Vertex Aerospace awarded $458M contract to modernize USN-USMC F-5 adversary aircraft

Vertex contract modernize F5 adversary
USN F-5N from VFC-111 "Sun Downers" takes off from Boca Chica Field.

The U.S. Department of Defense said Thursday it has awarded Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Mississippi, a $458,183,641 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to provide new depot site stand up, as well as organizational, selected intermediate and limited depot level maintenance, and logistics support services for the F-5 Adversary aircraft for the Navy and Marine Corps. Work will be carried out at multiple sites across the United States and is expected to be completed in November 2028.

The F-5N is a single seat, twin-engine, tactical fighter and attack aircraft providing simulated air-to-air combat training manufactured by Northrop Grumman Corporation. The F-5F is a dual-seat version, twin-engine, tactical fighter commonly used for training and adversary combat tactics. The aircraft serves in an aggressor-training role with simulation capability of current threat aircraft in fighter combat mode.

The F-5 was developed by Northrop Grumman for export through the Military Assistance Program (MAP) in February 1965.This aircraft was initially offered as a candidate for a U.S. lightweight fighter, but became extremely popular as an export finding its niche in the overseas market. In December 1970, Northrop Grumman began development and production on the F-5A-21, an aircraft design that emphasized maneuverability rather than high speed and was officially reclassified as the F-5E. The F-5N/Fs are third-generation F-5 fighter aircraft designed for replacement of the F-5A/B/E production models. These aging aircraft were replaced by low-hour F-5E/F aircraft acquired from the Swiss Air Force surplus by United States Navy (USN) in 2006.

The Swiss aircraft were updated as F-5N/Fs with modernized avionics and other improved systems and re-baselined by Northrup Grumman to USN configuration which provided a safer, lower-flight time Adversary aircraft with increased capability for Department of Navy (DoN) pilots. These aircraft are assigned to government facilities, namely, Naval Air Station (NAS) Key West, Florida, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, and NAS Fallon, Nevada and continue to support the adversary training mission. These aging aircraft were also supplemented with additional low-hour F-5E/F aircraft acquired from the Swiss Air Force surplus by United States Navy in 2020.

Image: U.S. Navy/Danette Baso Silvers

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