Work in Progress
List being compiled - can you help with photographs
F-5F #50700 and F-5A #50468
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||63-8382|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||63-8383||transferred to Vietnam|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||63-8384|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||63-8385||transferred to Vietnam|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||63-8386|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||63-8387|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||63-8388|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||63-8389|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||63-8390|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||63-8391|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||63-8392|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||63-8446|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||63-8447|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||64-13354|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||64-13355|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||64-13356|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||64-13357|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||64-13358|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||64-13359|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||64-13360|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||64-13385|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||64-13386|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||65-10481|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||65-10482||transferred to Vietnam|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||65-10483|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||65-10484|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||65-10533|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||65-10534|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||65-10535|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||65-10536||transferred to Vietnam|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||65-10537|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||65-10538|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||65-10539|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||65-10540|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||65-10541|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||65-10542|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||65-10543|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||65-10544|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||65-10587|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||65-10588|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||66-21212|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||66-21213|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||66-21214|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||66-21215|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||66-21216|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||66-21217|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||66-21218|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||66-9155|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||66-9170|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||66-9171|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||66-9172|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||66-9173|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||66-9174|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||66-9175|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||66-9176|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||66-9189|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||66-9190|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||66-9191|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||66-9192|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||66-9233|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||66-9235|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||66-9236|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||66-9238|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||66-9240|
|Northrop RF-5A-35-NO Freedom Fighter||67-21219||c/n 1001||2-7201 [presumed]|
|Northrop RF-5A-35-NO Freedom Fighter||67-21220||c/n 1002||2-7202 [presumed]|
|Northrop RF-5A-35-NO Freedom Fighter||67-21221||c/n 1003||2-7203 [presumed]|
|Northrop RF-5A-35-NO Freedom Fighter||67-21222||c/n 1004||2-7204 [presumed]|
|Northrop RF-5A-35-NO Freedom Fighter||67-21223||c/n 1005||2-7205|
|Northrop RF-5A-35-NO Freedom Fighter||67-21224||c/n 1006||2-7206|
|Northrop RF-5A-35-NO Freedom Fighter||67-21225||c/n 1007||2-7207|
|Northrop RF-5A-35-NO Freedom Fighter||67-21226||c/n 1008||2-7208 [presumed]|
|Northrop RF-5A-35-NO Freedom Fighter||67-21227||c/n 1009||2-7209 [presumed]|
|Northrop RF-5A-35-NO Freedom Fighter||67-21228||c/n 1010||2-7210 [presumed]|
|Northrop RF-5A-35-NO Freedom Fighter||67-21229||c/n 1011||2-7211 [presumed]|
|Northrop RF-5A-35-NO Freedom Fighter||67-21230||c/n 1012||2-7212 [presumed]|
|Northrop RF-5A-35-NO Freedom Fighter||67-21231||c/n 1013||2-7212 [presumed]|
|Intended for Iran||67-21232||never built|
|Intended for Iran||67-21233||never built|
|Intended for Iran||67-21234||never built|
|Intended for Iran||67-21235||never built|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||67-22548|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||67-22549|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||67-22550|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||67-22557|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68- 9057|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9047|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9052|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9053|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9059|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9060|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9061|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9062|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9063|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9064|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9065|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9066|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9067|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9068|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9069|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9070|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9071|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9072|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9073|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9074|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9075|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9076|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9077|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9078|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9079|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9080|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9081|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9082|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9083|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9084|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||68-9085|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||68-9086|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||68-9086|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||68-9091|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||68-9091|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||68-9093|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||69-7090|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||69-7091|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||69-7095|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||69-7105|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||69-7174|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||69-7175|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||69-7176|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||69-7177|
|Northrop RF-5A-35-NO Freedom Fighter||69-7178|
|Northrop RF-5A-35-NO Freedom Fighter||69-7179||Supposedly never built but seen in service with Greek Air Force|
|Northrop RF-5A-35-NO Freedom Fighter||69-7180||2-7255|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||70-1373|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||70-1374|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||70-1375|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||70-1376|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||70-1377|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||70-1378|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||70-1379|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||70-1380|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||70-1381|
|Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter||70-1382|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||70-1608|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||70-1609|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||70-1610|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||70-1611|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||70-1612|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||70-1613|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||70-1614|
|Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter||73-1613|
64-14213/14220 Kaman HH-43F Huskie
c/n 210/217. FMS for Iran
63-8367/8437 Northrop F-5A-15-NO Freedom Fighter
8367/8370 remanufactured to F-5B(65-13071/13074)
8371 (c/n N.6008) to Thailand ser no Kh18-31/17, code 1315, then
10315, then 23133, then 71143, then 70143. Now in RTAF
Museum, Don Muang
8372 parts used in construction of X-029A 82-0003
8373/8374 to South Korea
8375/8379 to Thailand
8375 (c/n N.6012) ser.no. KH18-14/17, code 1331, then
10331, then 23131. Flew into mountain Mar 27, 1987.
