Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II in Service with Jordan

Last revised January 2, 2000




Jordan has maintained an overall pro-Western stance and as a result has had access to Western arms supplies, but not usually to first-line combat aircraft. Jordan had received 30 F-5As and 6 F-5Bs in the mid-1960s, but fifteen of these were later transferred to Greece, with the remainder serving with No 6 Squadron at Mafraq. No 6 Squadron is commanded by one of King Hussein's sons. However, its operational status is now uncertain.

In 1975, the US began to supply more modern, radar-equipped F-5Es and F-5Fs to the Al Quwwat al Jawwiya al Malakiya ai Urduniya (Royal Jordanian Air Force). A total of 61 F-5Es and 12 F-5Fs were supplied to the Royal Jordanian Air Force, plus one F-5F later obtained from Sudan. Currently, the F-5E Tiger II is numerically the most important type in the Royal Jordanian Air Force and is used in both air defense and air-to-ground roles.

The F-5E/F serves with Nos 9 and 17 Squadrons, both based at the Prince Hassan base. No 11 Squadron at Azraq, which had previously operated the F-5E, has converted to the Mirage F1. The status of No 17 squadron is now uncertain. No 9 Squadron has variously been reported as being based a Prince Hassan AB and Al Jafr, and it is possible that this unit is actually the only truly operational F-5E squadron still with the RJAF.

In 1985, the RJAF signed a deal with Smiths Industries to upgrade the systems of the F-5E/F. Capability to launch the AGM-65D Maverick air-to-surface missile was to be added. Smiths added a new HUD/WAC and radar altimeter along with a BAe LINS 3000 laser INS. Seven Jordanian F-5Es were sold to Singapore in 1994 to pay for the fleet upgrade. The RJAF attempted to acquire Selenia ALQ-234 ECM pods. The F-5 upgrade program also added chaff and flare dispensers.

The Jordanian F-5 fleet has been in a state of constant flux for many years and is steadily contracting. With the signing of a peace treaty with Israel, Jordan now has access to more-modern Western combat aircraft, and may soon begin to take delivery of up to 72 F-16s. Al Jafr (King Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz AB, built with Saudi assistance) is likely to be their first operational base, leaving the F-5s at Prince Hassan AB.

Sources:


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

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

  3. Northrop F-5, Jon Lake and Robert Hewson, World Airpower Journal, Vol 25, 1996.