Northrop F-5E Tiger II
Northrop F-5E Tiger II
Light Weight Fighter Aircraft
Unit Cost
US $2.1 million
Main Operator
United States Air Force
Number Built (E/F)
Click here for all pictures of the F-5 currently available

Northrop F-5E/F Program Milestones
Maiden Flight (A)
August 30, 1959
Maiden Flight (E)
August 11, 1972
Production Start
First User
United States Navy

Northrop F-5E/F Aircraft Dimensions
Wing Span
26 feet 8 inch (8.13 m)
Length (F-5E)
47 feet 4.75 inch (14.65 m)
Length (F-5F)
51 feet 4 inch (15.65 m)
Height (F-5E)
13 feet 4 inch (4.06 m)
Height (F-5F)
13 feet 1.75 inch (4.01 m)
Wing Area
186 sq ft

Northrop F-5E/F Weights
Empty Weight (F-5E)
9,723 lb (4,410 kg)
Empty Weight (F-5F)
10,576 lb (4,797 kg)
Max Take-off Weight (F-5E)
24,722 lb (11,214 kg)
Max Take-off Weight (F-5F)
25,152 lb (11,409 kg)
Max Landing Weight (F-5F)
25,147 lb (11,406 kg)
Max Zero Fuel Weight (F-5E)
17,534 lb (7,953 kg)

United States Navy Northrop F-5
Click for a large image...
Click for a large image...
United States Navy Northrop F-5

Northrop F-5E Powerplants
2 x GE J85-GE21B
5,000 lbf

Northrop F-5E/F Radius & Performance
Range (F-5E)
1,545 nm (2,863 km)
Range (F-5F)
1,270 nm (2,353 km)
Service Ceiling (F-5E)
51,800 ft (15,780 m)
Service Ceiling (F-5F)
50,800 ft (15,484 m)
Max Speed (F-5E)
Mach 1.64
Max Speed (F-5F)
Mach 1.56
Max Rate of Climb (F-5E)
34,500 feet/min
Max Rate of Climb (F-5F)
32,900 feet/min

Northrop F-5E Tiger II

In November 1970, the F-5E was selected by the US government as the winner of a competition to determine the single-seat International Fighter Aircraft (IFA) which was to succeed Northrop's F-5A. The two-seat F-5F was developed subsequently. The F-5E design places particular emphasis on manoeuvrability rather than high speed, notably by the incorporation of auto-manoeuvring flaps. Its full-span leading-edge flaps work in conjunction with conventional trailing-edge flaps, and are operated automatically in response to airspeed and angle of attack.

Wing loading of the F-5E is maintained at approximately the same value as on the F-5A, as the result of an increase in wing area to 186 sq ft. This is due principally to the widened fuselage, which also increases wingspan. The tapered wing leading-edge extension, between the inboard leading-edge and fuselage, was refined to increase the wing area and maximise the lift coefficient of the wing.

The F-5E incorporates other features developed for the Canadian, Dutch and Norwegian F-5s, including a two-position nosewheel gear, which increases the wing angle of attack on the ground by approximately 3.1 degrees. Together with the more powerful engines, this improves the F-5E's take-off performance by some 30 per cent compared with earlier F-5s. The aircraft is qualified to carry two 275 US gallon drop tanks, and up to nine 500 lb Mk 82 bombs, following the addition of a multiple ejector rack (MER) on the centreline stores station.

The first F-5E was presented on 23 June 1972 and took-off for the first time on 11 August 1972. First deliveries followed quite rapidly in the Spring of 1973 with the delivery of the first aircraft to the US Air Force's 425th Tactical Fighter Squadron. Deliveries to foreign countries started later that same year in September 1973.

Besides being a tactical fighter, the F-5Es are operated by the US Air Force and US Navy in the 'aggressor' role, to simulate enemy aircraft at major air combat training schools in the USA, England and the Philippines.


Northrop F-5E Tiger II Design

The F-5 is a cantilever low-wing monoplane with a NACA 65A004.8 wing section. The wings are swept back at an angle of 24 degrees and are of a light weight alloy structure with heavy plate machined skins. It has hydraulically-powered sealed-gap ailerons at approximately mid-span. Both leading- and trailing-edge flaps are electrically operated and consist of a light alloy structure located inboard of the ailerons.

The fuselage of the conventional light alloy semi-monocoque basic structure, with steel, magnesium and titanium used in specific areas. Furthermore, the aircraft has two hydraulically-actuated airbrakes of magnesium alloy construction, mounted on the underside of the fuselage forward of the main-wheel wells. Both the cockpit and avionics bay are pressurized.

The F-5 Tiger has a hydraulically-retratable tricycle type, with the main units retracting inward into the fuselage and the nosewheel retracting forward. In order to reduce take-off length, the F-5s nose unit is capable of extending so the static angle of attack can increase by approximately 3.1 degrees, and is shortened automatically during the retraction cycle.

Power is supplied by two General Electric J85-GE-21B turbojet engines, each rated at 5,000 lbf with afterburning. Two independent fuel systems feed the engines from two rubber-impregnated bladder-type nylon fabric cells, comprising a centre-fuselage cell of 212 US gallon, and an aft-fuselage cell of 169 US gallon. Total fuel capacity is approximately 677 US gallon. A fuel crossfeed system allows fuel from either or both cell systems to be fed to either or both engines. The engine intakes are supplemented with auxiliary air inlet doors for use during take-off and low-speed flight, to improve compressor face pressure recovery and to decrease distortion. Each door consists of a set of six pivot-mounted louvres in removable panels on each side of the fuselage. The doors are actuated by the pilot at take-off, and controlled automatically in flight by Mach sensor switches, and are maintained in the open position at airspeeds below Mach 0.35/0.4.

The Northrop F-5E is capable of carrying two AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles on its wingtip launchers. Furthermore, it has two M39A2 20 mm cannons mounted in its fuselage nose which are capable of delivering 280 rounds per gun. Up to 3,175 kg of mixed ordnance can be carried on one underfuselage and four underwing stations, including M129 leaflet bombs; Mk82 GP and Snakeye 500 lb bombs; Mk36 destructors; Mk84 2,000 lb bombs; LAU-68 2.75 inch rockets; LAU-3 2.75 inch rockets; CBU-24, -49, -52 or -58 cluster bomb units; SUU-20 bombs and rocket packs