03/31/2010. In 1954-1955 Welko Gasich and his team at Northrop developed the private venture N-156F family of supersonic aircraft. The T-38 trainer version was selected for the USAF and the F-5 fighter version was selected for the US military assistance plan. In 1965 Canada selected the Northrop aircraft, to be produced by Canadair under the company designation CL-219. A total of 115 airframes, 89 CF-5A fighters and 26 CF-5D trainers, were ordered, these being redesignated CF-116A and CF-116D respectively before the first flight in February 1968.
In 1966 the Klu (Koninklijke Nederlandse Luchtmacht, Royal Netherlands Air Force) selected also the F-5, and it signed a letter of intent with Canadair on January 30, 1967 for the production of 105 NF-5s made up of 75 single-seat NF-5As (s/n 3001 to 3075) and 30 two-seat NF-5Bs (s/n 4001 to 4030). The Klu also signed a co-operative manufacturing agreement between Canadair and the Dutch companies Fokker at Schiphol and Avio Diepen at Ypenburg, under which Avio and Fokker were to produce fuselage sections and tail assemblies which were then shipped to Canadair for final assembly.
The first aircraft, an NF-5A s/n 3001 was first flown on March 24, 1969 and delivered to Edwards AFB, California, USA on April 15. The aircraft was extensively tested in the USA and Canada, being delivered to the Netherlands two years later, on July 29, 1971. The Klu sent selected personnel to Canada for training on the CF-116 with No.1 FTS at Cold Lake, and those initial crews flew the NF-5s to Holland but, lacking provision for in-flight refueling, the aircraft were forced to stage through Goose Bay, Keflavik and Lossiemouth.
The initial crews also formed the nucleus of No.313 Squadron which formed as the NF-5 conversion unit, while operational conversion was conducted by No.315 Squadron at Twenthe AB with the Klu pilots still undergoing initial training in Canada. The last conversion training sortie took place on October 26, 1972. No.315 Squadron was the first Klu unit to receive the NF-5 when it took K-4002, K-4004, K-4005 and K-4006 on charge following their protracted delivery on February 19, 1969. The first NF-5A deliveries did not commence until April 1970.
When being replaced by the F-16 in the 1980s, NF-5As and NF-5Bs were sold to Greece, Turkey and Venezuela, a number were preserved in the Netherlands, while one aircraft made it to a civil owner, the United States Aviation Museum Inc. at Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. Initially registered as N3206Y, it has since been reregistered as N8910.