8379 (c/n N.6016) ser.no. KH18-15/17, code 1332, then
10332, then 23132, then 71141, then 70144
8381 to Greece
63-8382/8392 to Imperial Iranian AF
63-8383 IIRAF 3-201
63-8388 IIRAF 3-202
63-8438/8451 Northrop F-5B-5-NO Freedom Fighter
8438 (c/n N.8000) to Thailand AF as Kh18k-1/09, code 1301, then
10301, then 23101, then 71101, then 70101
8439 (c/n N.8001) to Thailand AF as Kh18k-2/09, code 1303,then 10302.
8440,8441,8443 converted to GF-5B
8441 at Rantoul Aviation Complex, Illinois
8445 used as prototype for YF-5B-21, testbed
8446,8447 to Imperial Iranian AF
64-13306/13376 Northrop F-5A-20-NO Freedom Fighter
13306/13309 to Korea
13310 to to Philippines
13311,13312 to Korea
13313 to Philippines
13314,13315 to Vietnam
13317,13318 used in Skoshi Tiger, later to
Vietnam. 13317 later to Taiwan
13320/13324 to Philippines
13325/13331 to Taiwan as 1201/1207
13332 used in Skoshi Tiger. Later to Vietnam
13333/13351 to Turkey
13352/13353 to Greece
13353 to Norway as 353 then to Greece as 13353. Preserved at
Thessaloniki War Museum, Greece.
64-13377/13388 Northrop F-5B-10-NO Freedom Fighter
c/n N.8025, N.8016/8024,N.9001/9002.
13377/13378 to Greece
13377 crashed on landing at Salonica during
touch and go. Instructor killed.
13381/13382 to Taiwan
13383,13384 to Turkey
13385/13386 to Imperial Iranian AF
13387 (N9001) to Norway
13388 (N9002) to Norway
65-10476/10581 Northrop F-5A-25-NO Freedom Fighter
c/n N.6137/6222, N.7010/7029.
10476/10480 to Greece
10481/10484 to Imperial Iranian AF -- IIAF serials 3-414/3-417
10482 later to Vietnam
10485/10487 to Greece
10488/10498 to South Korea
10499/10507 to Philippines
10501 crashed Dec 1, 1989.
