Northrop F-5F Tiger II

Last revised January 2, 2000

The F-5F was the two-seat combat trainer version of the F-5E Tiger II. Northrop had not originally planned to offer a two-seat version of the Tiger II, but after initial flight tests it became clear that the performance of the F-5E was so much greater than that of the F-5A that a trainer version of the Tiger II would be appropriate. On May 15, 1973, the Air Force gained Congressional approval to examine Northrop's proposal for a two-seat version of the Tiger II.

An entirely new two-seat forward fuselage was developed. Instead of squeezing in the second crew member by simply pushing the front cockpit further forward in the nose (as had been done in the T-38 and F-5B), the entire fuselage was lengthened by 3 feet 6 1/2 inches. The AN/APQ-159 fire control system was retained, which enabled the aircraft to be used for both training and combat duties. However, in order to fit in the radar it was necessary to delete one (the starboard) of the 20-mm cannon and to reduce the ammunition capacity to only 140 rounds. (Since a barrel-like ram air intake projected from the starboard cannon port, some have suggested that the starboard cannon was actually fitted to the F-5F, which is untrue). Aside from the deletion of the second 20-mm cannon, the F-5F retained the full combat capability of the single-seat F-5E. However, only the front cockpit was fitted with the lead computing optical sight system. Provision was made for the addition of ballast weights underneath the rear fuselage forward of the jet exhaust to compensate for the extra length of the nose. Wing fences were positioned at wing mid-span.

Development of the F-5F was approved by the USAF in early 1974, with the first flight (by 73-0889) taking place at Edwards AFB on September 25, 1974, with Northrop test pilot Dick Thomas at the controls. Two F-5Fs completed flight test and qualification in early 1976.

The F-5F was slightly heavier than the F-5E and had a slightly inferior takeoff performance.

First deliveries began in the summer of 1976. A total of 140 F-5Fs were built by Northrop.

Serials of Northrop F-5F Tiger II:

73-0889			Northrop F-5F Tiger II  
				to NASA
73-0891			Northrop F-5F Tiger II 
75-0681/0731		Northrop F-5F Tiger II
				0681/0708 to Iran
				0709/0711 to Chile as J-815/J-817
				0712/0731 to Saudi Arabia
75-0735/0744		Northrop F-5F Tiger II
				0735/0736 to Jordan
				0737/0742 to South Korea
75-0753/0756		Northrop F-5F Tiger II
				to US Navy as 160964/160966
				0756 cancelled.
76-1592/1597		Northrop F-5F Tiger II 
				to Switzerland as J-3201/3206
76-1611/1615		Northrop F-5F Tiger II
				1611/1613 to Thailand
				1614/1615 to Kenya as 911/912
76-1640/1642		Northrop F-5F Tiger II
				to Taiwan as 5351/5353
77-0336/0350		Northrop F-5F Tiger II
				To Taiwan as 5354/5368 
77-0359/0365		Northrop F-5F Tiger II 
				0359/0361 to Singapore as 850/852
				0362/0365 to Saudi Arabia
77-1778/1779		Northrop F-5F Tiger II
				to Jordan as 1751/1752
78-0774/0787		Northrop F-5F Tiger II 
				to Korea
78-0802/0805		Northrop F-5F Tiger II 
				to Jordan 
				0804 and 0805 cancelled.
78-0822/0825		Northrop F-5F Tiger II  
				to Indonesia as TS-0513/TS-0516
78-0876/0884		Northrop F-5F Tiger II 
				to Taiwan as 5369/5377
78-2435/2436		Northrop F-5F Tiger II 
				to Jordan
78-2444/2446		Northrop F-5F Tiger II 
				to Malaysia as FM2251/FM2253
79-1692/1693		Northrop F-5F Tiger II
  				to Thailand as 40301/40302 
79-1708/1709		Northrop F-5F Tiger II
				1708 to Thailand as 40303
				1709 to Malaysia as FM2254
79-1916/1919		Northrop F-5F Tiger II 
				to Jordan
79-1942/1945		Northrop F-5F Tiger II 
				to Morocco
80-0296/0298		Northrop F-5F Tiger II
				to Taiwan at 5384/5386
81-0006/0019		Northrop F-5F Tiger II 
				to Taiwan as 5299/5312
81-0594/0613		Northrop F-5F Tiger II 
				to Korea
81-0639/0642		Northrop F-5F Tiger II 
				0639/0640 to Mexico as 4501/4502
				0641/0642 to Keyna as 913/914
81-0858/0863		Northrop F-5F Tiger II
				0858/0863 to Switzerland as
82-0004/0005		Northrop F-5F Tiger II  
				to Sudan as 200-201 
82-0089/0091		Northrop F-5F Tiger II - for FMS
82-0187/0189		Northrop F-5F Tiger II 
				to Singapore as 853/855
82-0640/0643		Northrop F-5F Tiger II 
				for Tunisia as Y-92502,04,06,and 08
83-0072/0074		Northrop F-5F Tiger II 
				0073 and 0074 to Brazil as
83-0113/0142		Northrop F-5F Tiger II 
				to Taiwan as 5387/5416
84-0456/0457		Northrop F-5F Tiger II
				0456 to US Navy
				0457 to Brazil as 4809
84-0456/0457		Northrop F-5F Tiger II 
				0456 to US Navy and
				0457 to Brazil as 4809
85-0053/0056 		Northrop F-5F Tiger II
				to Bahrain as 641/644
86-0090/0091		Northrop F-5F Tiger II 
				to Singapore as 860,861
86-0388			Northrop F-5F Tiger II 
				to Singapore as 862

