Spanish Air Force 50 years SF-5 operations

In 12 November 2020, the Ejército del Aire (EdA, Spanish Air Force) celebrated 50 years of training fighter pilots on the Northrop F-5. For this occasion, SF-5M serial AE.9-10/23-04 is adorned with special tail markings.

Early in 1965, the Spanish Air Force decided that they had to replace the Lockheed T-33A and North American F-86 Sabre in their inventory. In the same year, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) officially announced a contract for the delivery of 70 Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighters of which 62 were partly built and assembled by Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA (CASA) at Sevilla and Madrid/Getafe.

In 1968, once the contracts were signed, the first pilots were sent to Williams Air Force Base (AZ) to learn how to fly the new fast jet. It was not until 12 November 1970, when the first three Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighters were delivered from CASA at Madrid/Getafe to Badajoz/Talavera la Real.

The SF-5M training unit, Ala 23 at Badajoz/Talavera la Real, released a video (9 minutes) on the history of the Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter.

From the 70 aircraft ordered, 34 were CE.9 dual-seat training aircraft (construction numbers 2001-2034) and 36 single seat, divided as 18 C.9 fighter aircraft (c/n 2035-2052) and 18 CR.9 photo reconnaissance aircraft (c/n 2053-2070). Only the dual-seat training aircraft are still operational.

Ala 23 currently operates the following nineteen SF-5M:

AE.9-01/23-23, AE.9-05/23-25, AE.9-07/23-01, AE.9-08/23-02, AE.9-09/23-03, AE.9-10/23-04, AE.9-11/23-05, AE.9-12/23-06, AE.9-14/23-07, AE.9-16/23-09, AE.9-17/23-10, AE.9-18/23-26, AE.9-22/23-12, AE.9-24/23-14, AE.9-27/23-16, AE.9-28/23-17, AE.9-29/23-18, AE.9-30/23-19 and AE.9-31/23-20

Photo: Samuel Aguilar

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