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Northrop F-5G / F-20 Tigershark

F-14D

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Pioneer said:
Nice pics thanks BillRo
I haven't seen the F-20 configured with a Harpoon missile before! There's really nothing this baby couldn't do! :eek:
It looks as if the second pic you've posted, shows the carrying and test firing of the GPU-5_A gun pod (equipped with a single 30mm 4 x barrel GAU-13_A rotary cannon) - nice!!

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Pioneer
That was partly done because Northrop proposed the F-20 for CAS-X. GD said the Tigershark would not be able to carry a 30mm weapon, so Northrop went out and showed that it could. The results were much the same that others found with the GPU-5, that it was a pretty inaccurate weapon.
 

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If anyone wants to see the F-20 doing its firing of the AGM-65, no need to look further than the beginning of the 1984 Jeff Bridges movie, Starman. As the producers used Northrop footage of it in the scene of shooting down the UFO :)

Cheers
 

RAP

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More photos of the F-20. I found the first picture interesting because I don't recall ever seeing the extended pitot tube on it before.
 

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Triton

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In case the Federation of American Scientists page disappears or goes to a fee-based model.

Source:
http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/man/uswpns/air/fighter/f20.html
 

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blackstar

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Thanks for these. I've seen the remaining F-20 on display in the Los Angeles Science Museum and I think that it's a shame they didn't paint it in the hot-rod red scheme. That's such a photogenic color scheme.
 

Stargazer2006

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RAP, these photos are just awesome. Thank you so much for sharing them!

blackstar: I agree, the red and white scheme was fabulous, although the all-gray livery suited her just fine too!
 

Triton

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Source:
http://novandirezeki.blogspot.com/2013/02/pesawat-tempur-modern.html
http://www.cybermodeler.com/aircraft/f-20/tigergphoto.shtml
 

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Source:
http://www.cybermodeler.com/aircraft/f-20/tigergphoto.shtml
 

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Triton

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Source:
http://www.cybermodeler.com/aircraft/f-20/tigergphoto.shtml
http://www.aircraftinformation.info/gallery_fighters_cancelled.htm
 

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Triton

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Source:
http://www.f-16.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=13585
http://www.fotosmilitares.org/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=708&start=15
 

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Triton

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Source:
http://www.aereo.jor.br/2010/08/15/f-20-multiplicador-de-forca/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/psgrayson/3991111184/
http://sobchak.wordpress.com/tag/northrop-f-5g-tigershark/
http://www.fightercontrol.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=18&p=486394
 

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Stargazer2006

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Splendid collection of images!

Upon seeing this beauty from all angles and in all types of backgrounds, one can only feel even more regret that the type didn't see production. It was arguably the best lightweight fighter in the world at the time.
 

blackstar

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Stargazer2006 said:
Splendid collection of images!

Upon seeing this beauty from all angles and in all types of backgrounds, one can only feel even more regret that the type didn't see production. It was arguably the best lightweight fighter in the world at the time.
Although I can get as nostalgic for things not built as the next guy, is that really the case? There are a lot of advantages to having the F-16 in wide production and use. The large production reduced costs to the USAF, and having so many US allies using it makes it easier to conduct joint operations.
 

F-14D

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blackstar said:
Stargazer2006 said:
Splendid collection of images!

Upon seeing this beauty from all angles and in all types of backgrounds, one can only feel even more regret that the type didn't see production. It was arguably the best lightweight fighter in the world at the time.
Although I can get as nostalgic for things not built as the next guy, is that really the case? There are a lot of advantages to having the F-16 in wide production and use. The large production reduced costs to the USAF, and having so many US allies using it makes it easier to conduct joint operations.
Popping in just for a moment. Remember, F-20 was not designed with USAF sales in mind. It is true that every F-16 sold abroad helped reduce the costs for F-16s to USAF, which is why USAF was less than totally committed when representing it.

