Northrop F-5 vs MiG-21

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SaparotRob

Unter Gemeine Geschwader Murmeltier XIII
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Mar 12, 2020
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I was following the thread concerning the F-106 and Canada. FlyboyJ mentioned that Botswana had wanted to upgrade their F-5's to better deal with Zimbabwe's MiG-21's. The F-5's were used as MiG "stand-ins" with aggressor units.
What would an actual encounter have been like?...or has it already happened?
BTW The search of this topic led me to a thread from lesofprimus regarding aces (2004). Great stuff!!
 
I'll have to do some checking or someone may have the info at hand about the other aircraft involved. Foreign operator claims:
  1. Ethiopia (flown by Israeli pilots): 7 victories vs. Somalia, 1977
  2. North Yemen: 5 victories vs. South Yemen, 1994
  3. Iran: 23 victories vs. Iraq, 1980s
  4. Thailand: 1 victory vs. Vietnam, 1980s
  5. Greece: some probable victories vs. Turkey, 1970s
Source: Warbird Tech - F-5/F-20/T-38
 
I'll have to do some checking or someone may have the info at hand about the other aircraft involved. Foreign operator claims:
  1. Ethiopia (flown by Israeli pilots): 7 victories vs. Somalia, 1977
  2. North Yemen: 5 victories vs. South Yemen, 1994
  3. Iran: 23 victories vs. Iraq, 1980s
  4. Thailand: 1 victory vs. Vietnam, 1980s
  5. Greece: some probable victories vs. Turkey, 1970s
Source: Warbird Tech - F-5/F-20/T-38
Were there F-5 losses? Were the opposing aircraft MiG-21's or a mix of older types as well?
 
That was a great link. What impressed me was the rapid turnarounds of the F-5's. I had thought that jets require a lot of maintenance but these guys ran sortie after sortie. Never knew the F-5 saw combat.. and it could out turn the MiG. Thanks.
 
Basic comparison:

Both aircraft are simple to maintain, but I'd give the edge to the F-5, especially those with later life mods. As far as timed maintenance and component changes, I think the F-5 has the edge from what I remember. Operationally it will depend on who spots who first, if GCI is used to vector the MiGs and if the fight goes close in VR. I've been in the cockpit of both and I would rather be in the cockpit of an F-5 in a close in knife fight hands down. If I needed the speed, or course the MiG-21.

Range, F-5. Bomb load, F-5. Rate of climb, MiG-21. We also have to consider avionics and lastly (drumroll) pilot training.

Nice F-5 link

F-5E Tiger II & F-5T-Tigris/Super Tigris of the Royal Thai Air Force
 
That's quite a credible comparison, especially from someone who actually knows. No "what if's". No "I flew it in a sim" or "according to this guy". Was the F-5 close enough in performance to the MiG for realistic training or "close enough"?
 
There were variants of the F-5 some which one?

The Russians did have a former Vietnam F-5 so a quick search will find details.
 
I admit to always having liked the F5. Overall I would expect the F5E to have an advantage over the Mig21 as it was largely designed to be a counter to the Mig 21.
 
How about the F-5E and the MiG21MF? Botswana AF vs Zimbabwe AF aircraft. There must have been some discussion about these two at the local watering hole.

When I was in Botswana(2002) I heard about muscle flexing along the borders of Botswana and Zimbabwe. Prior to getting the F-5, Botswana was flying Strikemasters. I believe they retired their Strikemasters in the mid 1990s and that's when they got their CF-5s. Although Zimbabwe was involved in conflicts with the Congo, there was always an uneasy feeling with Robert Mugabe as he was viewed as unstable and I was told that ground forces occasionally clashed. I was at Thebephatshwa Air Base where the bulk of their CF-5s were based. A few weeks before I arrived the BDF lost one of it's CF-5s with the loss of one of their better pilots (so I was told).

It appears that the BDF and AFZ had some encounters and most of the pilots I met thought they had the better aircraft and were better trained. They never went into specifics but a subject that was brought up all the time was the desire to have access to Sidewinders. It seems the US (along with several other countries) refused to sell them AIM-9s.

While I was there a combat instructor pilot from India was there training some of the pilots. We were installing chaff dispensers on their CF-5s and it seemed this guy was quite interested in our mod, but we shooed him away anytime he came close.

Several aircraft were undergoing PDM. CASA send a gaggle of mechanics to do this maintenance. Most of the line maintenance was completed by BDF personnel.

I'd have to say, my month there was one of the most exciting experiences in my life. I was told if I ever got to go back I'd be given a ride in a CF-5B!

The Pic of the CF-5 was sent to me a while ago. I think I have some that I took. If I find them I'll post

1594183945906.png
1594183982762.png
 
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I wonder if that combat instructor was trying to figure out how to defeat your mods. India was flying MiG-21's at the time, right?
 
They were but I don't think he was that smart! He was looking more at our install. The set up was pretty standard and was a common unit IIRC, manufactured by Marconi (BAE).
I understand. I'd want to watch mechanical types doing aircraft stuff too.
 

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