If you Google “Mexican fighter squadron” or “Mexican f5e” you will come across several news reports reporting the demise of the Mexican fighter squadron. The reports argue that the Mexican Air Force retired its fleet of air superiority Northrup F5e Tiger IIs in 2016. Yet, there were two F5 fighters that performed a flyby in the recently concluded FAMEX aerospace fair. Last year, two F5 fighters also made an appearance in September.
Therefore, the question is has the Mexican Air Force retired the Northrup F5?
The answer is no as at least two F5s remain operational.
Adding further to that answer is the recent revelation that the first female Mexican fighter pilot was identified recently. She is Lieutenant Karen Vanesa Velázquez Ruíz. She has been officially added to the roster of Escuadrón Aéreo 401 composed of Northrup F5e and F5f fighters. The lieutenant’s membership in the fighter squadron was confirmed by the Mexican Air Force on February 10th.
Mexican Air Force Day is February 10.
But the question remains, how many of the original Northrup F5 Tiger IIs are still operational.
Adding to the intrigue about the capability of México’s air sovereignty mission is what is the plan to upgrade the air superiority mission now that Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has taken México away from an externally engaged foreign policy agenda back to the traditional inward looking political agenda. AMLO has dictated the sale of several Mexican government and air force aircraft.
As best as I can tell from photographic evidence, there are three, possibly two F5s that remain operational. They are two F5f dual-seat fighters bearing serial numbers 4501 and 4502 and one single seat F5e bearing serial number 4508.
The original 1982 allocation of fighters were ten single-seat F5e Tiger IIs and two F5f twin-seat fighters.
There have been several reports that suggest that the Mexican F5 fleet has been kept operational well past their operational time frames by limiting their time in the air, extensive maintenance and cannibalizing other F5 aircraft.
Will AMLO allow the Mexican Air Force to look to bolster its air superiority fleet remains an open question.