The Canadair CF-5 (officially designated "CF-116 Freedom Fighter") is the Canadair license-built version of the American Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter aircraft for the Canadian Forces. It is a twin-engine, single-seat multi-role combat aircraft. The CF-5 was upgraded periodically throughout its service career in Canada. The Canadian Forces retired the type in 1995, although CF-5s continued to be used by other countries into the early 21st century.
The CF-5 was ordered by the Royal Canadian Air Force, which became part of the Canadian Forces on 1 February 1968. The new unified force took delivery of the first CF-5s (it was almost universally referred to as the CF-5 except in official documentation) at the end of 1968. Total production by Canadair for Canadian Forces was 89 single-seat aircraft and 46 dual-seat aircraft.
The CF-116 Freedom Fighter is a relatively inexpensive air superiority fighter available to Canadian and NATO decks. The CF-116 carries six AIM-9J Sidewinder missiles, and two 20mm Pontiac M39A2 cannons, making the type an ideal helicopter hunter. The major drawbacks of the CF-116 are its lack of a long-range missile compliment, and lack of ECM. Both of these factors make the CF-116 vulnerable to enemy fighters, or Integrated Air Defense Systems (IADS). At a cost of 70 points per aircraft, however, the CF-116's offensive capabilities against either helicopters or enemy strike platforms largely offset its drawbacks.
The CF-116 in Wargame: Red Dragon is a ground attack aircraft, carrying three Mk. 83 500kg bombs and a pair of 20mm Pontiac M39A2 cannons. The Mk. 83 bombs provide the CF-116 with good striking capability, and can damage or destroy infantry, and lightly or moderately armored vehicles. The CF-116's powerful strike ability for its inexpensive cost (70 points per plane) is offset by its lack of ECM, lack of missiles for close-range defense, and relatively slow speed compared to other strike platforms (750km/h). A fighter escort is highly recommended to cover the CF-116, and destroying enemy IADS prior to striking with this aircraft is paramount to success.