10508/10512 to Ethiopia
10513/10515 to South Vietnam
10516/10517 to Taiwan
10518/10520 to South Vietnam
10521/10523 to Taiwan
10524/10526 to South Vietnam
10527/10532 to Taiwan
10533/10544 to Imperial Iranian AF
10534 IIAF serial 3-428
10535 IIAF serial 3-429
10536 IIAF serial 3-430 later to Vietnam
10537 IIAF serial 3-431
10538 IIAF serial 3-432
10539 IIAF serial 3-433
10541 IIAF serial 3-434. To Greek AF (presumably sold by Iran); noted 1997 at Hellenic AF Museum,
Dekelia AB, Athens
10542 IIAF serial 3-435
10543 IIAF serial 3-436
65-10582/10595 Northrop F-5B-15-NO Freedom Fighter
10582 to Greece
10583 to Korea
10584/10585 to Ethiopia
10586 to Vietnam
10587/10588 to Imperial Iranian AF
10587 IIAF serial 3-438
66-9119/9229 Northrop F-5A-30-NO Freedom Fighter
9119,9120 to Morocco
9121/9128 to Turkey
9129 (c/n N.6233) to Vietnam AF, then to Thailand AF as
Kh18-9/12, code 1314, then 10314, then 23114. W/o Nov 15, 1988.
9130,9131 to South Vietnam
9132,9133 to Greece
9134 to Turkey
9135/9138 to Greece
9139/9141 to South Vietnam
9142 to Greece
9143/9147 to South Korea
9148/9150 to Philippines
9151/9154 to Turkey
9155 to Iran
9156/9158 to Turkey
9159/9161 to Thailand
9159 (c/n N.6263) ser.no Kh18-1/10, code 1311. crashed Jan 2, 1970
9160 (c/n N.6264) ser.no Kh18-2/10, code 1312, then 10312, then
23121, then 71141, then 70141. BDRT at Korat.
9161 (c/n N.6265) ser.no KH18-3/10, code 1313, lost in combat Oct 6, 1970.
Rear fuselage noted early 2003 at Khao Kho War Memorial Park, Thailand.
9162/9163 to Morocco
9164/9168 to Greece
9169 (c/n N.6273) to Thailand as ser.no. Kh18-4/10, code 1314.
Crashed on takeoff in 1970
9170/9176 to Iran
9170 then transferred to South Vietnam AF. Believed to be the F-5A painted as 69170
on display in War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
9177/9188 to Taiwan. 9188 to Philippines.
9189/9192 to Iran
9183/9195 to Taiwan
9196/9198 to Ethiopia
9199/9206 to Taiwan
9207 (N7030) to Norway.
9208 (N7031) to Norway. To FMU, Gardermoen AFB for display.
9209 (N7032) to Norway as 209. To Greece 8/27/1986 as 69209. Preserved
at Larissa AB, Greece
9210 (N7033) to Norway.
9211 (N7034) to Norway. To Turkey 8/12/1983.
9212 (N7035) to Norway. To Turkey 2/27/1985.
9213 (N7036) to Norway. Crashed 7/9/1970 Mosvatn.
9214 (N7037) to Norway. To Turkey 4/16/1985.
9215 (N7038) to Norway
9216 (N7039) to Norway. Crashed 1/10/1972 Bogvatn, Svartisen.
9217 (N7040) to Norway. Crashed 8/9/1968 Sorfjord.
9218 (N7041) to Norway. Crashed 9/29/1970 Fugloy.
9219 (N7042) to Norway. Crashed 9/29/1970 Fugloy.
9220 (N7043) to Norway as 14896. Now in Flyhistorisk Museum, Sola, Norway
9221 (N7044) to Norway. Crashed 12/12/1968 Torp.
9222 (N7045) to Norway.
9223 (N7046) to Norway. Crashed 12/5/1972 Kjerrinoy, Nordland.
9224 (N7047) to Norway. To Turkey 8/12/1983.
9225 (N7048) to Norway
9226 (N7049) to Norway. Crashed 9/8/1971 Tana.
9227 (N7050) to Norway. To Turkey 4/30/1985.
9228 (N7051) to Norway as 228. To Greece 4/29/1986 as 69228. Preserved at
9229 (N7052) to Norway. To Turkey 9/15/1983.
