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F-20 Tigershark
An F-20 Tigershark flying near Edwards Air Force Base, California. Photo courtesy of Northrop.
...a responsive, low-cost fighter that was designed by Northrop but was never sold or mass-produced. The Science Center's F-20 is the last remaining prototype.

Wingspan: 8.5 meters (28 feet)
Height: 4.2 meters (13 feet 10 inches)
Length: 14.4 meters (47 feet 4 inches)
Maximum speed: Mach 2
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: 1.12
Ferry range: 1,880 nautical miles

An advertisement for the F-20, courtesy of Northrop. Click on the image above for a larger image in PDF format.

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.

According 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.

The Science Center's F-20
The F-20 in the gallery

The 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.

F-20 Links
F-20 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.

F-20 Tigershark
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.

Northrop F-20 "Tigershark"
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.

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