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Aviation and Antaircraft Troops
till 31-12-95
Schweizer Luftwaffe / Forces Aériennes Suisse / Forze aeree svizzere
Swiss Air Force
- from 01-01-96

     Credit: Roundels of the world

                                        Last update 05-02-2024

The first evaluation of the Northrop F-5 was in June 1967, versions F-5A/F-5B, competeing against the LTV A-7A Corsair and the Douglas A-4M as a fighter-bomber but any decision was postponed to
a later (unknown) time.

The year 1972 saw a new selection round to replace the remaining Hawker Hunter; Saab J-37, McDonnell F-4, GAMD Mirage F.1 and the Northrop F-5E Tiger participated to it. Air support capabilities were
abandoned in favour of a local air superiority at low and medium altitudes (up to 6'000m), interception/ground attack being secondary functions. The Tiger was from the very beginning the preferred aircraft,
particularily in view of its militia suitability.

Evaluation during 1973 involved an in-depth scrutinity of the Tiger; two Swiss test pilots went in the autumn to the USA for a pre-evaluation, following which Swiss in-country tests were requested.

These started on 08-08-74 with the arrival at Emmen AB of 1 Lockheed C-130 transporting ground equipment/personnel for the two aircrafts (serials 71-01421/72-01386) destined to start trials on
12-08-74 at Emmen AB, completed by September 23rd 1974. On September 30th they left for Ramstein AFB.

Actual testing lasted two weeks; it included 62 flights fomm Emmen AB, Meiringen AB and from St. Stephan AB. Five Swiss pilots had been trained between mid-June and mid-July at Williams AFB for a total of 18.55 hours
on Northrop F-5B and 25.21 hours on the Tiger; four other pilots (including a militia one) were checked out in Switzerland on the single-seaters.
Mock air-combats were engaged against an Hawker Hunter Mk.58 and an Mirage IIIS; cannon firings against a target towed by an Hawker Hunter as well as against the wreck of a grounded
de Havilland Venom.

                                                                        Archive: Franz Wegmann
                                 Northrop F-5E's 01421/01386 together with Hawker Hunter  Mk.58A J-4157      High mountain Alpine insignia worn on the fin by Northop
                                         over Central Switzerland              Photos: Swiss AF                                             F-5E serial 11421 on 23-09-74 during Swiss trials.

Trials took place at Emmen, Meiringen, St Stephan Airports. The last (seen above) was a war base, only to be activated for repetition courses and in case of war.

         Photo: Swiss AF
Northrop F-5E manually pushed into a cavern

            Northrop F-5E 01386 parked in the St Stephan AB cavern during trials, serial                       Northrop F-5E 11421, next to seral 01386, being tugged out of the cavern
1421 already fastened to the top                                                                Photos: Swiss AF

No decision had been taken at this time wether to re-equip 4 or 5 Squadrons, needing 60 or 80 aircrafts (some of them two-seaters) and if to build or assemble the aircraft under licence in Switzerland. Finally,
a decision was made to buy 66 Northrop F-5E, 13 built by Northrop, the remainder to be assembled by the local Federal Aircraft Factory (Eidgenössischen Flugzeugwerk) at Emmen, plus 6 double-seaters F-5F
built by Northrop. These were to re-equip four Hawker Hunter Mk.58 equipped Squadrons of 12 aircrafts plus 3 reserves each.

Requested modifications to the basic aircraft included a Rear Warning Radar, instllation of a Swiss IFF system, antiskidding brakes, a fatigue meter, an improved General Electric APQ-159 radar and, for operation
from bases' montaneous caverns used as hangars, a gaseous oxygen system as well as strenthening of wing hardpoints to attach the aircraft to the cavern's roof.

Authorisation for a credit of 1'170 millions Swiss Francs (ca USD 400m at the time) was given by the Swiss parliament on 16-03-76; Foreign Military Sales contract with the US Government (named "Peace Alps")
was signed on 30-03-76, the USAF being responsiblefor the execution.

A further contact between the Swiss Federal Factory and Northrop granted the licence for local assembly; all General Electric J-85-A-21 engines were purchased directly in USA and airfreighted ex Boston via the
national carrier Swissair.
Offset production for Swiss products (not necessarily military) was established with a target set to at least USD 135m (ca 30% of the costs); by November 1981 it had reached USD 209m (55%).

