×
Aircraft / Aviation Vehicles & Artillery Infantry Arms Warships & Submarines Military Pay Scale Military Ranks
HOME
AIRCRAFT / AVIATION
MODERN AIR FORCES
COUNTRIES
MANUFACTURERS
COMPARE
BY CONFLICT
BY TYPE
BY DECADE
4TH GENERATION
COLD WAR
X-PLANE

Northrop F-20 Tigershark


Multi-Role Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Aircraft (1982)


Aviation / Aerospace

1 / 6
Image courtesy of the USAF Museum, Dayton, Ohio, USA.
2 / 6
Image courtesy of the USAF Museum, Dayton, Ohio, USA.
3 / 6
Image courtesy of the USAF Museum, Dayton, Ohio, USA.
4 / 6
Image courtesy of the USAF Museum, Dayton, Ohio, USA.
5 / 6
Image courtesy of the USAF Museum, Dayton, Ohio, USA.
6 / 6
Image courtesy of the USAF Museum, Dayton, Ohio, USA.

Jump-to: Specifications

Despite its impressive showing, the Northrop F-20 Tigershark was doomed by the arrival of the General Dynamics F-16 Fighter Falcon.



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 08/16/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
The Northrop F-20 Tigershark was a further evolution of the F-5 Tiger II line, specifically the F-5E model series. The F-20 emerged from a program in 1975 as part of a United States Air Force's (USAF) endeavor known as "FX". The aircraft was initially born as the "F-5G" of the Tiger II line and gradually evolved to become its own design. At its core, the F-20 was intended as a low-cost, export-friendly frontline performance fighter capable of meeting the latest in Soviet fighter threats - primarily the very capable Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 "Fishbed". The F-20 would have allowed the United States to sell its new aircraft to allied nations without exposing its advanced technologies to the enemy. However, the F-20 arrived at a time when the United States was welcoming a new administration and the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon had emerged as a similar low, cost, multi-role fighter alternative. In the end, the F-20 existed in three completed prototype forms and the line was never sold to any foreign party. The entire program was given up in 1986 while the F-16 became the Cold War-era light fighter stalwart the F-20 could have been.

The prototype F-20 first flew on August 30th, 1982 and named the "Tigershark" in 1983. Compared to the F-5 before it, the F-20 was given a single, all-new engine that offered better performance, a new radar system that allowed for the latest American air-to-air munitions to be used, ground-attack capabilities and modernized avionics. The F-20 was a greater performance thoroughbred than the preceding F-5 and looking to become a good gamble for Northrop Corporation, who took development of the F-20 on as a private venture at an end-project cost of $1.2 billion USD.

Internally, the F-20 pilot was given an all-modern cockpit with a very organized instrument panel, full-service HUD (Head-Up Display) and two large Multi-Function Displays (MFDs). Controls were of a Hands-On-Throttle And Stick (HOTAS) configuration allowing the pilot to keep both hands on critical control systems while the instrument panel lay within easy reach. Vision out of the cockpit was good, reminiscent of the F-5 series, save for views to the rear which were covered by the raised fuselage spine. The pilot sat under a single-piece canopy with a single-piece forward windscreen. An ejection seat was standard. The avionics suite included the General Electric AN/APG-67 series multi-mode, X-Band pulse Doppler radar. The system eventually fell under the Lockheed Martin brand label when General Electric sold off its radar section and found service with the modern Taiwanese Air Force AIDC F-CK-1 "Ching-Kuo" and South Korean KAI/Lockheed T-50 "Golden Eagle".

Outwardly, the F-20 mimicked the F-5 to a large degree. It held a sharp nose cone assembly housing a radar suite which allowed for engagement with missile armament "Beyond Visual Range" (BVR). The cockpit sat well aft of the nose though ahead of midships. The single engine installation was buried deep within the aft fuselage section while being aspirated through a pair of small rectangular intakes along the cockpit sides and exhausted through a single, large ring under the tail rudder. The empennage consisted of a single vertical tail fin and low-set horizontal planes. The main wing appendages were short protrusions with swept-back leading edges and straight trailing edges. The wings were clipped and designed to accepted Sidewinder short-ranged air-to-air missiles as standard. The undercarriage was conventional and wholly retractable consisting of a pair of main legs and a nose leg.
Of the three F-20s completed (a fourth was under construction), two were lost during flight testing which claimed the lives of their pilots. SN 82-0062 crashed at Suwon Air Base, South Korea on October 10th, 1984 while demonstrating the F-20's capabilities to the South Korean government. SN 82-0063 crashed at CFB Goose Bay in Canada on May 14th, 1985. The sole surviving F-20 prototype went on to see the rest of its days as a museum showpiece, suspended in the display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California.