For a foreign customer, The F-20 cost less to buy and considerably less money and resources to maintain. Except at low altitude, it couldn't match the F-16's range/payload, but few nations outside the US are looking for that much range. Relative to the F-16A/B, its avionics were significantly more advanced, in some areas exceeding that of the F-16C of the time. Its engine was also better than what was in the F-16A/B, and it could react faster than anything. Regarding interoperability, not all of the target clients were in NATO, and even there there were multiple different types anyway. Communications and networking as it existed in the world of the 1980s (outside Sweden who was very advanced with this), you could put anything into it.

Yes, I'm a fan of the plane, but I'll only be here intermittently for a while, for what that's worth.
 

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Dear F-14D,
A man named Yeager flew the F-20 on numerous demo flights as you may no. He was (is) pure USAF and I believe he was trying his best (with $ incentive from Northrop) to prove the value of the Tigershark. You're F-14D moniker tells me you are a Navy man. -SP
 

F-14D

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Steve Pace said:
Dear F-14D,
A man named Yeager flew the F-20 on numerous demo flights as you may no. He was (is) pure USAF and I believe he was trying his best (with $ incentive from Northrop) to prove the value of the Tigershark. You're F-14D moniker tells me your are a Navy man. -SP

The descriptions of Yeager as a "man" is more appropriate than you may have intended. He was a Reservist by then, and his consultancy, marketing and publicity employment with Northrop was strictly in a civilian capacity and in no way did he represent that his views were that of the Air Force (I briefly met him once during this period, although the chance of his remembering me is somewhat less than my chances of wining the lottery). He loved the F20 and remarked that it was one of the easiest and most fun planes to fly he'd encountered.

Using him for marketing kind of backfired, though. Gen Yeager was and is one of aviation's true "Rock Stars". When he showed up with or to talk about the Tigershark, he overshadowed the product, and everyone wanted to talk about Chuck Yeager. It'd be like today Katy Perry giving public interviews in support the new Mustang.

Your Sher-lockian de-duction is purty good, Pilgrim.
 

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Creative

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Never seen some of those photos before, thanks for sharing!
 

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It's an interesting might-have-been because it was so close to a tipping point at which it could have been very successful. But, indeed, USG was not keen, because of the attractions of being able to share F-16 support with allies. Also, by 1984 the F-16's upgrade path to the Block 40/50 was becoming quite solid, making it look low-risk.


Had the F-20 succeeded, I suspect many of them would still be around because it would have shared the F-5's secret of eternal youth (that is, there is almost no part in that airframe that cannot be removed and replaced). They would be getting Selex and Elta AESAs and many of them would be serving their second operator.
 

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LowObservable said:
Had the F-20 succeeded, I suspect many of them would still be around
Potentially…although they might also have suffered similar to the F-16/79 with potential operators refusing to accept what was perceived as "less than the USAF". The real clincher might have been if they had achieved a significant customer - say West Germany or Taiwan which both showed interest. Of course a successful F-20 might have than had implications for other programs - e.g. Eurofighter Typhoon (in Germany's case) or even the JAS-39 Gripen given the similarity in design and capability.
 

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Unfortunately, United States government export control policies prevented Taiwan from acquiring the Northrop F-5G or F-20 Tigershark. Which is especially ironic considering that the F-5G program was initiated by Taiwan's desire to have a fighter capable of firing the AIM-7 Sparrow and the United States government's desire to limit the acquisition of front-line fighters to NATO countries, Australia, and Japan. Was President Carter's veto of the sale of 160 Northrop F-5G fighters to Taiwan in October 1978 motivated by a desire not to have a diplomatic incident with the People's Republic of China? The signing of the 1982 US-PRC Joint Communiqué by President Reagan continued to block sales of the Northrop F-5G to Taiwan forcing Taiwan to develop the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-kuo.

It seems that after Pakistan was permitted to purchase the General Dynamics F-16 by the Reagan Administration, other nations were no longer interested in acquiring the F-5G/F-20 Tigershark or being the aircraft's launch customer.
 

