Last update 02-09-2013BASES PROCUREMENT
single- and two double-seater were handed over to Libya at Mc Clellan
AFB (USA) between May and November 1968; deliveries should have started as
3 F-5A in July 1968 (another source state during the year 1969, including 7 Northrop F-5A), two Northrop F-5B.
3 F-5As and one F-5B were air-delivered to Wheelus AFB near Tripoli via
Malta on 25/26-05-69 (confirmed). The remaining 2 single- and 1
place later in 1969 (not confirmed). The USA training team arrived at Wheelous AB (near Tripois) contemporanely.
The Government of Libya was keen to receive, as per in June 1969 agreement when the USA agreed to sell 8 additional Northrop F-5 (to be supplied in January and February
1971), but the US Governemnt (after a long political review) embargoed them, diverting the Northrop F-5s to South Vietnam.
Northrop F-5A 22551 at Benghazi-Benina on 15-04-69 Photo: Terry Murphy Transiting Malta on 25-05-69 was F-5B-25 21278 Photo: Victor Pisani
Photo: US Department of Defence
Line-up at Wheelus AFB of 2 Northrop F-5B (nearest one serial 21278) and 7 Northrop F-5A
Rocket launcher equipped line-up of Northrop F-5A (where/when/ meanng of photo arabic inscription?)
CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT
A pan-Arab military coup had ousted the Libyan King on September 1st, 1969 when the Libyan Arab Republic was established; following this the name was changed from Royal Libyan AF to Libyan Arab Republic AF
and Wheelus AFB renamed Oka Ben Nafi AB.
Differences in policies regarding the Middle East between Lybia and the USA/United Kingdom led the Lybian to request the
closure of their Wheelus AFB/RAF El Adem local bases; withdrawal of these was completed
respectively on 11-06-70 and 28-06-70.
US training detachment left when the base was closed; contemporanously the US
government put an embargo on the 8 additional
F-5As, foreseen to be supplied in 1970, and to spare parts. The Northrop
in-situ maintenance team was also withdrawn.
Northrop F-5B-25 at WheelusAFB/Okba Ben Nafi in April 1970 with new nationality markings.
The Greek AF took over local maintenance and training. Pilots were given a 240 hrs course on Lockheed T-33A before conversion to the Northrop fighter in Greece; 17 officer were charged with maintenance in Libya.
Lybia was still interested in the fighters, but was also ready to return the aircrafts already delivered if the USA wished this, but insisted on receiving the remaining 8 aircraftsl. It had already paid USD 22m out of
USD 40m stipulated on the purchase contractated at the end of October 1972. Additionally it also was interested in modifying the contract, replacing the single- with double-seaters.
All eight remaining Northrop F-5A were build and placed in storage awaiting a definitive political decision. This came iafter a long time in form of an embargo and the fighters were supplied to the Republic of Vietnam AF.
It is not known how long the Freedom Fighters were kept flying due to missing embargoed spare parts. Replacement
for the Northrop fighter came from France in the form of a large number
of Dassault Mirage (110!)
in various models; the initial purchase contract was signed in January 1970.
sale of 5 CASA built Northrop F-5B, as advanced trainer for future
Mirage pilots, was also taken under consideration by the US government but
rejected in December 1971. Delivery of spare parts produces in
Spain was approved, subjet to be given notice for the approval of the USA and Northrop.
Transfer to other countries and withdrawal/losses
Uncofirmed is the transfer of three Libyan Northrop F-5A to Pakistan; US sources mention the transit on 26-12-71 at Teheran IAP piloted by Pakistanis with Pakistani markings transiting from Turkey. This was too late
to participate to the war; the aircrafts were returned, possibly, on 20-07-72. The aircrafts came most proably from the Jordanian AF.
According to Turkish unofficial sources 7 Northrop F-5 (plus engines,
tyres and other parts) were transferred without US authorisation to Turkey in August/September 1975, as
part of an USD 33.6 million military aid
package. The USA government protested at this breach of the 1967 contract. Later sightings confirmed the use by Turkey of 5 ex Libyan Northrop F-5As and 2 Northrop F-5Bs.
Fate of missing three single-seaters already obtained by Lybia is reported as follows:
one dumped at Okba Ben Nafi AB, now named Mitiga AB (see photo below); this might have been the one damaged ca. July 1969 in a landing accident, possibly never repaired and later used in some form of anti-USA
propaganda actions (see US insignia on air-inlet) before having been withdrawn to the dump.
Photo: Chris Lofting
Northrop F-5A 22551 on 07-12-06 at Okba Ben Nafi AB/Mitiga AB, note US insigna on air intake
Arab name for the Royal Air Force
Any additional information/correction is most welcome.