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By Navy Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Wells
After more than two decades, depot maintenance and modification for military F-5 fighter jets has left this coastal Florida city. In late July, Navy Capt. Jeffrey Carty, commander of Defense Contract Management Agency Aircraft Integrated Maintenance Operations, and Navy Cmdr. Mitchell Conover of Fleet Readiness Center South East, delivered the final F-5 from here. SF-09, an F-5F variant, is now in service with the Sun Downers of Fighter Squadron Composite 111 (VFC-111) at Naval Air Station Key West.
“We’re proud to have performed oversight on the F-5 maintenance and modification contracts,” said Carty. “The Navy will continue the work through its Fleet Readiness Centers. It’s been a pleasure to serve the Navy and Marine Corps through the F-5 program, and to get to fly these light fighters.”
The first F-5 was rolled out May 30, 1959 for a crowd of distinguished visitors from more than 40 allied nations in Hawthorne, California. The last F-5E Tiger II was produced in 1987, and the production lines closed after more than 2,000 aircraft were built. The program then transitioned to sustainment and logistics support. F-5 operations began in St. Augustine in 1999, when Northrop Grumman began performing phased depot maintenance for the Navy’s F-5 E/F fleet.
After decades of success as a tactical fighter and trainer, F-5s still serve the Navy and Marine Corps as part of the fleet adversary program. Units like VFC-111 use them to provide air combat training to fleet strike fighter and Marine fighter attack squadrons, as well as Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard fighter squadrons.
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