F-14D

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Triton said:
Unfortunately, United States government export control policies prevented Taiwan from acquiring the Northrop F-5G or F-20 Tigershark. Which is especially ironic considering that the F-5G program was initiated by Taiwan's desire to have a fighter capable of firing the AIM-7 Sparrow and the United States government's desire to limit the acquisition of front-line fighters to NATO countries, Australia, and Japan. Was President Carter's veto of the sale of 160 Northrop F-5G fighters to Taiwan in October 1978 motivated by a desire not to have a diplomatic incident with the People's Republic of China? The signing of the 1982 US-PRC Joint Communiqué by President Reagan continued to block sales of the Northrop F-5G to Taiwan forcing Taiwan to develop the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-kuo.

It seems that after Pakistan was permitted to purchase the General Dynamics F-16 by the Reagan Administration, other nations were no longer interested in acquiring the F-5G/F-20 Tigershark or being the aircraft's launch customer.
Although Carter screwed up a lot, it wasn't his Adm instration that vetoed the sale to Taiwan, it was the Reagan Admin. Carter started the "Export Fighter" program, which was supposed to be a lesser aircraft for export. Northrop called their plane the F-5G to maintain such a fiction about their aircraft which, unlike the F-16/79, was not a "dumbed down" aircraft but a significant advance in capability. With the change in Administrations, the designation was changed to F-20 to reflect that this was not a derivative aircraft.

Taiwan actually wanted 250, I believe, and the veto was particularly ironic as the Tigershark was designed with them in mind. There was more than just normal export policies at work, as the F-20 was designed for export worldwide and offered unique safeguards against technology misuse.

Typhoon was a much more capable aircraft, but it was also much more expensive and nearly 20 years later. F-20 wasn't a factor for JAS-39 because in those days Sweden wasn't interested in buying foreign or exporting their aircraft to any non-neutral nation, which left out all of NATO, and most of the Far East.

The last sentence is absolutely true. Once F-16 deliveries were permitted, other nations went that route because it was the safe bet and had superb marketing (appliance manufacturers in Pakistan sold their toaster as the "F-16 of toasters"). No matter how capable the aircraft was, because of inadequate representation and other factors, many countries wanted to be the second country to operate the F-20, let someone else take the risk at being first. Those countries that were interested in buying it anyway (only Taiwan has ever been publicly discussed) were not allowed to.
 

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There was a rumor in local media that Yugoslavia was interested in license building the F-20 in Soko factory in Mostar.
 

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Some more F-20 drawings, comparisons between the F-20 and F-20A as well as a short article from AW&ST discussing changes being made to the 4th prototype that was never completed.
 

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RAP

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Inboard drawing of the F-20, sorry the quality is not higher.
 

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Stargazer2006

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Great pics. Thanks to all who contributed to this great topic recently.


A point of detail probably, but a question that has been bugging me: when listing the USAF's F-series aircraft, many sources will indicate three aircraft under the F-20 entry.

If memory serves, the name "F-20" was little more than a marketing ploy, similar to the later "T-50". In both cases the DoD reserved a number but it was never used. I could be wrong here, but I gather the F-20 prototypes were always company-owned and never received a standard designation (that would have been YF-20A). And though one carried a USAF serial [82-0062], it was just leased for evaluation and never actually owned by the Air Force, otherwise it would quite officially have been designated as YF-20A... Am I right or wrong here?

If so, then in all logic, under the USAF's "F-20" entry it should read "0", "reserved but not allocated", perhaps "not procured"... but not "3"...
 

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F-20 was officially assigned to the Tigershark by the USAF
 

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"F-20" designation could be thought of as a marketing ploy, but it could also be said that "F-5G" was even more a marketing ploy.

When Carter set up the "export fighter" program, one of the requirements was that the planes had to be a derivative of an existing aircraft, preferably not as good. F-16/79 certainly was this. Northrop adopted the designation "F-5G" to go along with this, although the Tigershark was more a new, much more capable aircraft. It was based on and shared components with, but was not a derivative of, the F-5 series. A parallel would be the F9F Panthers and Cougars, although the difference was more dramatic.