66-9230/9244 Northrop F-5B-20-NO Freedom Fighter
9230 to Greece
9231,9232 to South Vietnam
9233,9235,9236,9238,9240 to Iran
9234,9237,9239 to Taiwan
9241 (N9005) to Norway
9242 (N9006) to Norway
9243 (N9007) to Norway
9244 (N9008) to Norway
67-14775 Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter - cancelled contract
67-14776/14823 Cessna A-37B
All sold to South Vietnam AF except 14776, 14790, 14792, and 14823.
14790 (c/n 43015) to NOA-37B
14823 (c/n 43048) to YA-37B
67-14824 Martin LGM-25C Titan III
67-14825/14859 Northrop T-38A-70-NO Talon
14842 converted to AT-38B
14825 to NASA as N924NA
14826 with 509th BW, 394th CTS, Whiteman AFB, MO in 2007
14845 with 509th BW, 394th CTS, Whiteman AFB, MO in 2007
67-14860/14861 Cessna U-3B
67-21153/21218 Northrop F-5A-35-NO Freedom Fighter
c/n N.6344/6345, 7053,7054,6346/6352,7055,7056,
21153,21154 to Taiwan
21155 (N7053) to Norway. Crashed 4/22/1969 Rakkestad.
21156 (N7054) to Norway. To Turkey 9/15/1983.
21157/21162 to Taiwan
21163 to Turkey
21164 (N7055) to Norway. To Greece 8/27/1986.
21165 (N7056) to Norway. To Turkey 8/12/1983.
21166/21174 to Taiwan
21175 to South Vietnam
21176/21180 to South Korea
21176 (Philippine AF, 5th FW, 6th FS) crashed May 2, 2002 on school at Mabalacat, Pampanga,
Philippines. Pilot killed, 16 people on ground injured
21181,21182 to Turkey
21183/21191 to South Korea
21191 went to Philippine AF, retired by Philippine AF Oct 1, 2005.
21192/21195 to Turkey
21196 to Ethiopia
21197/21199 to Libya
21200 to Ethiopia
21201/21211 to Turkey
21205 crashed near Diyarbakir Jul 19, 1990. Pilot ejected safely.
21212/21218 to Iran
67-21219/21231 Northrop RF-5A-35-NO Freedom Fighter
c/n 1001/1013. to Iran
67-21232/21235 cancelled contract for Northrop RF-5A Freedom Fighter
67-22548/22555 Northrop F-5A-35-NO Freedom Fighter
22548/22550 to Iran
22551/22555 to Libya
67-22556/22557 Northrop F-5B-25-NO Freedom Fighter
22556 to Turkey
22557 to to Iran
68-9043/9085 Northrop F-5A-40-NO Freedom Fighter
c/n N.6409/6412, 6418/6456
9043/9046 to Korea
9047 to Iran
9048,9049 to South Korea
9050,9051 to Taiwan
9052,9053 to Iran
9054/9056 to Greece
9057 to Iran
9058 to Greece
9059/9085 to Iran
9063 (c/n N6434) to Jordanian AF, then to Greek AF as 063. Preserved in
park at Stilida, Greece in vandalized condition.
9065 (c/n N.6436) to Greek AF as 065. Preserved at Sedes AB, Greece.
9071 on display at Polemiko Mouseio, Athens, Greece
9072 (c/n N.6443) later to Greek AF. Noted stored at Nea Anchialos Sep 2005
9073 (c/n N.6444) later to Greek AF. Noted preserved at Nea Anchialos
9077 (c/n N.6448) to Greek AF as 689077. Now preserved at Nea Aghialos
9078 later to Greek AF
9084 later to Greek AF
68-9086/9096 Northrop F-5B-30-NO Freedom Fighter
9088/9090,9092 to Greece
9086,9091,9093 to Iran
9094,9095 to South Korea
9096 to Taiwan
70-1373/1407 Northrop F-5A-50-NO Freedom Fighter
1373/1382 to Iran
1383/1388 to South Korea
1389 (N.6511) to Morocco. I also have this one going to Thailand for spares.