Specification of Northrop F-5F Tiger II:

Engines:Two General Electric J85-GE-21A turbojets, 5000 lb.s.t. with afterburning. Maximum speed: Mach 1.55 at 36,000 feet. Maximum cruising speed without afterburning: Mach 0.98 at 36,000 feet. Stalling speed 157 mph with flaps extended. Service ceiling: 50,800 feet. Initial climb rate: 32,900 feet per minute at combat weight of 14,055 pounds. Takeoff run: 2300 feet at weight of 16,250 pounds. Takeoff run: 6000 feet at maximum takeoff weight of 25,225 pounds. Landing run from 50 feet without braking parachute was 5000 feet at weight of 12,245 pounds. Landing run with brake chute was 2600 feet at 12,245 pounds. Range with maximum fuel was 1462 miles. Combat radius with maximum fuel, two Sidewinder missiles, and two 530 -pond bombs 518 miles. Fuel: Total internal fuel capacity of 677 US gallons. One 150 or 275 US gallon drop tank could be carried on the fuselage centerline pylon and on the inboard underwing pylon. bringing total fuel capacity to 1502 US gallons. There is provision for inflight refuelling by means of a detachable probe. Dimensions: wingspan 26 feet 8 inches, length 51 feet 7 inches, height 13 feet 1 3/4 inches, wing area 186 square feet. Weights: 10,567 pounds empty, 14,055 pounds combat, 15,745 pounds gross, 25,225 pounds maximum takeoff. Armament: Armed with one 20-mm M39A2 cannon with 140 rounds in the fuselage nose. Two AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles could be carried at the wingtips. Five pylons, one under the fuselage centerline and four under the wings that can carry up to 7000 pounds of ordnance or fuel tanks.


  1. The American Fighter, Enzo Angelucci and Peter Bowers, Orion, 1987.

  2. Jane's American Fighting Aircraft of the 20th Centry, Michael J. H. Taylor, Mallard Press

  3. Modern Air Combat, Bill Gunston and Mike Spick, Crescent, 1983.

  4. United States Military Aircraft Since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian, 1989.

  5. Post-World War II Fighters: 1945-1973, Marcelle Size Knaac, Office of Air Force History, 1986.

  6. F-5: Warplane for the World, Robbie Shaw, Motorbooks, 1990

  7. Fighters of the United States Air Force, Robert F. Dorr and David Donald, Temple Press/Aerospace, 1990

  8. Northrop F-5/F-20, Jerry Scutts, Ian Allan Ltd, 1986.

  9. The World's Great Attack Aircraft, Gallery, 1988.

  10. Northrop F-5, Jon Lake, World Airpower Journal, Vol 25, 1996.

  11. E-mail from Ben Marselis