Once President Reagan came into office, the "export fighter" concept died a deserved death. Northrop realized that the export fighter program was effectively telling nations , "You aren't good enough to deserve first line stuff", which made it kind of hard to market aircraft. So they petitioned DoD/USAF for a new numerical designation for the Tigershark. The next number up was F-20, so that's what they got.

Northrop also needed a US military sponsor in order to qualify for FMS money and they asked USAF to be it (A mistake in my mind, they should have picked USN since it didn't compete with any a/c in which they had a vested interest). This meant they had to get USAF "certification", which is a story in itself. I don't believe USAF leased an F-20 form Northrop for evaluation, but rather Northrop paid them to "evaluate and certify" their aircraft. All three F-20s that flew and were evaluated therefor got serial numbers, 82-0062/63/64; -0065 was never completed.

An interesting anecdote was that one of the USAF officers allegedly had AF markings temporarily put on the side of one of the Tigersharks and had a Hero Pose photo made for his family/friends. USAF got word of this and demanded that it be removed and all prints and negatives be destroyed (he was in uniform at the time). I have heard this story multiple times but can not personally vouch for its veracity since I didn't see it myself.
 

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Northrop was out $1.2 billion when the F-20 Tigershark program was cancelled in November 1986. The program being entirely self-financed by Northrop.
 

Stargazer2006

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Thanks, F-14D. So logically, since "F-20" itself is not a standard DoD designation, the aircraft MUST have been YF-20A somewhere on paper, don't you think?

Mind you, that would be asking for logic, when we have multiple examples of the lack thereof... :-\
 

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F-14D said:
"F-20" designation could be thought of as a marketing ploy, but it could also be said that "F-5G" was even more a marketing ploy.
It's like the opposite of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. One was an upgrade with a new designation, the other was a new aircraft with the same designation. Both for political reasons. (I'd put the XF8U-3 Crusader III in the latter category as well.)
 

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Stargazer2006 said:
Thanks, F-14D. So logically, since "F-20" itself is not a standard DoD designation, the aircraft MUST have been YF-20A somewhere on paper, don't you think?
No, it wasn't. It was F-20, no more and no less. The DOD had no need to call anything else.
 

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Stargazer2006 said:
Thanks, F-14D. So logically, since "F-20" itself is not a standard DoD designation, the aircraft MUST have been YF-20A somewhere on paper, don't you think?

Mind you, that would be asking for logic, when we have multiple examples of the lack thereof... :-\
IMO, "F-20" is a standard DoD designation. -18 was used for the bug, -19 was used for a mysterious something, and so the next one in sequence was -20. Note that the Kfirs the USN used as aggressor aircraft were designated "F-21".

All the F-20s were built on production tooling, Northrop didn't have or need a "Y" model per se. I suppose you could count #1 as the "Y", but it isn't really applicable, since this was a commercial effort, not a gov't one. Maybe you could think of 1-3 as EMD birds. 4 would have been the first one with the avionics and weapons suite installed, but it was never completed. Sorta like Boeing didn't build "YB-787s" (maybe they should have ? :) ).
 

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BTW, re my missive about the F-20 with USAF markings for a photo, I believe that the one with the temporary markings was the full scale mock-up in Hawthorne, not one of the flying birds.
 

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F-14D said:
IMO, "F-20" is a standard DoD designation. -18 was used for the bug, -19 was used for a mysterious something, and so the next one in sequence was -20. Note that the Kfirs the USN used as aggressor aircraft were designated "F-21".
F-19 was just skipped, not used for something black (unless they went in and backfilled later). Northrop wanted F-20 for Tigershark and the Air Force obliged. Andreas has exceprts from the relevant USAF discussions in the F-19 entry here:
http://www.designation-systems.net/usmilav/missing-mds.html
 

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TomS said:
F-14D said:
IMO, "F-20" is a standard DoD designation. -18 was used for the bug, -19 was used for a mysterious something, and so the next one in sequence was -20. Note that the Kfirs the USN used as aggressor aircraft were designated "F-21".
F-19 was just skipped, not used for something black (unless they went in and backfilled later). Northrop wanted F-20 for Tigershark and the Air Force obliged. Andreas has exceprts from the relevant USAF discussions in the F-19 entry here:
http://www.designation-systems.net/usmilav/missing-mds.html
Interesting; Northrop requested F-20 because it was the next available even number in the US fighter sequence.
 