1390/1392 to Thailand AF as attrition replacements
1390 (c/n N.6512) ser.no. Kh18-10/14, code 1311, then
10311. reported w/o Sep 1980
1391 (c/n N.6513) ser.no. Kh18-11/14, code 1313, then 10313,
then 23122. reported w/o Nov 8, 1995
1392 (c/n N.6514) ser no KH18-12/14, code 1334, then 10324
then 23134.reported w/o Oct 1991
1393/1395 to Korea
1396,1397 to Taiwan. 1397 to Philippines.
1398/1400 to Greece
1401/1404 to South Korea
1405/1407 to Turkey
70-1608/1613 Northrop F-5B-40-NO Freedom Fighter
c/n N.8078/8083. All to Iran
73-0903/0990 Northrop F-5E Tiger II
c/n T.1001/1030, U.1001/1058
73-0987 Iranian AF serial was 3-7067
1602/1613 Northrop F-5B-50-NO Freedom Fighter
73-1613 to Iran
More to Add - F-5E/Fs and photo-rec versions
Here is some info and a photo of IIAF RF_5A.
As the first overseas customer, Iran ordered 16 RF-5A-35-NO (block 35). Their serials were 2-400 ~ 2-415.
They were delivered in two batches, the first 13 aircraft were new frames built for Iran followed by another three from USAF stock. The new built aircraft were 67-21219 ~ 67-21231 (). No info exists for the ex-USAF frames.
Unlike the rest of 73 RF-5As produced, Iranian RF-5As had Inertial Navigation System (INS) and digital autogyro in place of its regular analogue gyro.
Iranian RF-5As carried the standard four KS-92 camera
two of them positioned forward and two side view through glass windows.
The KS-92 camera was provided with an individual light sensor and automatic exposure and had a 100-foot magazine. The cameras gave forward oblique, trimetrogon and split vertical coverage. All four cameras could be removed, reloaded and replaced within five minutes. The use of different lenses gave six basic camera configurations.
The cameras were accessed via the upper surface of the nose which hinged forward. The aircraft was otherwise quite similar to the F-5A. Both cannon were retained, even when the cameras were fitted. In theory, the nose of the RF-5A could be replaced by the standard F-5A nose, but in the field this operation took too long to be practical.
IIAF RF-5As were split in 4-ship detachments within the four main Tactical air bases, 1st (Mehrabad), 2nd(Tabriz) 4th (Vahdati) and 7th (Shiraz).
It is believe at least 7-9 of them were operational during Iran-Iraq War.
More info and photos in upcoming Iranian Aviation Review Magazine.
As you know IRIAF purchased back 10 (not 12 or 14 as reported) very old airframe F-5As from Ethiopia (originally sold to them in late 70s when F-5Es started to arrive) to use as spare source. Last year I received some information that they decided to convert 3-4 of them (by heavy canibilization) to RF-5As by using spare nose sections left from Shah's era inventory. It was an obvious indication of shortage of recon aircraft. There were reports of IRIAF only having 6 RF-4E operational with some lost in combat and others grounded, even these 6 aircraft with very limited photo capabilities (such as single frame shooting). The RF-5A conversion work was dolly named Simorgh-II (perhaps refering to Simorgh Two-seat modifications).
Then more info emerged that some of the nose section cameras were damaged in storage and that Iranians managed to get help from Licor Lens manufacturing and Russian Tremb Leika camera to repair and even replace some of the cameras and related sensors. The current reported RF-5A inventory (from maintenance records and monthly safety manual ) appears to be around 9 aircraft but with various level of photo capabilities.
Now my question is this, why they should go through all this hassle to add 3-4 reconnaissance platform and then convert an original RF-5A to a standard nose? It just doesn't make sence when there is a shortage.
Your thoughts will be appreciated.
According to Northrop's production
lists I've got, Iran originally was to get only 14 RF-5As; the ones the serials
of which have been mentioned by Leon (i.e. 67-21219 thru 67-21235). But,
according to the same list, the last four planes from this order - 67-21232 thru
67-21235) have never been built.