Events followed very fast after the signature of the contract of 19 complete aircrafts (1 Northrop F-5E and 12 Northrop F-5F) 53 groups of aircrafts parts (Northrop F-5E) to be assembled in Swizerland.

  A team of 13 ground technicians went to the USA for 5 weeks; two pilots, including the Armament Service - Flight Test Center (Gruppe für Rüstungsdienste - Flugversuche/GRD) chief pilot, went
  for five weeks in mid
1978 to Edwards AFB for tests and evaluation flights. There were initially problems with the braking system, insufficent on wet runways, and with the unsatisfactory radar
  during night flights.

   Sub-assemblies for the first two aircrafts to be locally assembled arrived at Emmen on 30-11-77 on board of a Trans International Lockheed L-100.

   Badge of Swiss Tiger Team (technical team) in USA

First Palmdale completed aircraft was the second frame (serial J-3002), rolled out at Palmdale on 19-10-77, while the first Swiss frame (serial J-3001) was first flown on 09-12-77. This aircraft undertook all Swiss
specific tests and remained at the USAF Flight Test Center, Edwards AFB, till at least July 1979 to complete the test programm. First flight of a Swiss two-seater (serial J-3201) followed on 07-03-78.

Consideration was given to airfreight the Northrop-built aircrafts to Switzerland but delivery on board USAF Lockheed C-5A Galaxy was less expensive; Tigers were accepted by the USAF at Palmdale's Northrop plant,
tested, flown to McClellan AFB where they were disassembled and prepared for delivery between December 1977 and December 1979.

The first Tigers arrived at Emmen AB on 22-08-78, five single- and one double seaters. Additional deliveries by Lockhed C-5A followed on 21-09-78 and on 18-10-78, completing the first part of the contract; all were
on boad of a Douglas C-5A and took place at Emmen AB.

/    Photos: F+W Emmen      
     With tiger painted on nose; of note early training AIM-9B Sidewinder 
(nose                                        Clean View of the last first batch two-seate shortly before delivery to the Air Force in 1979
     sensor only active) on wingtip. This weapon was actually rarely used by the Tiger.                               with non-standard white underbelly tank.

Arrival at Emmen AB of the first batch on 22-08-78 (four single- and two two-seaters) coincided with the official roll-out of the first locally assembled aircraft (serial J-3014), whose first flight took place on
29-08-78 from Emmen AB; local assembly had started in January 1978, J-3015 an J-3016 were noted
on the same date being assembled. It needed approximately eight months for each frame to be
completed: the aircrafts reached the Air Force after having been handed-over to the BAMF which checked its  status/operability and, if to its entire satisfaction, accepted and readied for operation.
complete spare-parts stock, consisting of 150 tons of aircraft and ground equipment was delivered by October 1979.
Radar and navigation simulators were also bought. Second delivery was at Emmen
on 24-09-78.

Air-to-air missiles were used, initially in the form of AIM-9B Sidewinders, followed by AIM-9E3 Sidewinders in 1974; financing to upgrade these last to AIM-9P3 for sFr 75m was granted on 18-09-78; newer
the AIM-9P-4 missiles were received
beginning 1988 and later (1990 to 1995) modified to the P-5 versions.

A Tiger Instruction Group, formed by professional pilots, was established on 01-08-77 to ease the introduction of the fighter and to develop new tactics as as well to translate technical documentation in

Basic training of four professional instructors and one Federal Office for Military Airports (Bundesamt für Militärflugplätze/BAMF) pilot started on 05-08-78 at Williams AFB with the 425th Squadron; of these,
the Swiss Air Force head instructor and one instructor pilot attended the Fighter Weapons Instructor course in November/December 1978. Air combat instructors were to follow years later.

First Northrop F-5E was handed over to the Air Force on 10-10-78, one month ahead of schedule; by the end of 1978 eight had been accepted (4 more than scheduled) which had flown a total of 29 hours.
First landing at other Air Bases was at Sion on 02-11-78, followed by Payerne AB on 24-01-79.

                                                                                             Photo: Swiss AF
                                                               First batch Northrop F-5F serial J-3018 and Northrop J-3207; of note
no VHF antenna, black radar radome

Twelve pilots from Staffel 11 and four from Staffel 18 were the first ones to be converted on the new fighter. Official first public appearance was atr Zürich on 107-03-79, flying mock attacks by 7 single-
and 3 double-seaters

All six two-seaters, plus 16 single-seaters had been delivered on 11-04-79; 1'000 flying hours had been flown by mid 1979, more than 2'000 hours by the end of the year. Official hand-over to the  Air Force
was at Meirigen AB on 30-10-79.

