War Thunder

Northrop F-20 Tigershark

warthunder 7 - Northrop F-20 Tigershark

9h5kbcorzem61 - Northrop F-20 Tigershark

F-20 Tigershark

Developed as an evolution of the successful Northrop F-5, the
F-20 Tigershark included a number of upgrades over the F-5. Despite this, it has a long, and somewhat troubled history. I will try my best to make sure I include all information I can, however if something is incorrect, feel free to correct it.

In War Thunder, this would be for the US tech tree, giving the US its own unique F-5 variant with increased capabilities. This could be a somewhat far off addition, as some nations have a more urgent need for better fighter aircraft in my opinion.


The Northrop F-5 was developed during the 1950s as a light and inexpensive fighter, and because of this, it proved to be an export success, with over 15 countries using it. However, during the late 1970s, the Republic of China wanted a fighter that could fire the new AIM-7 Sparrow, as the People's Republic of China by this time was beginning to introduce more modern fighters. The problem for the US government was that the 1970s was when the US and PRC's relationship began to warm following Nixon's 1972 visit. The ROC was still a touchy subject, and the US wanted to tread carefully. For the time being, the Carter administration limited the sales of the latest technology to other countries, stating that the United States could not be "both the world's champion of peace and the world's leading supplier of the weapons of war."

e7f45youzem61 - Northrop F-20 Tigershark

The Republic of China is one of the largest historical users of the F-5.

This policy began to show its downsides eventually, as the allies of the US using the F-5 found themselves potentially facing opponents with some of the latest Soviet aircraft. Not only this, but other countries began to look elsewhere for fighter aircraft, such as to France, for their Mirage 2000, or even turning to the Soviets for their latest MiGs. The Department of State proposed something similar to the F-5E, but incorporating more modern technologies. Eventually, the Carter administration approved development of the new fighter, known as FX. One of the requirements was that it was to outperform the F-5E, but not to use the advanced systems being used in US fighters of the time, such as in the early F-14 and F-15s. The project was to be privately financed, and the Department of State was to handle marketing, not the individual companies.

Two companies responded to the FX program, General Dynamics and Northrop. General Dynamics came up with the F-16/79, a downgraded F-16, replacing the Pratt & Whittney F100 engine with a J79 turbojet engine, and inferior avionics to those on the F-16A it was based on. The F-16 itself was still entering production around this time, and the F-16/79 first flew on October 29th, 1980.

The F-16/79, essentially an F-16 with downgraded electronics and engine.

Northrop came up with the F-5G, or as it was later known, the F-20 Tigershark. The major changes to this aircraft were in the rear, the engine. The General Electric F404-GE-100 was put in the back, giving the F-5G a single engine instead of two engines in the back. On top of this, the aircraft was given more modern avionics, including much better radar. With these changes, the F-20 compared to the F-5 was much faster, had BVRAAM capability, could carry more modern air-to-ground ordnance, and performance in general was improved.

In 1981 though, Ronald Reagan entered office, and the restrictions on arms exports were relaxed. Initially, this had little effect on the FX program, but a number of problems began to arise. The US signed a Joint Communiqué with the People's Republic of China in 1982, which continued blocking sales to the Republic of China, essentially signalling that the ROC would not be receiving modern aircraft from the US. As such, the
AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-kuo light fighter program began to be developed. An extension of earlier coproduction F-5Es, but this was turned down. Later in 1982, Northrop requested the aircraft's name be changed to F-20 Tigershark, which was accepted, but by this time, the future of the program looked down, with sales of the F-16, but also because of two crashes that reduced the credibility of the F-20's capabilities.

In 1984, test pilot Darrel Comell, while performing an F-20 demonstration flight for the South Korean Air Force at Suwon Air Base, crashed after an inverted stall after a climbing roll at 1,200 to 1,800 feet. The second occurred not even a year later in Goose Bay, Labrador, when test pilot Dave Barnes was practicing his routine for the Paris Air Show. It is thought he lost consciousness due to g-forces. Despite investigations being done revealing that the incidents were not because of the plane itself, the F-20 was still seen as a risky aircraft.

After a while of trying to get the F-20 into US inventory, including the US Navy, the F-20 ultimately was cancelled in 1986. General Dynamics offered its F-16C for the same price as the F-20, but the F-16 offered better performance. Despite the $1.2 billion investment into the program, Northrop managed to stay afloat due to its involvement in the
1920px FA 18 Hornet Pax River Museum 1 - Northrop F-20 Tigershark

F/A-18 Hornet, as well as the B-2 strategic bomber, and the Advanced Tactical Fighter program.

5htio92hzem61 - Northrop F-20 Tigershark

Chuck Yeager with the F-20 Tigershark and a Chevy Corvette.


An 'under the hood' look at the F-20.

Mockup cockpit of the F-20.

bbph1pz12fm61 - Northrop F-20 Tigershark

Structure of the aircraft, along with payload options.

General Characteristics

  • Crew: 1 pilot
  • Length: 47 ft 4 in (14.4 m)
  • Wingspan: 27 ft 11.9 in / 8.53 m; with wingtip missiles (26 ft 8 in/ 8.13 m; without wingtip missiles)
  • Height: 13 ft 10 in (4.20 m)
  • Wing area: 200 ft² (18.6 m²)
  • Empty weight: 13,150 lb (5,964 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 15,480 lb (7,021 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 27,500 lb (12,474 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × General Electric F404-GE-100 turbofan, 17,000 lbf (76 kN)


  • Maximum speed: Mach 2, 1320 mph, 2,124 kmh
  • Combat radius: 300 nmi (345 mi, 556 km) ; for hi-lo-hi mission with 2 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks
  • Ferry range: 1,490 nmi (1715 mi, 2759 km) ; with 3 × 330 US gal (1,250 L) drop tanks
  • Service ceiling: 55,000 ft (16,800 m)
  • Rate of climb: 52,800 ft/min (255 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 81.0 lb/ft² (395 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 1.1


  • Guns: 2× 20 mm (0.79 in) Pontiac M39A2 cannons in the nose, 280 rounds each
  • Hardpoints: 5 external hardpoints with a capacity of 8,000 lb (3,600 kg) of bombs, missiles, rockets and up to 3 drop tanks for extended range
  • Rockets: 2 × CRV7 rocket pods Or2 × LAU-10 rocket pods with 4 × Zuni 5 in (127 mm) rockets each Or2 × Matra rocket pods with 18 × SNEB 68 mm rockets each
  • Missiles: 2 × AIM-9 Sidewinders on wingtip launch rails (similar to F-16 and F/A-18)Up to 4 x AIM-7 Sparrows on underwing launch railsAGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missiles on hardpoints
  • Bombs: Various air-to-ground ordnance such as Mark 80 series of unguided iron bombs (including 3 kg and 14 kg practice bombs), CBU-24/49/52/58 cluster bomb munitions, M129 Leaflet bomb















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