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A few explanations for the decisive reason why the Northrop F-20 Tigershark was not officially adopted


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F-20 flying








The final version of the F-5 series developed by Notrope, the lightweight standard with the name Tiger shark.

Since the first prototype was produced in 1982, a total of three episodes have been produced.



It was developed with the aim of selling in Taiwan, but the development of the F-5E was stopped due to the establishment of official diplomatic relations between the US and China in 1979 , and the development was stopped. Jimmy Carter, who took office as president in 1977, announced a plan not to sell foreign fighters of the same class as the US flagship in the name of "stopping a global arms race". The Carter administration made plans not to sell them to countries other than NATO, Australia and Japan, even the F-16 for second-tier allies/allies, replacing the original high-performance F100 turbofan engine with the F-4 or F-104. Only the version equipped with the J79 turbojet engine  was approved for sale.

So Northrop suddenly resumed plans to develop the F-5G as a new concept F-5 to be sold to other second-tier allies of the United States who could not afford the latest American aircraft. The plan was also easily approved by the Air Force.

Originally, the official name should have been F-19 because it was next to F/A-18, but in the sense of opening a new era with Northrop's lobby, the first number of the 20th number was stitched. The official announcement of the US military was 'skip the number 19 so as not to confuse it with the MiG-19', then what is the 15 of the F-15? (MiG-15, Su-15) Thanks to fishing, a virtual streamlined aircraft named F-19 appeared in toy models and even games. It was such an amazing fishing that there are still F-19s in the United States. It is a fighter that is made by torturing aliens, and there is a persistent urban legend that the F-117 is a fake. Area 51, used by Skunk Works to test the U-2 and F-117, was rumored to be an alien camp.

Unlike the twin-engined F-5, the F-20 is a single-engine fighter, but its engine performance has been dramatically improved. The F-5 had two J85 engines with a maximum thrust of 5,000 lbs, but the F404 mounted on the F-20 produced 13,000/17,000 lbs of thrust with just one. At the time of its appearance, it was a fighter that had some advantages over the F-16A, which did not have the ability to operate medium-range air-to-air missiles, and according to the manufacturer's claim, it achieved more than 60% performance improvement compared to the F-5E.

In fact, at first glance, the shape looks the same as the existing F-5, but as the LEX (Leading Edge-Extend, or Strake) became larger and the center of gravity position changed, the aircraft became unstable in the longitudinal direction. This helped improve maneuverability in a similar way to the F-16, and for this purpose, the controllability enhancement system (CAS) used in the F-15 or F/A-18 at the time was used, although not fly-by-wire. In addition, the horizontal tail wing has been enlarged to improve maneuverability.

At that time, it emerged as a candidate model during the fighter introduction project of Korea, which was the second-class ally of the United States and the first country (...). At a low price, it immediately attracted the attention of politicians. In addition, Korea's first bribery case took place. Northrop, who had done a lot of business with the F-5, knew exactly what the key point of the deal would be in the country where it would be sold, and had already lubricated the political world before the test flight at the Suwon airfield. See Northrop Scandal for details. For reference, Lockheed also asked Japan to buy L-1011 similar to what Northrop did to South Korea in the 1970s, and at the time, Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka and others excitedly fed kickbacks here and there. See the Lockheed Incident for more information on this.


Scene of a crash during an air show at Suwon Airport of the 10th Fighter Wing on October 10, 1984

However, in 1984, right in front of then-president Chun Doo-hwan, during a demonstration flight, a pilot fainted during a sudden maneuver (G-LOC) and crashed and died, and the Korean fighter jet business fell away early. The Air Force, which originally thought that the F-20 was just an improved version of the F-5, did not deserve the F-20 introduction, and when the F-20 fell in front of Chun Doo-hwan, an Air Force official present said to himself, " Look at that... even if I jumped, it said it was a flea," he said muttered.