As completed, the F-20 fielded a length of 47 feet, 4 inches with a wingspan of 28 feet and height of 13 feet, 10 inches. Empty weight was listed at 13,150lb with a maximum take-off weight of 27,500lb. Its power was derived from a single General Electric F404-GE-100 series turbofan engines which supplied the airframe with up to 17,000lb of thrust. Maximum speed was Mach 2+ with a combat radius reaching 345 miles. Ferry range was out to 1,715 miles. The aircraft could operated up to a service ceiling of 55,000 feet and sported a rate-of-climb of 52,800 feet per minute.

Armament-wise, the F-20 featured a standard fitting of 2 x 20mm Pontiac M39A2 internal cannons in the nose assembly. Each cannon was granted 280 projectiles each and were used for close-in combat or in ground attack strafing actions. The aircraft was given five hardpoints for up to 8,000lb of underslung ordnance across one fuselage centerline position and two underwing hardpoints at each wing appendage. There were also the wingtip hardpoints but these were reserved exclusively for the Sidewinder missile series.

As such, the F-20 could be outfitted with an air-to-air or air-to-ground munitions capability depending on operator requirements. The aircraft and its onboard systems supported AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles as well as the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missile, the latter a proven weapon for defeating ground targets including tanks. A typical bomb dropping quality was also inherent with support for unguided munitions such as the Mark 80 bomb series. Additional support was given for use of CBU-type cluster bomb weapons and practice ordnance. Beyond missiles and bombs, the F-20 was also cleared to fire several types of rocket pods for air-to-ground sorties.

The Tigershark was eventually marketed to a variety of potential suitors including the USAF and United States Navy (USN). The USN sought a new aggressor aircraft for its dogfighting training program - TOP GUN - specifically an aircraft that could mimic the capabilities of Soviet fighters of the day for new generations of Western fighter pilots. As with others, the USN elected to settle on the excellent F-16 line. The USAF elected not to purchase the F-20 whatsoever - which effectively doomed the line for further development and acceptance in the world market - many saw the lack of USAF endorsement of the Northrop aircraft as an indictment on its value. Morocco was originally in line with a 20-strong order for F-20s but this was cancelled as was a smaller order from Bahrain.

Specifications



Service Year
1982

Origin
United States national flag graphic
United States

Status
CANCELLED
Development Ended.
Crew
1

Production
3
UNITS


Northrop Corporation - USA
National flag of Bahrain National flag of Morocco National flag of the United States Bahrain (cancelled); Morocco (cancelled); United States
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.


Length
46.6 ft
(14.20 m)
Width/Span
26.6 ft
(8.10 m)
Height
13.8 ft
(4.20 m)
Empty Wgt
11,222 lb
(5,090 kg)
MTOW
26,279 lb
(11,920 kg)
Wgt Diff
+15,058 lb
(+6,830 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Northrop F-20 Tigershark production variant)
Installed: 1 x General Electric F404-GE-100 afterburning turbofan engine developing 17,000lb thrust with reheat.
Max Speed
1,500 mph
(2,414 kph | 1,303 kts)
Ceiling
55,118 ft
(16,800 m | 10 mi)
Range
1,715 mi
(2,760 km | 5,112 nm)
Rate-of-Climb
50,030 ft/min
(15,249 m/min)


♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030


(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the base Northrop F-20 Tigershark production variant. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database. View aircraft by powerplant type)
STANDARD:
2 x 20mm Pontiac M39A2 internal cannons in nose
2 x AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles (wingtip mounts).

OPTIONAL:
Up to 9,000lb of external stores supporting:

2 x CRV7 rocket pods
2 x LAU-10 127mm rocket pods
2 x Matra SNEB 68mm rocket pods
2 x AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missiles
2 x 30mm gun pods
2 x AIM-7 Sparrow medium-range air-to-air missiles
Mk 82 iron bombs
CBU-24 cluster bombs
CBU-49 cluster bombs
CBU-52 cluster bombs
CBU-58 cluster bombs
Fuel Droptanks as needed


Supported Types


Graphical image of an aircraft automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft machine gun pod
Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of a medium-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of an aircraft air-to-surface missile
Graphical image of aircraft aerial rockets
Graphical image of an aircraft rocket pod
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Graphical image of an aircraft external fuel tank


(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 5 (including wingtip mounts)


F-5E "Tiger II": - Base model on which the F-20 was developed from.
F-20 "Tigershark" - Base Series Designation based on F-5E Tiger II model and marketed as an "improved" Tiger II with single-engine installation, new avionics, multi-role capabilities and better performance.
F-5G - Original F-20 model designation


Cockpit image of the Northrop F-20 Tigershark
(Cockpit image represents the Northrop F-20 Tigershark production model)


Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft


Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.

Advertisements





Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies


2022 Military Pay Scale Army Ranks Navy Ranks Air Force Ranks Alphabet Code DoD Dictionary American War Deaths French Military Victories Vietnam War Casualties

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com.

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org, the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft, and SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane.


Facebook Logo YouTube Logo

www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-