The F-5 was originally developed to be compatible with the requirements for a short-range, defensive fighter suitable for use in the furtherance of US foreign policy objectives of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s through the Military Assistance Program (MAP). In accordance with these policy objectives, the F-5 was designed to have limited internal and external fuel volume, giving it a relatively limited range.
Over time, the customers for the F-5 came to include many countries that did not fit the geo-political profile of the original MAP customers, such as Brazil and Saudi Arabia. Some of these customers required greater range from the F-5. In order to enhance the payload-range characteristics of the aircraft, Northrop developed an AR probe system that provided the capability to perform in-flight refueling. This system was offered as a customer-selected option that would then be installed on the production line at the Northrop factory. In order to accommodate the AR system, some important structural beef-up was required. Unfortunately, many F-5 aircraft were manufactured without the structural provisions for the AR probe system installed.
In response to the requirement to add aerial refueling capability to F-5 aircraft that did not receive structural provisions during manufacture, TCA has developed a proprietary structural and systems modification kit to allow these aircraft to be capable of day or night refueling of all internal fuel cells and selected external fuel tanks using the “probe-and-drogue” system. The TCA Aerial Refueling (AR) System consists of permanently installed components and structural reinforcements along with an external, detachable AR probe assembly. The TCA AR System is applicable to all F-5s including the F-5A/B/E/F.
The TCA AR modification kit is the only one that has been developed for the dual-seat F-5F. Importantly, TCA’s AR modification kit has been certified by the USAF. The first customer for the TCA AR System was the Fuerza Aérea de Chile (FACh) for 13 F-5E and 3 F-5F AR Systems. The TCA F-5 AR System is in daily operational service. It incorporates many proprietary design features and has been approved for refueling with KC-135, KC-10, KC-130 and S-3A tankers.
- Developed independently of Northrop.
- The first retrofit of Aerial Refueling to the dual-seat F-5F
- Fully developed and is in daily operational service.
- Approved by the USAF and USN for refueling with KC-135,KC-10, KC-130 and S-3A tankers