Later, in May 1985, during a test flight in Canada, it crashed and caused a fatal accident. Accident report  The cause of the accident was also G-LOC, which had nothing to do with design flaws, but it was already a fatal blow to marketing. Even after lobbying for money like this, when the adoption failed, Northrop filed a lawsuit against Korea, demanding that the money be returned. Of course, he lost and was criticized in the United States. American aviation enthusiasts even criticized it as the worst thief to file a lawsuit for trying to sell garbage but not buying it.

Although both prototypes were lost and two test pilots were killed, Northrop pushed ahead with the F-20 project with grit, revealing the production of the third prototype and using General Chuck Yeager as a model. In addition, fighter jets such as the F/A-18 were sold overseas with the same specifications as those used by the United States and delivered a decisive blow. In addition, as France released the Mirage 2000, which is better than the F-20 in many ways, the position of the F-20 gradually narrowed.

In fact, in terms of performance, there were several aspects ahead of the F-16 at the time. In particular, the F-16 at the time could not use the mid-range missile AIM-7 Sparrow, but the F-20 could use the Sparrow, so BVR combat performance this was ahead

However, considering future scalability, the F-20 was an improved model based on the F-5, so there was no room for further performance improvement, while the F-16 was continuously upgraded through mass adoption of the US Air Force, and the result It is proven by the long-running sales performance for over a year. However, as can be seen in the case of the Brazilian F-5 operating up to the AIM-120 AMRAAM or the MiG-21 equipped with the R-77, if there is a requirement, it will be possible to remodel as much as possible, and this will be the same if the F-20 survived. Applied. In the case of the F-20, the engines and radars that were adopted at the time of development have been used to some extent afterwards, and thanks to this, management/improvement is continuously made. In the case of F404, it can be retrofitted to F414, etc., and even in the case of early radars, it would have been possible to upgrade or change to AESA series. However, all of these are different from the F-16, in which new technology is reflected based on the US Air Force's improvement plan, because there is a burden that the country that introduces it, not the US Air Force, directly pays for improvement or the developer has to pay the money and develop it and then return the development cost. It is self-evident that it would have made a big difference.

Anyway, when one unit fell in Korea, which seemed the most promising among overseas markets, and crashed in Canada, Northrop turned its eyes to the domestic market and set the National Guard as its marketing target. Based on the 'response ability', the marketing point of 'air defense fighter' was taken... However, as the C/D type came out in the F-16, a large number of A/Bs retired from the front line flowed in, and the F-20 again gave the F-16 suffered. Strictly speaking, it was pushed back by an improved type called the F-16 ADF, not the A/B type. In the air defense fighter business of the National Defense Force, the ADF model with improved air combat capability instead of ground attack capability was introduced, and since the F-20 lost its superiority, it was a derivative of the F-16 already used by the US Air Force, so the F-16 ADF was eventually adopted. It became.

Once again, attempts were made to sell to Taiwan, but were thwarted as Taiwan also showed interest in the F-16. After all kinds of twists and turns, exports to Jordan and Bahrain were approved, but the quantity of orders was so small that the production line could not be installed, so the government intervened again and switched to another fighter. And last but not least, the superpower of selling all production technology, rights, and related facilities to Korea, which started to localize the F-5, was pushed forward, but this also collapsed as the Korean government did not show interest.

Northrop, who was barely recovering from the failure of the YF-17 (later the F/A-18) due to the F-20, which spent only development money and did not earn a dime, suffered a fatal blow on 




Actual crash scene 





















The rest of the details are uploaded by me as a PDF file. Take it if you need it



F-20 Tigershark - endorsed by Chuck Yeager and many other pilots, but the  F-16's development ended up sidelining this beautiful and powerful fighter  jet. Would be great to see this beauty live

BEMIL 사진 자료실 - 유용원의 군사세계

Rest in peace for the Republic of Korea Air Force Major and Canadian pilot who died while fulfilling their national duty.


F-20 Report contents such as analysis of the actual cause of the accident at the time .pdf

Edited by Selfreliance
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