There have been countless discussions over which is the better fighter jet— the U.S.-made Northrop F-5E Tiger II or the Soviet MiG-21 Fishbed.

That can be a hard argument to settle. The Iran-Iraq war was probably a draw for the two types.

More than 15,000 of these two cheap, lightweight, simple-to-maintain and -operate fighters were produced and, over the time, they’ve served in more than 60 different air forces — some of which operated both of them.

The usual story is that they never met in combat and thus the ultimate question about their mutual superiority remains unanswered. But actually, they did clash — and not only once.

Their first air battles — fought in the course of the long-forgotten conflict over the Horn of Africa in summer 1977 — ended with a rather one-sided victory for F-5Es of the Ethiopian Air Force. These shot down nine MiG-21s — not to mention two MiG-17s — of the Somali Air Force while suffering zero losses in air combat.

Read More- War is Boring

Image courtesy of War is Boring (An Iranian F-5E. Tom Cooper Collection photo)

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