The oldest aircraft in the Air Force, the Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter, is celebrating its 50th anniversary, the last as an advanced and shooting trainer at the Talavera la Real Air Base (Badajoz) Hunting and Assault School.
During this half century these North American fighters have exceeded 170,000 flight hours and trained more than 1,000 students in the Hunting and Assault School (in front of reactors) who have been the backbone of the pilots and are of the combat of the Air Force. They were built under license from Northrop by Construcciones Aeronuticas SA (CASA) (now Airbus Defense & Space) in Getafe (Madrid), where they have also undergone updates that have allowed them to extend their operating life in this exceptional way. They will stay in operation until 2027 or 2028.
The then Aviation Ministry acquired a total of 70 F-5s in the late 1960s, both the single-seater or F-5A version and the two-seater F-5B, which were renamed the F-5M after their modernization. With them, known in the United States as freedom fighters, Washington armed its allies in the middle of the Cold War in order to face the powerful air forces of the Soviet Union and its communist satellite nations. In Spain, for example, they replaced the experienced two-seater T-33 Shooting Star training jets and the F-86 Saber fighter-bombers in the early 1970s.
Currently 19 of the 34 F-5Bs assembled by CASA are still in service, which together with a further 36 single-seaters, 18 of which were later converted into RF-5 photographic reconnaissance aircraft, made up the fleet that was renewed in just six years. the Luftwaffe fighter aircraft. With a vinyl on the vertical stabilizer, one of the F-5Ms, he remembers the 50th anniversary of those devices in the force (Julio Maz Sanz).
Photo: The F-5M with a special decoration for the 50th anniversary on its vertical stabilizer. (Photo Army of the Air)
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