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Canadair CF-5 Freedom Fighter (CF-116)

Canada (1968)
Picture of Canadair CF-5 Freedom Fighter (CF-116) Lightweight Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Combat Aircraft

As proved common for the RCAF in the Cold War period, an American fighter design was adopted for local production - the Canadair CF-5 being one of them.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Canadair CF-5 Freedom Fighter (CF-116) Lightweight Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Combat Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 7/5/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

When it came time for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) to upgrade it aged stock of 1950s-era fighter/fighter-bombers, it selected the lightweight, low-cost American Northrop F-5 "Freedom Fighter" as the CF-5 (officially as the "CF-116") with local production through Canadair. The Canadian version differed by improved short-field operations (through a "two-position" nose leg), an in-flight refueling probe being added to the nose, an interchangeable nose assembly (to serve either fighter or reconnaissance roles), an improved navigation suite, and Orenda (General Electric) J85-15 series engines. First flight of the CF-5 occurred during 1968 and service entry followed that year on November 5th. 220 of the type were eventually realized and these also went on to serve with the air forces of the Netherlands and Venezuela and a few other operators. Dutch NF-5s arrived in March of 1969.

The changes to the original F-5 were issued to suit RCAF requirements and went on to produce a more improved product form from the original American offering. Runway take-off distances were reduced due to the new nose leg which allowed for increased lift by varying the angle of attack. The in-flight probe allowed for extended mission endurance windows of airborne squadrons and the new navigation system was of a more advanced design. Local engine manufacture meant that local Canadian aero industry benefitted while airframes emerged from both Canadian and Dutch factories through a partnership with Fokker of the Netherlands (the initial 31 fuselages were from Fokker). The interchangeable nose assembly allowed a "quick change" feature for the basic fighter-minded nose section to that of a camera-laden, reconnaissance-minded assembly - all the while the aircraft retained its combat capability.

The Canadian-Dutch agreement was signed in 1967 which spread out some of the production between the two nations while early Belgian interest in the CF-5 ultimately fell to naught leaving just the two players. Canadair retained a long-running history in regards to production of American-designed aircraft, the listing included the North American F-86 "Sabre" (as the CL-13), the Lockheed T-33 "Shooting Star" (as the CT-133 "Silver Star"), and the Lockheed F-104 "Starfighter" (as the CF-104).

As built, the CF-5 exhibited a running length of 47 feet, a wingspan of 25.9 feet, and a height of 13 feet. Externally, it showcased nearly the same design lines as the original Northrop F-5 product, requiring an attentive observer to truly identify physical differences between the two designs. Power was through 2 x Orenda J85-15 turbojet afterburning engines of 4,300lbf which provided a maximum speed of Mach 1.3 (approximately 980 miles per hour), a range out to 660 miles, a service ceiling up to 41,000 feet, and a rate-of-climb of 34,400 feet per minute.

Standard armament became 2 x 20mm Pontiac M39A2 cannons with 280 x 20mm projectiles afforded to each gun for close-in work. Five external hardpoints (four underwing, one center fuselage) provided launch points for rocket pods, conventional drop bombs, and jettisonable fuel tanks (for increased range). Wingtip stations retained their AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile launching capabilities from the original F-5 Freedom Fighter design.

Initial Canadian production models were the CF-5A single-seaters of which 89 were built and designated formally as CF-116A. The CF-5A(R) was the single-seat reconnaissance form and operated under the CF-116A(R) designation. The CF-5D was a two-seat model reserved for training and numbered 46 examples. Canadian CF-5s were retired in full by 1995. Several CF-5s were retained for display purposes throughout Canada.

The Royal Netherlands Air Force followed suit with both single-seat and two-seat forms - 75 of the NF-5A were produced along with 30 of the NF-5B respectively. This stock was eventually sold off to Greece, Turkey, and Venezuela with the introduction of Dutch General Dynamics F-16 "Fighting Falcons". The last NF-5 was removed from frontline service in 1991.

Any available statistics for the Canadair CF-5 Freedom Fighter (CF-116) Lightweight Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Combat Aircraft are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).




General Assessment (BETA)
Firepower  
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Performance  
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Survivability  
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Versatility  
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Impact  
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Rating: 80 (of 100)
The rating is an internal assessment derived from forty factors pertaining to this entry.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 1000mph
Lo: 500mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (979mph).

    Graph average of 750 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Canadair CF-5 Freedom Fighter's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
220
220


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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  Compare this entry against other aircraft using our Comparison Tool  
National Flag Graphic
Origin: Canada
Year: 1968
Type: Lightweight Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Combat Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Canadair - Canada / Fokker - Netherlands
Production: 220
Status: Active, Limited Service
Global Operators:
Botswana; Canada; Greece; Netherlands; Turkey; Venezuela
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Canadair CF-5 Freedom Fighter model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
47.18 ft


Meters
14.38 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
25.82 ft


Meters
7.87 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
13.12 ft


Meters
4 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
8,818 lb


Kilograms
4,000 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
20,393 lb


Kilograms
9,250 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x Avro Canada Orenda J85-GE-15 afterburning turbojet engines developing 4,300 lbf of thrust each.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
979 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
1,575 kph


Knots
850 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
870 mi


Kilometers
1,400 km


Nautical Miles
756 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
39,370 ft


Meters
12,000 m


Miles
7.46 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
34,400 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
10,485 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft rocket pod
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (7 (including wingtips)):

STANDARD, FIXED:
2 x 20mm M39A2 internal cannons over nose.

OPTIONAL:
Up to 7,000lb of externally-mounted stores across five hardpoints to include Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs), rocket pods and conventional drop (dumb) bombs.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• CF-5 - Alternative Designation
• CF-5A - Single-seat fighter; 89 examples
• CF-5A(R) - Single-seat reconnaissance model; limited production numbers.
• CF-5D - Two-seat trainer; 46 examples
• NF-5A - Dutch single-seat fighter; 75 examples
• NF-5B - Dutch two-seat trainer; 30 examples
• VF-5A - Venezuelan single-seat fighter
• VF-5D - Venezuelan two-seat trainer
• CF-116 - RCAF formal designation
• CF-116A - RCAF formal designation for single-seat fighter
• CF-116A(R) - RCAF formal designation for single-seat reconnaissance model.
• CF-116D - RCAF formal designation for twin-seat trainer