Last week Embraer delivered the last modernized F-5M fighter to the Brazilian Air Force (FAB). The Northrop aircraft upgrade program was launched in 2000 and only five years later the first jet was delivered. By 2013, another 45 planes had been modernized, all from the first batch.
In 2011, the FAB signed a new agreement with Embraer to update 11 more F-5s purchased from Jordan, but only three of them have been modernized. Instead, part of these fighters ended up being auctioned by the Air Force as replacement parts.
With the end of the US$ 372 million program, Brazil now has 49 F-5M fighters with an extended life span of 15 years. These aircraft started to receive new equipment such as avionics and multifunctional monitors in the cockpit. The pilot also started to count on HMD helmets (Helmet-Mounted Display).
The F-5M was equipped with Leonardo’s Grigo F radar, capable of detecting targets up to 80 km, but lost one of the 20 mm cannons. Thanks to the new radar, the fighter can transport Rafael Derby missiles by active radar, in addition to infrared missiles such as Python IV and the Brazilian MAA-1B.
Finally, the FAB fighter now has chaff and flare launchers for defense, an electronic warfare system and encrypted communication.
Waiting for the F-39 Gripen
With the retirement of the Mirage 2000 at the beginning of the decade, it was up to the F-5M to assume the air defense of Brazil until the arrival of the Saab F-39 Gripen from 2021.
Northrop’s fighter will leave the Anapolis airbase in the center of the country and will continue to be based in locations such as the south, southeast and the Amazon region.