The three main peace-time bases (Payerne, Dübendorf, Meiringen) plus Interlaken maintenance base were adapted to the Northrop F-5 and conversion training of the first two professional Squadrons started
during 1979.

Official hand-over to the two combat ready units, Squadron 11 and 18, took place at Meiringen AB on 30-10-79, 25 single- and 6 double-seaters had been handed over to the Air Force by this day. By
31-10-80 there were respectively 51 and 6 in use; seventy-two pilots belonging to all four foreseen Squadrons had completed their technical conversion and air combat training for a total of each 60 exercises
in approximately 6'000 flying hours; twenty 100 hours checks had been undertaken on airframes. First militia pilots conversion was at Payerne AB on Northrop F-5F, simulator was not acailable. A Radar-
Training Cockpit (RATRA) was bought later, without any visuals or motion possibility.

The last aircraft was accepted by the Air Force on 09-04-81, when a total of approximately 10'000 hours had been already flown by the fleet. Complete maintenance and equipment independence had already
been reached by March 1981.

Two Tiger equipped units were manned by pilots of the Surveillance Wing by 1981, one additional was in conversion in 1983; all three reached combat-ready status during March 1985.

    Photo: Swiss AF   
Northrop F-5F J-3203 with badges of Squadron 11 and 18 flying over the Swiss alps. This is one of           
Northrop F-5E J-3021 at Dübendorf AB on 27-08-80 with Squadron 11 badge, still without.
three known to have been decorated with two Squadrons badges.                                                            
nose antenna modification and VHF radio.

Loss of the first Tiger (serial J-3013!) took place on 21-05-81 during an exercise involving 4 Northrop F-5E protecting 4 Hawker Hunter Mk.58 fighter-bombers, due to the collision with one of three Mirage IIIS
intercepting the formation.


The presence of three Squadrons equipped with very aged de Havilland Venoms dictated the urgent necessity to purchase additional Northrop fighters.

A request for a second batch of 36 Northrop F-5E and 6 Northrop F-5F at a cost of sFr 770 millions for two Squadrons was approved by the parliament on 04-03-81. The price included munition, spare parts,
support equipment and training support. An offset programm for Swiss products for the value of around sFr 300m was foreseen. Only the first single-seater was to be built at Palmdale, all the remaining aircrafts
were to be assembled at the Swiss Federal Factory in Emmen; their flaps, elevators, ailerons and rudders, for a value of sFr 65m, were to be manufactured in Switzerland. The Palmdale built aircraft touched
Swiss soil in Emmen AB
on 17-02-83, coming from Prestwick (UK). 

An average of two airframes per month were subsequently assembled at Emmen. Modifications to the first batch included a "shark" nose, automatic slats and flaps plus a larger leading edge to improve stall and
handling characteristics, particularly useful in the mountains.


                                              Last aircraft of each type received an under-nose special painting; on the left hand side (Peace Alps II), right J-3212
                                              On top of the
J-3098 photo: inscription ELDA ELM used for radiation measurements flights.

The same modifications were applied to aircrafts of the first  batch (see here serial J-3062)  starting from 1986 with a programme taken care by F+W Emmen. An VHF radio had already been added in 1982.
External changes are clearly visible on above four-ship formation. The nearest two aircrafts carry red painted Sidewinders and underbelly tanks to be better visible
in order to avoid collisions during mock dog-
fightings. The ones in the back ground have normal, yellow paintedtraining missiles on the wingtips.

In 1985 4 "on-bord operators" of the 6 Staffel and 2 of the 18 Staffel started training (mainly for navigation and radar duties); in 1990 they were operational on Northrop F-5F. This was following the USA experience in
South Vietnam. The pilot was responsible
to fly the aircraft amd the operator for all other duties till the arrival of the McDonnell F/A-18, when operators were responsible for Target Tug ane Electronic Warfare against the
new aircrafts.

Swiss Tiger programm came to an end on 27-03-85, when the last single-seater was handed-over to the Air Force. Fly-away price of an single-seater of the second batch was sFr 13m, of a double-seater
sFr 15m. Between 1978 and 1979 several Lockheed C-130 landed in Emmen
with aircraft kits. The Swiss factory needed an average of 8 months for the assemblage of an airframe.