Now comes the interesting part. According to my research, Iran has got no less but 20 RF-5As. These included not only the series 67-21219 thru 67-21235, but also 69-7178 thru 69-7180. I know of four of these remaining in service as of today, including one of "never-built" airframes, namely:
It's not only so, that the 2-7255 still existant: another of "never-built" former Iranian RF-5As has since been seen while in service with Greek Air Force, wearing the remnants of the USAF-serial "7179". This should be the 69-7179.
Now comes the explanation, as provided by two former IIAF RF-pilots in interviews three years back, provided for the long-planned book about F-5s in Iranian service.
According to them, the first 12 RF-5As were delivered to Iran on 14 May 1969. The unit - then called the 21st TRS - became operational barely a month later, in June 1969 (probably the fastest ever conversion of this kind!). And, already in the same month - in great secrecy - they began flying the first series of recce operations along and beyond the borders of the former USSR. The second series of such operations was undertaken in October of the same year.
Nominally, the 21st TRS was under US- - not IIAF-control. Still, it was always commanded by Iranian officers. The first CO was Maj. Daryush Zolali (later Brig.-General), followed by Maj. Moshir-Ghafari (later Colonel), Maj. Gheydian (later Colonel), and Maj. Nasseri (later Brig.-General), who commanded the unit in 1979. The unit was always based at Mehrabad; it operated RF-5As until 1977, when they were put in storage and replaced by RF-4s.
Despite extremely tight security measures and careful planning (which went so far, that in the late 1960s and early 1970s the RF-5As were never parked in the open for longer than few minutes: there were special hangars on airfields like Tabriz and Mashhad, reserved only for them), two RF-5s were shot down by Soviet air defences. Exact circumstances remain unknown. The only details the two pilots would reveal was that both IIAF pilots survived, even if one was badly burned and had to be sent to Germany and then the US for medical treatement (where he remained to live until this very day). In the words of one of the interviewed RF-fliers:
- The two RF-5As we lost over the USSR were replaced on a one-for-one basis, by the Americans. The new aircraft were then assigned the serial numbers and other markings of the two lost examples! There is little doubt that the loss of the two RF-5As persuaded the USA to quickly permit the sale of RF-4E, and also to speed-up their manufacture and delivery to us, which was agreed shortly after a meeting between the Shah and the US President, in late 1969. The announcement about the acquisition of RF-4Es was quite a surprise for many in our air force, then we had originally been told that the IIAF was to get 64 used F-4Ds, starting in 1972: now, we were not to get any F-4Ds, but RF-4Es instead, followed by F-4Es!
This was still not all: as photographs of the first four RF-4s clearly show (and, Farzad has shot a whole "walk-around" style series of an active IRIAF RF-4), these were RF-4Cs, not Es. This, despite the fact that - officially - they were designated RF-4Es. Aside from this, although wearing USAF FY-serials from 1972, they were delivered already in 1971.... But, this is a separate story.
What is important here is that the RF-5As from the second batch delivered to Iran - the "never-built" examples - were all not only AIM-9-compatible, or could carry M-117s and Mk.80-series bombs. Even more so: they were "A-wired".
What should this mean, I guess, everybody here knows. Here an explanation from the second ex IIAF RF-pilot (I'm purposedly not mentioning his name nor anything about his background):
- In late November 1969, the Americans had two USAF RF-4Cs – in full IIAF markings - flying “training missions” out of Mehrabad air base. The story was that these aircraft would be used to train Iranian crews. But, that was just a cover story: no Iranian pilots were trained on them, and they actually operated only by night. The first two “really IIAF” RF-4s arrived in Iran only on 4 February 1971, and entered service with the 1st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, which was in part a US-controlled unit. Later, as additional examples became available, some were assigned to the 11th TFS (which was flying F-4Es), and then to other units as well. The US RF-4Cs left Iran by May 1971.
