The first of 22 repatriated Swiss F-5 Tiger II aircraft arrives in the US via a USMC C-130J

The First of 22 repatriated Swiss F-5 Tiger II aircraft arrives at the Tactical Air Support facility at Cecil Field via a USMC C-130J

By Dario Leone
Apr 4 2024
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First of 22 repatriated Swiss F-5 Tiger II aircraft arrives in the US

The first of 22 repatriated Swiss F-5 Tiger II aircraft arrived at the Tactical Air Support facility at Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Florida, on Mar. 21, 2024 for the second phase of the Avionics Reconfiguration and Tactical/Modernization for Inventory Standardization (ARTEMIS) program.

The aircraft, which arrived via a US Marine Corps C-130J from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 234, marks a milestone that is the culmination of several months of engineering and maintenance efforts performed by the Tactical Air Support team in close coordination with Navy and Marine Corps stakeholders, said Capt. Greg Sutton, Specialized and Proven Aircraft Program Office (PMA-226) program manager.

“Expansion of the F-5 program ensures future success in training Navy and Marine Corps aviators,” Sutton said in a NAVAIR news release.

ARTEMIS Program

In 2020, the US Navy and the Swiss Government entered into an agreement to repatriate 22 Swiss Air Force F-5 aircraft into the US Navy and US Marine Corps Adversary fleet. As part of the ARTEMIS Program, the Tactical Air Support subcontractor, RUAG, located in Emmen, Switzerland, performs the program’s first phase with aircraft inspection, maintenance, structural component replacement, and engine modification and overhaul. Upon completion of this phase, the aircraft are transferred to Tactical Air Support’s facility to begin phase 2. During this phase, aircraft inspections, maintenance, and repair continue while integrating a new glass cockpit, modern avionics, and other safety modifications.

The first of 22 repatriated Swiss F-5 Tiger II aircraft arrives in the US via a USMC C-130J
The first of 22 repatriated Swiss F-5 Tiger II aircraft arrived at the Tactical Air Support facility at Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Florida, Mar. 21, 2024 for the second phase of the Avionics Reconfiguration and Tactical/Modernization for Inventory Standardization (ARTEMIS) program, ferried by a U.S. Marine Corps C-130J from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 234.

This block upgrade was tested back in 2021.

The F-5 aircraft receiving the block upgrade prototype modifications will be designated F-5N+/F+. The potential risk of loss of a pilot and/or aircraft will be reduced by adding necessary instrumentation that provides air-to-ground warning, severe weather protection, and fuel level warnings. This upgrade will also add tactical capabilities designed to improve “friendly” force air-to-air training.

Last Swiss F-5 Tiger II aircraft to arrive in 2028

Initial deliveries of the 22 aircraft are planned by mid-2025 with program completion in 2028 adding 11 F-5 Adversary aircraft to the each to the existing inventory of Navy and Marine Corps.

The sale, that encompasses 16 single-seat F-5E and 6 twin-seat F-5F variants represents the latest chapter in the retirement of Swiss Air Force Tigers (originally procured in the 1970s and 1980s). A significant portion of this fleet, 44 F-5s, were previously sold to the US Navy in 2008.

These earlier jets, originally employed by the Swiss Air Force for air defense duties, are now used by the US Navy as adversary aircraft. In fact, three reserve command squadrons of former Swiss Air Force Northrop F-5N Tiger IIs, plus three F-5F ‘Frankentiger’ two-seaters, which mated existing F-5F front fuselages with former Swiss rear fuselages, are currently operated by the US Navy and US Marine Corps.

VFC-111 F-5Ns Print
This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-5N Tiger II – Sundowners Rising, VFC-111 Sundowners, 2007

Photo credit: U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy


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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.
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