Upgraded F-5 Flies with Garmin G3000

 - April 25, 2019, 11:25 AM
A Tactical Air Support F-5AT undertakes a recent test flight from the company's main base at Reno-Stead. (Photo: Tactical Air Support)

A Northrop F-5E Tiger II has recently made its first flight after being upgraded with the Garmin G3000 integrated flight deck, complete with dual Garmin touchscreen controllers (GTCs), Garmin International revealed. The aircraft is one of the fleet operated by Tactical Air Support, which undertook the modernization work. The G3000 has been employed in the Textron Scorpion and Diamond DART-550, but the F-5 is the first supersonic fighter application.

“The maiden flight of the G3000-equipped F-5 is a significant achievement as it is a testament to the rapid implementation time and flexibility afforded by a Garmin integrated flight deck,” said Carl Wolf, Garmin vice president of aviation sales and marketing. “In just under six months, Tactical Air was able to complete the engineering design, installation, and achieve first flight.”

Ken Hamm, Tactical Air’s chief test pilot, reported, “The first flight of the F-5 was flawless and achieved the main objective of verifying the Pilot Vehicle Interface (PVI) of aircraft systems, displays, controls, and the new Caution/Advisory System (CAS). The PVI and CAS, when combined with the G3000, results in a more capable fighter aircraft.” He added, “As a career test pilot with over 7,000 flight hours, I have flown aircraft from the simplest to the space shuttle. Without a doubt, I can say the F-5 cockpit is one of the most capable and flexible of all.”

The aircraft is expected to begin flying adversary training missions for the U.S. Navy in the second quarter of 2019, and the remainder of the Tactical Air fleet is due to be similarly upgraded. The use of the Garmin commercial-off-the-shelf solution reduces development time and lifecycle/operational costs, while providing the F-5 with capabilities similar to those of current fighter aircraft and enabling future upgrades to be undertaken easily.

Garmin’s G3000 integrated flight deck features a high-resolution flight display that is seamlessly interfaced with the existing mission computer. It enables advanced mapping, radar, and tactical communications capabilities. The pilot interface comprises bezel keys, the GTCs, and an L3 ForceX mission system. The infrared-based touchscreens are adapted for use with gloves, and the cockpit is compatible with the use of night vision goggles.

Garmin's Synthetic Vision Technology blends an out-the-window view of the surrounding area on the primary flight display, mainly for nighttime use or when operating over mountainous terrain. Global CNS/ATM (communication, navigation, surveillance, and air traffic management) capability is provided, as is ADS-B In traffic and weather. A terrain awareness and warning system is incorporated.

Based at Reno-Stead airfield, Tactical Air Support bought 21 former Royal Jordanian Air Force F-5E/Fs in 2017, which it has upgraded with Nemesis radar and Argus radar warning receivers from Duotech, and a Mason HOTAS (hands on throttle and stick) system. Dubbed F-5AT (Advanced Tiger), the upgraded F-5 completed its FAA airworthiness certification program following Phase I modification in late April 2018, flying from Jacksonville in Florida. In December the company secured a five-year contract to provide adversary training to the U.S. Navy, primarily in support of the Naval Fighter Weapons School (“Topgun”) at NAS Fallon, Nevada. Tactical Air also operates the Canadair-built CF-5D, EMB-312 Tucano, and Siai-Marchetti SF.260.