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Aircraft descriptionThe Northrop F-20 Tigershark (initially F-5G) was a privately financed fighteraircraft, designed and built by Northrop in the USA, starting in 1975 and offeredfor sale starting in the 1980s and formally ending in the early 1990s.It began as a further evolution of Northrops F-5 Freedom Fighter/Tiger II,although ultimately it shared little more than a strong family resemblance to thataircraft.HistoryIt was originally designated F-5G, which was approved by the USAF in May 1981.The initial request for F-20 was initially turned down in 1982, the USAF proposing F-19 which ended up not being used at all. The USAF gave approval for F-20designation use in November 1982 and of the extra name Tigershark in March 1983.The main change was the replacement of the F-5s two General Electric J85 engineswith a single General Electric F404 turbofan, increasing its total thrust by 60%. Likethe F-5, however, it was designed as a low-cost, high-performance fighter plane thatwas easy to maintain. It could reach speeds of Mach 2.1 and had a ferry range of1,715 miles (2,760 km). The aircraft was armed with General Electric AN/APG-67radar that offered significant performance improvement over the original EmersonAN/APQ-159 radar of the original F-5E/F.The F-20 made its first flight on August 30, 1982, and a total of three prototypes werecreated. It was intended for sale to foreign countries and militaries, but the market forthe plane never developed, as President Ronald Reagan relaxed the restrictions onselling fighters such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon to other countries. Also, the fact thatthe United States government had not placed an order for the aircraft had a largeeffect on the decisions of other countries to buy the F-20 or not. The Pakistan AirForce was offered the F-20 and A-10 Thunderbolt II, but insisted on choosing the F-16 because it was felt that it would give them a technological advantage.After six years and no major buyers, Northrop cancelled the $1.2 billion project. Airforces that could afford the F-20 bought the F-16, while ones which could buy neither,purchased the cheaper F-5E/F Tiger II or the Russian MiG-21. While its performancewas comparable to the Block 1/5/10 F-16 and superior to the turbojet-powered export-variant F-16/79, the F-20 airframe had virtually no remaining expansion capability, asit was built on essentially a 20 year old airframe at the limits of its capabilities. The F-20s low-set wing and wing-mounted undercarriage also limited the size and number(four underwing hardpoints on the F-20 vs. six on the F-16) of underwing stores thatcould be used; whereas the F-16 would often be seen with very large stores. The F-16was a brand-new jet that had not even begun to approach its eventual capabilities.There was speculation within the F-20 development team that the US Air Forceinfluenced foreign militaries to buy the F-16, in order to make spare parts moreavailable.The last existing F-20 is on display at the California Science Center. The other two
prototypes were lost due to crashes during world sales tours. The crashes were causedby pilot error, and were not linked to any malfunction of the planes.Aerospace legend Chuck Yeager, who worked as a spokesperson for Northrop duringthe F-20s development, frequently touted the plane and was regularly featured in itsadvertising.General characteristics Crew: 1 pilot Length: 46 ft 6 in (14.2 m) Wingspan: 26 ft 8 in (8.1 m) Height: 13 ft 10 in (4.2 m) Wing area: 186 ft� (17 m � ) Empty weight: 11,220 lb (5,090 kg) Loaded weight: 15,060 lb (6,830 kg) Max takeoff weight: 26,290 lb (11,920 kg) Powerplant: 1 x General Electric F404-GE-100 turbofan, 17,000 lbf (76 kN)Performance Maximum speed: Mach 2.1 Combat radius: 300 nm (345 mi, 555 km) Ferry range: 1,490 nm (1,715 mi, 2,760 km) Service ceiling: 55,000 ft (16,800 m) Rate of climb: 50,030 ft/min (255 m/s) Wing loading: 81.0 lb/ft� (395 kg/m � ) Thrust/weight: 1.13Armament Guns: 2 x 20 mm (0.787 in) M39 cannon Hardpoints: 5 with a capacity of 8,000 lb (3,600 kg), Missiles: 2 x AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles