The Northrop F-5A and F-5B Freedom Fighter and the F-5E and F-5F Tiger II are part of a supersonic light fighter family, initially designed in the late 1950s by Northrop Corporation. Being smaller and simpler than contemporaries such as the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, the F-5 cost less to both procure and operate, making it a popular export aircraft. The F-5 started life as a privately funded light fighter program by Northrop in the 1950s. The design team wrapped a small, highly aerodynamic fighter around two compact and high-thrust General Electric J85 engines, focusing on performance and low cost of maintenance. Though primarily designed for the day air superiority role, the aircraft is also a capable ground-attack platform. The F-5A entered service in the early 1960s. During the Cold War, over 800 were produced through 1972 for U.S. allies. Though the USAF had no acknowledged need for a light fighter, it did procure roughly 1,200 Northrop T-38 Talon trainer aircraft, which were directly based on the F-5A.

After winning the International Fighter Aircraft competition in 1970, a program aimed at providing effective low-cost fighters to American allies, Northrop introduced the second-generation F-5E Tiger II in 1972. This upgrade included more powerful engines, higher fuel capacity, greater wing area and improved leading edge extensions for a better turn rate, optional air-to-air refueling, and improved avionics including air-to-air radar. Primarily used by American allies, it remains in US service to support training exercises. It has served in a wide array of roles, being able to perform both air and ground attack duties; the type was used extensively in Vietnam. A total of 1,400 Tiger IIs were built before production ended in 1987. More than 3,800 F-5 and the closely related T-38 advanced trainer aircraft were produced in Hawthorne, CA. The F-5N/F variants are in service with the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps as an adversary trainer. Approximately 500 aircraft are in service as of 2014.

The Canadair CF-5 (officially designated the CF-116 Freedom Fighter) is the Canadair licensed-built version of the American Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter aircraft primarily for the Canadian Forces (as the CF-5) and the Royal Netherlands Air Force (as the NF-5). The CF-5 was upgraded periodically throughout its service career in Canada. The Canadian Forces retired the type in 1995, although CF-5s continue to be used by other countries.

Below is a partial list of surviving airframes.

59-4987  (D-16)
59-4988  (P-16)
59-4989  (D-16)
63-8371  (D-16)
63-8393  (D-16)
63-8405  (D-16)
63-8438  (D-16)
63-8441  (S-16)
64-13326  (D-16)
66-9159  (D-16)
66-9170  (D-15)
66-9207  (D-16)
66-9220  (D-16)
67-14905  (?-16)
68-9071  (D-16)
68-9085  (?-95)
69-7101  (?-08)
69-7134  (D-16)
69-7156  (D-11)
69-7170  (D-16)
72-1387  (D-16)
72-0441  (D-16)
73-0852  (D-16)
73-0878  (D-15)
74-0776  (D-16)
74-0966  (D-09)
74-0978  (D-16)
  74-0980  (D-16)
74-0982  (D-16)
74-0985  (D-16)
74-0994  (D-08)
74-0995  (D-15)
74-0997  (D-16)
74-1533  (D-16)
74-1537  (D-16)
74-1556  (D-16)
74-1558  (D-16)
74-1564  (D-16)
75-0318  (D-16)
75-0322  (?-16)
75-0330  (D-16)
75-0355  (D-16)
75-0358  (D-16)
75-0368  (D-16)
76-0485  (D-16)
76-0490  (D-16)
76-1618  (D-16)
76-1624  (D-16)
76-1625  (D-16)
76-1636  (D-16)
76-1638  (D-11)
77-0334  (D-16)
77-0339  (D-16)
  77-0343  (D-16)
80-0304  (D-16)
83-0127  (D-16)
AR9-053  (D-11)
116704  (D-16)
116707  (D-16)
116748  (D-16)
116757  (D-16)
116763  (D-16)
116818  (?-16)
116820  (A-16)
116821  (A-16)
116823  (?-16)
116824  (?-16)
116831  (?-16)
116832  (D-07)
116833  (D-16)
116835  (?-16)
116836  (?-16)
116837  (?-16)
116839  (D-16)
116840  (?-16)
116841  (?-16)
116845  (?-16)
116846  (?-16)