F-20 Tigershark, Northrop

F-20 Tigershark

The previous name of this fighter was F-5G, indicating that it was a single-engined development of the F-5. The F-20 had 80% more engine power, modern avionics, and an enlarged wing. It was a capable aircraft but found no customer, because the USAF preferred to stick with the F-16. It was also offered to the USN in the "aggressor" role, but was again rejected in favour of the F-16. Without home market there was little hope for export orders. Three built.

Type: F-20
Country: USA
Function: fighter
Year: 1982
Crew: 1
Engines: 1 * 7711 kg G.E. F404-GE-100
Wing Span: 8.13 m
Length: 14.17 m
Height: 4.22 m
Wing Area: 17.28 m2
Empty Weight: 5089 kg
Max.Weight: 12475 kg
Max. Speed: 2124 km/h
Max. Range: 2965 km
Armament: 2*g 20 mm 3175 kg

Northrop developed the F-20 Tigershark in response to a U.S. Government call for the private development of a tactical fighter specifically tailored to meet the security needs of allied and friendly nations.

The first flight of the Tigershark was made August 30, 1982. The Mach 2 class F-20 Tigershark's basic single-seat configuration was formally designated the F-20A. The F-20 combined propulsion, electronics and armament technologies with improvements in reliability to sustain high sortie rates in adverse weather.

The F-20 incorporated a combination of advanced technology features. The F-20 could carry more than 8,300 pounds of external armaments and fuel on five pylons. It could carry six Sidewinder missiles on air-to-air missions. For air-to-ground missions, more than 6,800 pounds of armament could be carried. Two internally mounted 20mm guns were standard equipment on the Tigershark. The avionics system features a General Electric multimode radar, Honeywell laser inertial navigation system, General Electric head-up display, Bendix digital display and control set and Teledyne Systems mission computer.

The F-20 is powered by a General Electric F404 engine, with 17,000 pounds of thrust. The F404 is recognized as one of the world's most reliable advanced technology engines. It is also used to power the U.S. Navy/Marine Corps F/A-18A Hornet strike fighter.

Once airborne, the F-20 pilot utilized his multimode radar, which could detect and track targets at ranges of up to 48 nautical miles "look up" and 31 nautical miles "look down." The F-20 mission computer coordinated the aircraft's weapons systems. The head-up display placed critical weapons, target and flight data at the pilot's eye level. This allowed him to fight without having to look down. Northrop designed a new panoramic canopy for the F-20 that gave the pilot a 50 percent increase in rearward visibility over previous Northrop fighters. An improved seat and headrest design combined to substantially expand over-the-shoulder visibility, which is critical in air-to-air combat.

Aerodynamic features of the F-20 included an enlarged leading edge extension to the wing, which generated up to 30 percent of the lift manoeuvres. The "shark-shaped" nose allowed the F-20 to manoeuvre at much higher angles of attack than current operational fighters. The F-20 airframe could withstand 9 G's.

The F-20 was reliable and easy to maintain. Based on comparisons with the average of contemporary international fighters, the F-20 consumed 53 percent less fuel, required 52 percent less maintenance manpower, had 63 percent lower operating and maintenance costs and had four times the reliability.

Text from: Military Analyses Network at FAS.org

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