Pssst, Hey Buddy, You Wanna Buy a F-5B?

Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

The Feds have arrested 35-year-old Californian, Marc Knapp, for trying to sell an F-5B fighter jet to Iran. Knapp was nabbed in a government sting operation that crisscrossed the country from Pennsylvania to California and even ranged to Budapest, Hungary. For his part, Knapp was unconcerned that the nation that once promised “Death to America,” and  is reputedly looking for a nuclear weapons capability might acquire an  US-made fighter jet.

Knapp also bragged to US agents that he had procured lots of military spare parts for other countries like survival manuals, anti-gravity suits, survival radios, and even an F-14 pilot ejection seat — everything for your basic Islamic terrorist on the go. “Homeland Security Investigations will continue to pursue those who are willing to put America’s national security at risk,” John P. Kelleghan, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a news release.

Knapp faces 40 years in prison and $2 million in fines. That’ll do — for starters.

“When we hang the capitalists they will sell us the rope we use”  — maybe Stalin was on to something.

Source: CNN

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

28 thoughts on “Pssst, Hey Buddy, You Wanna Buy a F-5B?”

  1. OS:

    Thanks and the info you provide is utterly amazing. Maybe I need a new business card: “Have Fighter Jet-Will Travel.”

  2. mespo:
    Actually not that hard to fly one across the country. Just file a flight plan and go. He would have to stay subsonic, because the FAA frowns on sonic booms that rattles the taxpayer’s fine china. Since the plane is decommissioned and certified as “Experimental” it is a fully legal airplane as long as it has an airworthiness certificate. You can buy a fighter plane on the open market. If you take a look at Trade-A-Plane, you will be surprised at what you can buy. In the current issue, you will discover you can buy a Dassault Falcon, MIG-21, F-5 and A-4 Skyhawk. John McCain was flying an A-4 when he was shot down.

    BTW, this is s “short legged” plane with a maximum ferry range of about 2,000 statute miles. And that is with the biggest external fuel tanks you can hang on the wings and still get it off the ground.

  3. OS:

    My favorite part of this scheme was Knapp’s intention to fly the F-5B from California to the East Coast and then to crate it for shipment. How could anyone fly a fighter plane 3000 miles over US airspace in the post-9/11 era without all manner of permits and permissions?

  4. 🙂 Isn’t this what the current clamor about privatization and the free market is all about? Why should the government be the only seller of weapons to foreign nations? This guy is just a small businessman trying to make a living in the face of government over-regulation and monopoly.

  5. After thinking about my comments, some might get the impression this little fighter plane is some kind of dud or creaky antique. It is not. Like the muzzle loading pistols in my analogy, the F-5 is still a potentially vicious and deadly weapon, even though it is obsolescent. The F-5 remains a useful weapon in the arsenal of a regional power. However, it would stand very little chance (make that no chance) in a face off against the newer generation of fighters in both NATO and Russian arsenals.

  6. Berliner,

    Thank you … you are a scholar and a gentleman or woman … the picture is clearer now.

  7. Where else but this blog could you post an obscure story about an illegal F-5B sale, and get such a wealth of accurate information from around the world in about an hour. Remarkable!

  8. Blouise, maybe the Iranians weren’t so much interested in the F-5, but in exploring what else he could sell.

    There is some speculation on how much of the spare parts for their F-14s the Iranians can produce. If he could give them the parts they can not make (assuming there are such parts), it would be a big deal for them.

    It is of course possible that they wanted the F-5 for spare parts for their still operating F-5E fleet.
    The F-5E is a good enough workhorse for local conflicts where the opposition (irregulars, insurgents, Afghanistan) has no serious air force or AA capability. Remember that Iran is a regional power.

  9. I have one question.

    How does one fit a fighter jet under a trench coat?

    Reminds me of the old Far Side cartoon.

    “Hey, buddy…. You wanna buy a hoofed mammal?”

  10. OS:

    Given your research, looks like we have a Walter Mitty-like criminal with the Feds trying to make a big splash arrest.

  11. Mespo:
    The Northrop F-5 last saw service with the USAF until 1990, where their last tour of duty was to take the role of “aggressor” opposition fighters used in training fighter pilots. The Navy bought three dozen from Switzerland in 2006. These planes were modernized with up to date avionics and other equipment. The Navy gave them the designation F-5N/F and they are still in use.

    If you Google “F-5 jet for sale” you can find several on the market. Iran makes a clone of this aircraft which they have designated “Saeqeh,” which means “Thunderbolt” in their language.

    I just did a quick search and found an airworthy MIG-21 for sale for $89,000. It is in Illinois. Another seller has ten of them for sale. I also found some F-5 fighters, but no price was listed on them. Here is one seller:

    Long story short, it is stupid to try an circumvent the moratorium. Especially when it would be the equivalent of trying to sell muzzle loading pistols to Mexican drug kingpins.

  12. If what OS writes is true, and I have no reason to doubt his knowledge … why in the hell would Iran need Mr. Knapp? Somebody please explain this to me.

  13. Iran sold their arsenal of F-5Bs when they got F-5Es in the 1970 (back when they were a “US-backed dictatorship”).

    Why would they (re-)buy them in 1010? Nostalgic value?

  14. Where do you stash a jet fighter so the Feds can’t find it? I hope this guy never leaves prison. Anyone who would sell out his country does not deserve to be a free man.

  15. OS:

    The picture I provided shows the F-5B from the Vietnam era. Any updates on that model that you know about. Hard to believe they want 1950’s technology.

  16. The good news is this plane is a derivative of the T-38 Talon trainer. Simply put, they took the T-38, put some weapons on it and voilà, you have the F-5. It is supersonic, but is 1950s technology. Hardly a formidable weapon and some are available on the civilian market for the adventurous. For that matter, you can purchase the much more formidable MIG-21 for less than a hundred thousand, and the seller will probably throw in a spare engine.

  17. And exactly how did Mr. Knapp get his chubby little hands on all this stuff? I suspect he’ll be taking a lot of “friends” with him to his new home.

  18. Keep those war drums going.

    Iran has nothing to do with the national security of the United States. However, it does stand in the way of the US design for energy control in the region. That’s more than enough justification for our peace prize winner to go to war, I have no doubt.

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