Compensation programms were completed by mid 1987: total value for the first batch reached USD 209m between 1975 and 1981, total value for the second batch USD 272m by 1987.

One two-seater (serial J-3209) was leased to Emerson Electric to show off a new radar, the APG-69, at the Le Bourget airshow in June 1985. This radar was not adopted by Switzerland.

During the same month a contract was awarded to Northrop for full scale development and production of  the Northrop AN/ALQ-171(V) Self-Defence ECM system. Unfortunately this did not
come up to expectation and was abandoned at the end of 1989. It was replaced in January 1993 by an order for Ericsson Erijammer Vista 5A/100 to equip four Northrop F-5E plus Pilatus PC-9s
for training purposes only, delivery started in 1994.

Phase-out plans of Hawker Hunter in Swiss service led in 1990-91 to a fighter-bomber feasability (with 2 BL-755 cluster-bombs or rockets rails) of the Tiger aircraft. Two units were to have a
ground-attack role. The study highlighted the limited suitability of the aircrafts as a fligher-bomber due to low armament carrying capability, high modification costs (between 600
and 1000
millions Swiss Francs) and late availability (1997/78). The contemporary purchase of McDonnel F/A18 might have had influence on the negative decision. on 15-06-91 was the study
stopped as well as the purchase of Maverick air-to-ground missiles.

Another specific Swiss Tiger modification was the adaptation of four Northrop F-5E to tow for air-to-air shooting the Saab MBV-2S dart target (formerly used by Hawker Hunter Mk.58); first test flight took
place on 06-02-97, trials were completed by March 1997.

                                                                                       This picture of Sion AB gives an idea how the airports in narrow valleys are!

                     Storage and aircrafts lifting in the cavern...........                                                                             ........... and being towed out at Turtmann AB

Aircrafts have been stored at mountain bases in caverns, here under Nothrop F-5E J-3041 being towed out of a well camouflaged one at Buochs AB on 29-04-03.

                                                                     First batch Northrop F-5E J-3041 modified to the latest standard, seen at Turtmann AB on 15-04-02 crossing
                                                                     the town road to reach its caverns. another Swiss speciality! Clearly visible is the two-grey camouflage.

                                           Very clean over- and underwing view on an VHF radio and sharkmouth nose updated Northrop F-5E Tiger     Photos: Wilen Reto/unknown

            Photo: Swiss Defence Department
                                                           Final first batch Northrop J-3066 in an unusual configuration, 3x275 gallons tanks underwings/underfuselage over the alps

A civilian organisation, the Federal Office for Military Airports (Bundesamt für Militärflugplätze, from 01-01-96
Bundesamt für Betriebe der Luftwaffe) has been responsible for first and second level mainte-
nance of the Tigers. Additionally to Air Bases operations during peace-time maintenance was taken care during emergency time by an Aviation Company (Fliegerkompanie/Companie Aviation)
at each
base. Main frames maintenance was situated at Interlaken AB; Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, together with General Electric J-85 engines,
maintenance was undertaken at Buochs/Enetmoos .

Modification of the nose cone was started in 1982 by the Emmen factory: a grey, flat cone was inserted together with an VHF antenna.

First important check regarding the whole fleet was in 1997, due to lose a bolt discovered on one aircraft; the discovery of fatigue cracks in the wings and again of a defectuos bolt in 1997 brought a
serious crise: half of the fleet had to be grounded for some time. A new check of all aircrafts' elevator had to be undertaken end of 2000 under an USAF directive; this reduced fighter availability for
two weeks

         Photo: RUAG
                                                                                           Maintenance of the Tiger was done by RUAG company at Emmen AB

  Third level maintenance was provided by the Emmen factory till it was transferred to the Interlaken branch of the same company on  01-01-96.

  The 100th main check was completed   on 15-12-98, this airframe (J-3066) received on this occasion a special decoration on the tail tha twas removed
  on returning the aircraft to the Air Force.


General reduction of military expenses came with the end of Cold War, together with a wide ranging restructuration programm, beginning during 1995, completed in 2005.

The Tiger fleet was scaled down from 101 to 85 active aircrafts in 1998, 16 were put in storage, while the last night flights were stopped during the same year.
The last airframe overhauled at Interlaken AB left the base on 22-12-99, shortly before this base was closed to jet operations on 31-12-99. This aircraft received a special undernose painting to comme-
morate the two events.