Stargazer2006

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Byeman said:
Stargazer2006 said:
Thanks, F-14D. So logically, since "F-20" itself is not a standard DoD designation, the aircraft MUST have been YF-20A somewhere on paper, don't you think?
No, it wasn't. It was F-20, no more and no less. The DOD had no need to call anything else.

F-14D said:
Stargazer2006 said:
Thanks, F-14D. So logically, since "F-20" itself is not a standard DoD designation, the aircraft MUST have been YF-20A somewhere on paper, don't you think?

Mind you, that would be asking for logic, when we have multiple examples of the lack thereof... :-\
IMO, "F-20" is a standard DoD designation. -18 was used for the bug, -19 was used for a mysterious something, and so the next one in sequence was -20. Note that the Kfirs the USN used as aggressor aircraft were designated "F-21".
Sorry for not being clear, I think you missed my point. A standard post-1962 designation always has a suffix letter (A, B, C, etc.) to indicate the variant. And being a development/pre-production type, it ought to have had the "Y" prefix. Hence my comment that there is no logic in using a "plain" F-20 designation and not at least F-20A if it was an actual DoD designation.

Only other example I know of was the "UC-27" Friendship confiscated by the U.S. Customs, but even that didn't actually fit in the proper "C-" sequence.
 

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Stargazer2006 said:
Byeman said:
Stargazer2006 said:
Thanks, F-14D. So logically, since "F-20" itself is not a standard DoD designation, the aircraft MUST have been YF-20A somewhere on paper, don't you think?
No, it wasn't. It was F-20, no more and no less. The DOD had no need to call anything else.

F-14D said:
Stargazer2006 said:
Thanks, F-14D. So logically, since "F-20" itself is not a standard DoD designation, the aircraft MUST have been YF-20A somewhere on paper, don't you think?

Mind you, that would be asking for logic, when we have multiple examples of the lack thereof... :-\
IMO, "F-20" is a standard DoD designation. -18 was used for the bug, -19 was used for a mysterious something, and so the next one in sequence was -20. Note that the Kfirs the USN used as aggressor aircraft were designated "F-21".
Sorry for not being clear, I think you missed my point. A standard post-1962 designation always has a suffix letter (A, B, C, etc.) to indicate the variant. And being a development/pre-production type, it ought to have had the "Y" prefix. Hence my comment that there is no logic in using a "plain" F-20 designation and not at least F-20A if it was an actual DoD designation.

Only other example I know of was the "UC-27" Friendship confiscated by the U.S. Customs, but even that didn't actually fit in the proper "C-" sequence.
There was no YF because Northrop considered the aircraft nearly production representative and they were built on production tooling. At best, if the gov't had been developing the plane, the first 3 or 4 would have been considered EMD birds, and like the F-22 would not have a "YF". Also, this was a commercial, not a USG program, so the rules applying to the latter do not necessarily apply (like no Boeing YF 787 aircraft). Towards the end, Northrop did start referring to it as the "F-20A" acknowledging that other versions were planned, for example the two-seat F-20B.

I can think of two other examples. There was no YF-16/79, and there was no YF-35.
 

Stargazer2006

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Thanks, F-14D.


I decidedly have a hard time getting myself understood. When I said I could only think of one other example, I didn't speak of the "Y" prefix... I was talking about the lack of the compulsary "A" suffix that comes after every newly procured type in the DoD inventory.
 

F-14D

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Stargazer2006 said:
Thanks, F-14D.


I decidedly have a hard time getting myself understood. When I said I could only think of one other example, I didn't speak of the "Y" prefix... I was talking about the lack of the compulsary "A" suffix that comes after every newly procured type in the DoD inventory.
Ah.

The key here, then, is that the F-20 was never a US gov't program.
 
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