Wingspan: 8.5 meters
Height: 4.2 meters
(13 feet 10 inches)
Length: 14.4 meters
(47 feet 4 inches)
Maximum speed: Mach
Sea level climbing speed:
16,154 meters/minute (53,000 feet/minute)
Takeoff distance: 450
meters (1,475 feet)
Takeoff distance, maximum weight:
1,128 meters (3,700 feet)
Takeoff weight: 8,410
kilograms (18,540 pounds)
Maximum weight: 12,700
kilograms (28,000 pounds)
Combat thrust-to-weight ratio:
Ferry range: 1,880
advertisement for the F-20, courtesy of Northrop.
Click on the image above for a larger image in PDF
In 1975, Northrop began development
on the F-20 Tigershark, a fighter plane designed to be
reliable, easy to fly and inexpensive to maintain. Northrop
didn't accept any funds from the government to develop
the plane, so the company didn't have to consult the Air
Force or any other government agency to make design decisions.
As a result, the development process went fairly quickly.
Northrop built three planes to take around the world to
fly in demonstrations for potential customers.
to many pilots, the Tigershark was an excellent plane.
It could be ready for combat just one minute after takeoff,
and it could climb 53,800 feet per minute. Northrop planned
to sell the plane to foreign countries for use in their
militaries. However, as a result of many political changes
as well as competition from other aircraft such as the
F-16, the market for the plane never developed.
Science Center's F-20
F-20 in the gallery
F-20 Tigershark prototype on display at the Science Center
is the last one in existence. The other two F-20 prototypes
crashed during world sales tours, but aircraft malfunction
was not determined to be the cause of either crash. The
Science Center's Tigershark was donated to the Science
Center by the Northrop Corporation.
Tigershark Home Page
Examine a detailed timeline of F-20 events and a crash
report, as well as specs on the Tigershark's handling
capabilities, radar, engine and more. This page also features
an F-20 photo gallery.
This page from the Federation of American Scientists'
Military Analysis Network features sketches of the F-20
test-flight paths and a great cutaway illustration that
shows many of the F-20's special components and armaments.
The U.S. Air Force Museum offers a brief analysis of the
Tigershark's lack of success in foreign markets on this
page, which also includes a photo gallery.