McDonnel F/A-18s re-equipped in 1998 and 1999 two Northrop F-5E Squadrons while a second reduction round started on 31-12-03 with the disbandment of two Squadrons and the withdrawal of
another 31 aircrafts (54 remaining in use). All
 forty-six redundant Northrop F-5E were put up for sale (an aircraft had been damaged and withdrawn from use earlier).


Four permanent Tiger bases (Dübendorf, Payerne, Meiringen, Interlaken) were kept operational; some were closed (Mollis, Turtmann, Interlaken), placed on a "sleeping" status (Buochs) or kept for helicopter
use only.

            Photo: unknown
                                                                                                                               Line-up at Meiringen AB in a typical Swiss alpine background.

           Photo: Swiss AF
                                                                                                   Northrop F-5E combat patrol with active Sidewinder AIM-9

A last upgrade in communication technology took place in 2000: Have Quick I radios were installed in the aircrafts to make them compatible with McConnell F-18s.

Twelve Northrop F-5F were kept for general services, electronic warfare and advanced pilot training - a new duty following retirement of the Swiss BAe Hawk on 13-12-04.

  Badge of Turtmann AB' ground crew (Air Base Section 3, base maintenance/Aviation Company 8, aircrafts maintenance) painted on some Tiger's nose to remember the closure of
  this base on 31-03-03.

Jet aircrafts operation out of Dübendorf AB (the first ever Swiss base) ended on 31-12-05, reducing operational bases to three. Five single- and four double-seaters based there were distributed among
other bases on 15-12-04.

The year 2009 saw the grounding of four double-seaters when they approached the need for major servicing: Pilatus PC-21 took over the advanced jet pilot training in mid 2008; four were to be flown
up to the moment they needed main checks and maintained flying able with a minimum of servicing. The remaining four active ones were to be kept for Target Towing and Electronic Warfare and
militia pilots training.

The Tiger fleet reached the goal of 250'000 flight hours in January 2010.

At the end of November 2014 the Air Force had 42 Northrop F-5E and 12 Northrop F-5F on strength; of these 36 machines were operational. Eighteen aircrafts needed in-deep maintenance, which was
not foreseen.
Wiithin the next 2 years in-deep maintenance was necessary on  2 single- and 8 double-seaters but they were only to be flown up to the end of their flying hours, while minimun maintenance was to keep
on them as a reserve in order to be again available in case of necessity.

.                                                                                               Photo: Dirck Voortmans

.                                                                                             Photo: Defence Department

                                                            The official team "Patrouille Suisse" keeps flying its demonstrations with Tigers, here near to the Matterhorn mountain

RUAG Aviation and Space, former Eidgenössischen Flugzeugwerk Emmen (EFW)/S+F Aerospace

RUAG Aviation and Space was formed on 01-01-99, in the wawe of the restructurating as a holding company comprising the aircraft factory at Emmen plus additional aviation related factories responsible for
manufacturing, maintenance, repair and overhaul of aircrafts and instruments. The factory is still in charge to repair and maintain the Swiss F-5 fleet; it has signed a roaming agreement with Northrop
Grumman to provide additionally worldwide support, modification and upgrade programms to countries still flying the aircraft.


Brazil Signed a Memorandum of Interest on 15-10-02 for 16 Northrop F-5E, 8 to be modified as double-seaters; it modified later its request wishing original Swiss double-seaters; this request was rejected as
these were not up for sale. A Swiss offer, in 2003, to transfer 2 F-5F and 14 single-seaters was not accepted.

US Navy More luck had the sale of an initial lot of 32 single-seaters from the first batch for a price of sFr 25m; a contract was signed on 07-03-03. These were aircrafts in need of a general overhaul having
flown between1'800 and 2'400 hours. They were to be modified according to US Navy wishes and restored to flying capability by Grumman Northrop before being transferred to US Navy and US Marines
aggressor units.

The sale was endangered for some time by the restrictions to arms exports imposed by the Swiss government following US invasion of Iraq on 30-03-03; but these were cancelled in mid-April. The first aircraft
left Emmen on board of an US Navy Lockheed C-130T on 02-05-03. Only five were delivered in 2003 due to US Navy budgetary problems, seven followed in 2004.
Sixty General Electric J-85 engines were overhauled at Emmen by RUAG, while an additional 18 were sold as reserves.

Twelve additional single-seaters were optioned in small batches, bringing total costs to USD 50m; options were later all taken up bringing thr tptsl to 44 aircrafts bought.

