The pilot ejected safely from the F-5N Tiger II operated by Fighter Squadron Composite 111 at Naval Air Station Key West.

The pilot of a US Navy F-5N Tiger II fighter jet has been rescued after ejecting from his plane off Key West, Florida, yesterday morning. An initial statement from the Navy indicates that the pilot ejected about 25 miles from Boca Chica Field around 9:20 in the morning.

An MH-60S Seahawk search and rescue helicopter assigned to Key West rescued the pilot from the water. The helicopter transferred the pilot to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami for further evaluation, as can be seen in the following video:

The Navy has not yet provided the identity of the pilot or his current status, but it has confirmed that he belonged to Composite Fighter Squadron 111 (VFC-111), known as the “Sun Downers,” a squadron of aggressors from the Navy Reserve. US Navy based at Naval Air Station Key West.

These adversary aircraft are primarily used to simulate low to medium-level threats during dissimilar air combat training. In addition to VFC-111, these fighters also serve with the VFA-204 “River Rattlers,” based at Joint Reserve Base Naval Air Station New Orleans, Louisiana, another specialized red air Naval Reserve unit. Meanwhile, Marine Corps examples are operated by Marine Fighter Training Squadron 401 (VMFT-401) at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona.

An F-5N of the 401st Marine Fighter Training Squadron.
An F-5N of the 401st Marine Fighter Training Squadron.

The F-5Ns are being upgraded to make them similar to private contractor Tactical Air’s F-5AT configuration, which includes substantial improvements. The Navy has stated that the cause of the accident will be investigated.

Thomas Newdick