Northrop F-5E Tiger II

In 1972, the United States government wanted to produce a lightweight fighter that could be sold to foreign ally nations without compromising the secrecy of advanced U.S. military technology. The F-5A/B fighter was chosen for modification, and some 1,300 aircraft were built and exported to 20 air forces, including those of Bahrain, Brazil, Chile, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, and Yemen. The F-5 is license built in Canada, Spain, Taiwan and South Korea. Many of these countries still have F-5s in front line service as of 2001. Domestically, the plane is used by the USMC and the USN (the latter of which uses the jet as an "aggressor" aircraft in Top Gun training).

The plane has a crew of one. It is armed with two 20mm cannons in the nose and two AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles on wingtip hardpoints. The F-5 can also carry 7,000 lbs. of disposable ordnance on one central and four underwing hardpoints. Typical underwing stores can include M129 leaflet bombs, 825 gallons of external fuel in three 275-gallon drop tanks, Mk 82 500-lb. bombs, Snakeye 500-lb. retarded bombs, Mk 84 2,000-lb. bombs, CBU-24, -49, or -58 cluster bombs, and/or SUU-20 bomb and rocket packs. The Tiger II burns 315 gallons of jet fuel per hour of routine usage. It has a combat radius of 875 miles with two AAMs and maximum fuel.


Northrop F-5E Tiger II

Subassemblies: Body +3, High-Agility Wings +2, 3 retractable small Wheels +0.

Powertrain: Two 3,500-lb. thrust Turbojets with Afterburners, 2,300-kWs advanced battery.

Fuel: 677 gallons jet fuel (Fire 13) in standard self-sealing fuel tank (Fire -1).

Occupancy: 1 NCS.

Cargo: 0.


Armor F RL B T U

All: 3/10 3/10 3/10 3/10 3/10

Pilot: 0/+10 0/+10 0/+10 0/+0 0/+10



2x20mm Cannons/Colt-Browning M39A2 [Body:F] (280 rounds each).*

2x127mm IR-homing missiles/AIM-9 Sidewinder [Wings:F].

7,000-lbs. disposable ordnance [Body/Wings:U].




Body: Long range radio, navigation instruments, IFF, autopilot, arrestor hook, ejection seat, refueling probe, terrain following radar, advanced radar detector, HUDWAC, brake parachute (11,340-lb.), flight recorder, digital recon camera, 0.25 man/days limited life support, armored crew station, centerline hardpoint. Wings: Two wingtip hardpoints (for Sidewinders); two outboard and two inboard underwing hardpoints (for other ordnance).



Size: 47'x27'x13' Payload: 7.55 tons Lwt.: 12.33 tons

Volume: 474 cf. Maint.: 32 hours Price: $385,800


HT: 11. HPs: 762 Body, 279 each Wing, 68 each Wheel.


aSpeed: 1056 aAccel: 6/9 aDecel: 22 aMR: 5.5 aSR: 3

Stall Speed: 174 mph. Take-Off Run: 667 yards. Landing Run: 817 yards (with brake chute).

gSpeed: 381/478 gAccel: 19/24 gDecel: 10/28 gMR: 0.5 gSR: 2

Ground Pressure Extremely High. No Off-Road speed.


Design Notes:

Body is 275 cf; wheels are 13.75 cf; wings are 61 cf. Wing volume was reverse-calculated from historical wing area. Structure is Heavy, Standard with Superior Streamlining. Armor is expensive metal. Crew armor is expensive composite, covering 58 sf (the SA of the crew station). Mechanical controls. Design Loaded weight is 22,842 lbs.; this was increased 7% to the actual value. Historical values for wing area and loaded weight were used for performance calculations. Design aSpeed is 1,092 mph, 1,369 mph with afterburner. The historical top speed, take-off run, and landing run with brake chute are shown above. -57 mph to aSpeed per loaded hardpoint. Historical cost is $2.1 million.



The F-5A Freedom Fighter (1963) was the initial export version.

The RF-5E Tigereye is a photo-reconnaissance version.

The Tiger III features improved avionics.

The T-38 Talon (1959) was a two-seat trainer version. 1,187 built. It was used by the USAF Thunderbirds flight team from 1974-1982.

The F-20 Tigershark (1975) was a failed attempt to market an improved version of the plane to the U.S. military. Only 3 prototypes were built.


From the Aerodrome for GURPS

2008 by Jim Antonicic