Interestingly, the US RF-4Cs have left Iran at the same time the first (FY-72!!) RF-4s ordered by Iran were delivered!
The matter was, namely, that the plan saw the IIAF RF-5As to - in emergency - become a part of the US SIOP. Means; they'd be manned by USAF pilots and fly strikes against selected targets inside the USSR. Obviously, this was the reason that they have been replaced by (apparenly A-wired as well) RF-4Cs - not "export" RF-4Es.
Anyway, back to RF-5s (for the second time)....
By 1977, all but two of the the surviving RF-5s were retired from service and put in deep storage. In late 1978, four were taken out of storage, converted to F-5As and prepared for delivery to Jordan. As the unrests spread through Iran, however, this plan was dropped: they were returned to service with IRIAF, and later to see even a stint with an IRGCAF unit, in 1982-1983, when being used by what was a kind of a "Kamikaze" Squadron. Eventually, the two RF-5As that remained operational were used to fly a number of recce sorties early during the war with Iraq.
Several examples of such missions are known, including one flown over al-Hurrya AB (near Kirkuk), on the afternoon of 25 September 1980, or the other, probably the most famous RF-5A-sortie of the whole war, flown by 1st Lt. Polad Davoudi, in early October 1980 - when he got one of his stabilators shot off, and brought back pictures of the shade of his plane, showing this fact.
Now, it is of course possible that later the IRIAF has done many various things with its surviving RF-5As: they were barely used for the rest of the war, being too slow and too vulnerable for flying dangerous recce missions inside Iraq.
But, I most sincerely doubt that any of ex-Ethiopian F-5As were converted to RF-5As for operational purposes. For training, yes: after all, the photo of 2-7255 posted on Page 1 of this thread was taken in Shiraz. Besides, only one of ex-Ethiopian F-5As was sighted so far, and this example has got the nose of an F-5E - including the radar - in what was some kind of trial work by IACI. It is possible that the second ex-Ethiopian example is the one mounted on a pole in front of TFB.4. Otherwise, the condition of these planes - some of which used to serve with the IIAF before being given to Ethiopia, in the early 1970s - on their delivery to Iran was so poor, the IRIAF did not find time to work on them before the war with Iraq ended. Whatever; my info is that remaining RF-5As and F-5As have either been converted to Simourqs (T-38-likes, supersonic two-seaters for training), or are used for training in general.
Namely, the majority of tac-recce tasks was taken over by the UAVs. Besides, the IRIAF RF-4-fleet is in excellent condition and kicking. It was very active over Iraq during the whole war, and at least as active over Afghanistan, for most of the 1990s. I have eyewitness accounts from former Soviet soldiers in Afghanistan, from 1989 and 1990, about IRIAF RF-4-ops flown there. The V-VS MiG-23 units several times attempted to intercept IRIAF recce birds, but never managed this (while several smaller Soviet units have had to endure even strafing attacks by Iranian F-4E Phantoms, in 1989!).
Aside from this, recce photos Farzad obtained from IRIAF (and there are whole series) show that the equipment of IRIAF RF-4s and RF-5s was functioning perfectly. And that from the first days of the war, until at least the late 1987 (that's the period from which our newest photos come). In order to be sure, we've shown some of these shots to specific ex-USAF specialists (who, BTW, were perfectly able to identify Iraqi airfields shown on them!), and they confirmed them as authentic.
Furthermore, all pilots we've got to interview stress - and do not stop stressing (the latest commentary to this topic is barely two weeks old and comes from somebody who flew over 200 combat sorties over Iraq) - that the technical condition of their aircraft during the war with Iraq was - and that it remains - excellent, and that the work done by their technical personnel was always "marvelous".
The number of operational RF-4s, and their equipment, BTW, is something I currently wouldn't go into any details. Considering the current security situation surrounding Iran, what's been published in our earlier books and articles is more than enough.
|More Acknowledgements and References to be added||IIAF.net|