The US Navy project to upgrade a fleet of former Swiss Air Force F-5 fighters to the F-5N+/F+ standard reached Milestone C decision recently and is moving into production and deployment.
Managed by the Navy’s Specialized and Proven Aircraft program office (PMA-226), the F-5N+/F+ Avionics Reconfiguration and Tactical Enhancement/Modernization for Inventory Standardization (ARTEMIS) program will reconfigure the airframe and incorporate a block upgrade consisting of emerging and existing commercial technology.
The PMA-226 Adversary Team is inducting 22 repatriated, former Swiss Air Force F-5E/F aircraft into the ARTEMIS modification program to meet the Navy and Marine Corps requirement to increase fleet adversary training capacity with high-altitude tactical fighters.
In addition to airframe reconfiguration, the project will convert the F-5E/F engines to the Navy and Marine Corps standard F-5N/F. Once that is complete, the program will integrate the block upgrade, which consists of a new glass cockpit and avionics suite that uses technology found in more modern aircraft to improve safety and capability. Subsequent to this upgrade, the 22 aircraft will be in the F-5N+/F+ baseline configuration.
The Milestone C decision from June 28 follows the delivery of the first prototype F-5N to the Navy in September 2021.
The Adversary Team and industry partner Tactical Air Support, Inc. (Tactical Air Support) will execute the F-5N+/F+ ARTEMIS program. Tactical Air Support owns and operates F-5AT aircraft currently supporting PMA-226 tactical fighter training and has performed similar modernization and safety upgrades on its own fleet of aircraft. The company assisted in the validation of the block upgrade F-5N+/F+ configuration on two of the prototype Navy F-5Ns completed earlier this year, the navy said.
Capt. Gregory Sutton, PMA-226 program manager said, “This program will provide a fleet of upgraded, safe and modernized adversary aircraft, providing the realistic and relevant tactical training that our aviators need to win in the fight.”
To improve and enhance aircraft safety and mission effectiveness and to meet existing and emerging requirements and obsolescence issues, the ARTEMIS program integrates fully digitized avionics instrumentation and provides increased safety and capability upgrades. These upgrades will also add tactical capabilities designed to improve air-to-air training.
The F-5 fighters the US Navy acquired from the Swiss Air Force include 16 F-5Es and six F-5Fs. Is US Navy service, the F-5N accommodates a pilot in a pressurized, heated and air conditioned cockpit and rocket-powered ejection seat while the F-5F is a two-seat combat-capable fighter.
“PMA-226’s Adversary Team drove to a successful milestone decision by challenging norms to tailor the program requirements using a blend of commercial solutions and the lessons learned by our industry partners with a focus on desired outcomes and risk mitigation,” said Boyd Forsythe, PMA-226 F-5 Adversary Team lead.