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In the 1950's the United States was concerned for the defense of our allies in Europe and Asia. The original F-5A Freedom Fighter was developed from the Northrop N-156, winner of the FX competition encouraged by the Kennedy administration. In 1962 the F-5A was chosen as the economical supersonic export fighter for the United States allies Mutual Assistance Program (MAP). At an affordable two million dollars the world-class aircraft was a huge success and used by more than 13 operators besides the U.S. The USAF also acquired the trainer version the T-38 Talon to replace the T-33 Shooting Star.
The establishment of NATO and SEATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization and South East Asia Treaty Organization) created an alliance based on mutual defense of its members if under attack from an external source. These treaties led to a more standardized approach to terms, procedures, and expertise, often resulting in the adoption of U.S. practices.
In 1970 Northrop again won the International Fighter Aircraft (IFA) competition with the redesigned F-5E renamed the Tiger II. The Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) Taiwan built 308 F5-E's under license by the AIDC (Aerospace Industrial Development Corp).
The F-5 was used as the aggressor aircraft in TOPGUN (Naval Fighter Weapons School) and Top Gun the movie due to its similar size and characteristics to the Mig. The F-5 was also used in the movies Apocalypse Now and Hot Shots.