Garmin Goes Supersonic


Here’s a case of an old, albeit fast dog learning new tricks: Garmin is celebrating the first flight of a G3000 integrated flight deck in an F-5 fighter. Garmin says that training firm Tactical Air Support finished the design and installation of the multi-panel suite over six months, giving the 1950s-era Northrop fighter the reliability and capabilities of modern avionics to go with its rakish good looks.

“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, 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. Through their hard work, dedication and our strong relationship together, we’re thrilled that they’re already in the air with the Garmin G3000 in this iconic aircraft. I am confident that the Tactical Air pilots will enjoy flying behind Garmin glass.”

Managed by Tactical Air, the F-5 will be used to “provide air-to-air combat training, close-air support training, tactics development and evaluation support. The upgraded F-5 used by Tactical Air will be used in an aggressor training role and the G3000 will transform the entire fleet of Tactical Air F-5s with sensor and system capabilities similar to current fighter aircraft.”

“The first flight of the F-5 was flawless and achieved the main objective of verifying 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,” said Ken Hamm, Tactical Air chief test pilot. “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.”

Garmin’s big push to get the G3000 into this role is cost. Compared to elderly systems aboard these legacy fighters, the off-the-shelf systems provide more capability at much lower cost. As expected, the F-5’s Garmin suite supports state-of-the-art synthetic vision (SVTTM) that blends an out-the-window view of surroundings on the primary flight display, terrain awareness, ADS-B traffic and weather, capabilities for communication, navigation, surveillance and air traffic management (CNS/ATM), and video interfaces.

First flown in 1959, the Northrop F-5 jams a prodigious amount of Jet-A through a pair of General Electric J85 turbojets on the way to a Mach 1.6 top speed.