Martin-Baker Installs First U.S. Navy Northrop F-5 Seat Upgrade Program

British manufacturer of ejection seats, Martin-Baker successfully installed the first US16J ejection seat as the U.S. Navy Northrop F-5 seat upgrade program begins at Naval Air Station Fallon. There are over 2,950 Martin-Baker seats in service today in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. With this seat upgrade program along with continued seat deliveries for F-35 Lightning II, T-6 Texan II, and F/A-18 Super Hornet, this number will increase to over 3,000 seats in service in 2020. Martin-Baker has saved 2,238 USN and USMC lives to date.

The U.S. Navy F-5 fleet continues to be modernized with 36 low-hour F-5E/Fs purchased from Switzerland in 2006. These were updated as F-5N/Fs with modernized avionics and other improved systems. Currently, the only U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps units flying the F-5 are VFC-13 at NAS Fallon, Nevada, VFC-111 at NAS Key West, Florida, and VMFT-401 at MCAS Yuma, Arizona. Currently, VFC-111 operates 18 Northrop F-5N/F Tiger IIs. 17 of these are single-seater F-5Ns and the last is a twin-seater F-5F “FrankenTiger”, the product of grafting the older front-half fuselage of an F-5F into the back-half fuselage of a newer low-hours F-5E acquired from the Swiss Air Force. A total of three “FrankenTigers” were made.

A U.S. Navy Northrop F-5N Tiger II (BuNo 761560, USAF s/n 76-1560, former Swiss J-3035) assigned to Fighter Squadron Composite (VFC) 111 "Sundowners" launches from Boca Chica Field of Naval Air Station Key West, Florida (USA).
A U.S. Navy Northrop F-5N Tiger II (BuNo 761560, USAF s/n 76-1560, former Swiss J-3035) assigned to Fighter Squadron Composite (VFC) 111 “Sundowners” launches from Boca Chica Field of Naval Air Station Key West, Florida (USA).

Martin-Baker Aircraft Co. Ltd. is a British manufacturer of ejection seats and safety-related equipment for aviation. The company’s origins were originally as an aircraft manufacturer before becoming a pioneer in the field of ejection seats. The company’s headquarters are in Higher Denham, Buckinghamshire, England with other sites in France, Italy and the United States.

Martin-Baker supplies ejection seats for 93 air forces worldwide. Martin-Baker seats have been fitted into over 200 fixed-wing and rotary types with the most recent being the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II programme. Martin-Baker claimed in 2016 that since the first live ejection test in 1945, a total of 7,613 lives have been saved by the company’s ejection seats.

The Martin-Baker team are pictured here at NAS Fallon during the seat installation on the 5th December 2019.
The Martin-Baker team are pictured here at NAS Fallon during the seat installation on the 5th December 2019.

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