The Grumman F9F Panther was the manufacturer's first jet fighter and one of the U.S. Navy's first successful carrier-based jet fighters. The Panther was the most widely used U.S. Navy jet fighter of the Korean War, flying 78,000 sorties and scoring the first air-to-air kill by the US Navy in the war, the downing of a North Korean Yakovlev Yak-9 fighter. Total F9F production was 1,382, with several variants being exported to Argentina.
F9F-2s, F9F-3s and F9F-5s served with distinction in the Korean War, mainly as attack aircraft, showing noticeable resistance to anti-aircraft fire; despite their relative slow speed, they also managed in downing two Yak-9s and five Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15s with a loss of only one F9F. On 3 July 1950, Lieutenant, junior grade Leonard H. Plog of U.S. Navy's VF-51 flying an F9F-3 scored the first air victory of the war by shooting down a Yak-9. The first MiG-15 downed was on 9 November 1950 by U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander William (Bill) Amen of VF-111 "Sundowners" Squadron flying an F9F-2B. Two more were downed on 18 November 1950, and the other two were downed on the 18 November 1952. The type was the primary Navy and USMC jet fighter and ground-attack aircraft in the Korean War. Astronaut Neil Armstrong flew the F9F extensively during the war, even ejecting from one of the aircraft when it was brought down by a wire strung across a valley. Future astronaut John Glenn and Boston Red Sox All Star Ted Williams as Marine Corps pilots, also flew the F9F.
Panthers were withdrawn from front-line service in 1956, but remained in training roles and with Naval Air Reserve and Marine Air Reserve units until 1958, some continuing to serve in small numbers into the 1960s.