here are two informative links I found on F-5s in the RSAF and on the RSAF itself:
The highly agile F-5 itself is a remarkable little fighter jet. It is diminutive (maybe about 30% the weight of a heavy fighter like the F-15SG?) but packs a lethal punch -- like chilli padi!! But it has limited range and is now obsolescent.
The F-5 can lay claim to at least two RSAF milestones:
* It is the air force's first supersonic jet, capable of Mach 1.64 maximum speed;
* It is the air force's first twin-engined jet.
I am sure there are other "firsts".
More generally, the F-5 was nearly doomed, as the USAF was not interested in a small warplane that could only carry two air-to-air missiles (plus in-built cannon). Fortunately, the Cold War saved it -- as it became a cheap and easy-to-maintain export fighter jet for Uncle Sam's non-NATO/non-Israeli/non-Japanese allies and friends. Finally, Northrop later developed the F-20 Tigershark (initially called the F-5G) as a direct competitor to Lockheed's F-16 Fighting Falcon but lost out.
These links below explore further the remarkable story of the little fighter jet that could!...