.                                                                                        Photo: US Navy
                                                                                      Loading the first US Navy aircraft, serial J-3026 at Emmen on 02-05-03

Twenty five aircrafts had been delivered to the US Navy by April 2006; the very last Tiger (serial J-3025) left Emmen on 13-11-07, being airfreighted to Northrop-Grumman's facility at St. Augustine, Florida, on a
US Navy C-130T.

Interestingly, three former Swiss aircrafts were modified to double-seater by Grumman Northrop.

Swiss Governement requested authorisation in 2018 to withdraw from use 27 of 53 remanining F-5s; purchase interest was shown by the US Navy, though the aircraft had been out of service since some years and
had no flight-hours left. They had to be accordingly overhauled for further utilisation. Maintance/control costs for the stocked aircrafts in Switzerland was 600' 000 Swiss Francs each year.
Discussions for an additional sale of 22 Northrop F-5 started in July 2019 but were not concluded by January 2020.

.                                                                                                       Photo: archive the Northrop F-5 Enthusiast

                                            Northrop F-5F J-3207 stored at Meiringen AB awaiting sale on 09-08-11.  In the background an Northrop F-5E, also withdrawn from use.

Unofficial sources reported in 2014 that 18 aircrafts were to be sold to the USA, the contract to be finalised by the end of 2014;

A request to buy additional 22 ex-Swiss Tigers has been rejected in the 2020 Fiscal Year, discussions for additionl 22 aircrafts started in July 2019 but not concluded by January 2020, Value stated to be USD 40m
and delivery expected by 2021. By mid-20 there were at least 10 Northrop F-5 2 Northrop F-5F,  8 F-5E) stored at Emmen AB, later stocket at Däbendorf AB.

Austria Not a sale but a lease was arranged in mid-February 2004; 12 Northrop F-5E were leased for four years, with an option for extension of a maximum of two years. The contract was signed at the end of
April 2004 with the Swiss armament Agency "Armasuisse" to the approximate cost of Euro 14m per year. This included logistics for the Austrian main and reserve base (Graz-Thalerhof and Linz-Hörsching), docu-
mentation, armament, training of flight and maintenance crews as well as maintenance of the aircraft by RUAG at Emmen.

The first four aircrafts (serials J-3005/30/33/65) were trasferred from Emmen to Graz-Thalerhof on 07-07-04, officially accepted on 09-07-04; the last (serial J-3014) followed on 14-12-05.

All former Austrian Tigers were returned, starting on 30-06-08, ending on 24-07-08; ten are confirmed to have been returned to Swiss service.


Northrop F-20 82-0062/N4416T was demonstrated unofficially to the Swiss military authorities at Emmen AB on 20-09-83 as a possible successor to the Tiger but did not arouse local interest.

Initial thoughts for a replacement fighter were made at the beginning of the 2000's; an offer by Israel's IAI to modernise the remaining Tigers in order to keep them operational till 2020 at a rather low cost
was not accepted.

Instead, fourth generation fighters were taken into consideration, starting a very controversial selection exercise/saga.

Offer were requested for Saab JA-39 Gripen, Boeing F-18E/F, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon; these (with the exeption of the Boeing F-18E/F) were tested in depth in Switzerland in 2008 but lack of
finance postponed
several times the definitive selection till 2012, meaning that the good, old Tiger remained in use (this without any in-depth upgrade!).

At present Northrop F-5Es are used as "aggressors" against McDonnell F/A-18s and as targets for the Swiss Army anti-aircraft units as well as for relieving the more modern fighters from general air policing
during day-time.

  In the meantime Swiss Tiger pilots training has been discontinued in 2007; some aircraft obtained the logo shown here to commemorate the end of the last F-5
  pilot school class ended mid 2008, being replaced on Piatus PC-21. No new militia pilots will be trained, some Hornet pilots wii be retrained on the Tiger.

Surprisingly, a request to check feasibility to extend the life of Tigers (approximately 30) for 15 to 20 years (up to 2031!) was issued by the Swiss Defence ministry on 20-04-11, just in case the purchase
of a new fighter would be delayed.

On 30-11-11 the Swiss government announced it had decided to purchase 22 Saab J-39 Gripen as the Tiger successor, though this selection was highly contested.

