Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The RSAF's F-5 II Tiger...the little fighter jet that could!

The RSAF's 144 Squadron won this year's Best Fighter Squadron Award:

ST, June 30
I posted on Facebook this comment:

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!...





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