Approval by the Swiss parliament for the purchase was given in automn 2013 but a referendum was set for 18-05-14 for the definitive approval of fundings by Swiss people. Funds for the purchase of the
Saab Gripen were denied and by mid-June 2014 a new appraisal to keep the Tigers left in service for approximately another 10 years (with modifications) was requested by the Swiss parliament. This was
informed on 29-08-14 that the costs for upgrading Northrop F-5s would vary between 900m SFr (day only, minimal instrumental/night operations) and 1.2 billions (for full air defence equipment day/night
operations), both costs being const dered too expensive. Mid February 2022 was annouced that the Tigers should be retired between 2016 and 2018 and put on sale.

Non-Swiss sources mentioned that a contract was signed by Uruguay in October 2014 for the acquisition of 8 single-seaters and 2 double-seaters to replace their Cessna A-37B;
hese were to be delivered between late 2016 and 2018 in several batches. The airframes would be donated by Switzerland, the aircrafts to be put under a major overhaul/modernisation
by the Swiss company RUAG for USD 20m; sales were officially denied.

A crack on an aircraft's supporting structure was found during a major overhaul in 2014, followed by another aircraft in January 2015; the Air Force ordered subsequently an inspection on the entire fleet,
completed in April 2014.

On 20-04-15 it was officially mentioned that 36 (out of 54) Tigers were serviceable plus 16 where cracking had been discovered; 6 would be repaired and returned to service while 9 single- and 1 double-
seater would not be reapared. Repaired are from 2016 F-5E J-3073, J-3082, J-3093, J-3094, J-3095 and Northrop J-3201
. By August 2015 there were 11 in Patrouille Suisse colours acrobatic team
aircrafts, 11 grey Tigers and 4 double-seaters.
Another source metioned in January 2015 that only 36 aircrafts are operational, additional 18 are needed deep maintenance (not to be done). Only 22 single- and 4 double-seater were to be maintained
in use. Two Northrop F-5E and 8 F-5F were to have in-depth maintenance in 2016 and 2017 but only the remaining hours would be flown by the aircrafts, followed by a reduced maintenance to keep them
operational for emergency situations only. They will not be in normal/training Squadron use.

Six withdrawn from use Northrop F-5E and F-5F were parked in April 2015 in the open air at Emmen since months due to missing space availability in the hangars.

The minister of defence proposed that the Air Force to buy a number of Gripen C and D in 2016 but this was not realised. According to statements in September 2015 a new evaluation for 22 (or more)
fighters had to take place; the Saab Gripen was withdawn from the competition by Saab and the EADS Rafale, the Lockheed Martin F-35 and the Boeing F-18 were still on the list of a possible purchase, to
be selected in 2020.

Three Northrop F-5Es units have been disbanded by the end of 2017, two being reformed following year to operate the remaining 22 single- and 4 double-seaters (service aircrafts) used to retain pilot
proficency, as ECM training aircrafts and as adersary for McDonnell F/A-18s, foreseen to last till at least 2025. The acquisition of 20 mm ammunition has been stopped due to budgetary problems;
the fate
also for the Sidewinders AIMP-9J Sidewinder and that of 15 F-5s and 9 F-5Fs retired (mainly stored at Emmen) has still to be decided. Northrop F-5s used for Electronic Warfare instruction were
on 31-12-17.

Sion AB (Base Ariénne 14/Air Base 14) was closed as an operational base after the last militia refresher course ended on 25-01-17. It still is used as a reserve basis, though originally planned to be completely
closed to all military jets.
The last shooting demonstration for the Tiger was held at the yearly Axalp show on 10-10-18, as the aircrafts will only be used as service (ancillary) aircrafts; but Northrop F-5E will be still there in form of
the Patrouille Suisse acrobatic demonstration unit.

End of 2021 there were 18 Northrop F-5 in use of which 10 were in Patrouille Swiss colours. For details of confirmed serials see Northrop F-5 and Northrop F-5F serials page.

By 01-08-19 the Tigers were foreseen to be kept in use till 2025; by February 2022 there were 20 single- and 5 two-seaters on strength. Operation of 10 single- and 2 double-seaters  behind the year 2025
would cost 9 millions Swiss Fracs owing to replacement of the INS and avionics components plus 25 million Francs operation costs each year

A successor to both the Tiger and to the MxDonnell Douglas was finally selected in the form of the Boeing F-35 and a contract for 36 was first provisionnally signed,  confirmed in March 2023.

First Northrop aircraft of the secon batch left Switzerland (Emmen AB) on board an US Marines Lockheed KC-130J