In World War III, the Northrop F-20 Tigershark made its comeback, largely as America needed combat planes, and the F-16 line had to be moved from Texas in the early days of the war. Northrop opened its line in February, 1986. Similarly, Taiwan also opened a line as well.

From the get-go, the F-20 was equipped with the AIM-7F Sparrow missile, and the AIM-9L Sidewinder, making it a very potent fighter. Matthew Clancy, the top ace of the war, would score 27 of his 52 kills in World War III.

The F-20s proved themselves in combat very quickly. They rapidly equipped many Air National Guard units called up in the war, also entered South Korean, Thai, and Singaporean service as well.

220px-F-20 firing a missile

An F-20 launching an AGM-65 Maverick missile


F-20A: Pretty much the same as the prototypes first flying. Capable of firing AIM-7F, AIM-9L missiles.

F-20B: Two-seat trainer version of the F-20A.

F-20C: Upgraded fighter with AIM-7M, AIM-120 capability and improved air-to-ground capability, including LANTIRN system and AGM-65 Maverick missiles and Paveway laser-guided bombs.

F-20D: Two-seat trainer version of F-20C. Also used to transition pilots to F-20E with upgrades.

F-20E: F-20C with further upgrades, including extended-range AMRAAMs (AIM-120D, AIM-9X), AGM-88 HARM, HARM Targeting System and upgraded to F404-402 with more power.

F-20F: Upgraded F-20E with lower radar-cross section, APG-79 radar from F-24, F414 engine from F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Can carry full range of air-to-ground ordnance.

F-20G: Two-seat conversion trainer for F-20F.

Taiwanese variants

F-20 Ching-kuo: licenses version of the Northrop F-20 Tigershark. built in Taiwan for the Republic of China Air Force by Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC). First introduction in 1987, christened " Ching-kuo ", after Chiang Ching-kuo, the President of the Republic of China.

F-20 Tigershark 2000: Upgraded version of the F-20 Ching-kuo, equipped with the GD-53 radar, are capable of firing the TC-2 Sky Sword II, MIL-STD-1553B Link and GPS/INS. First flew in 2001 with more than 90 F-20 Ching-kuo upgraded to the F-20 Tigershark 2000 standard.

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)

F-20 1

An F-20 dropping Mk.82 bombs.

Empty weight: 13,150 lb (5,090 kg)

Loaded weight: 15,480 lb (6,830 kg)

Max. takeoff weight: 27,500 lb (11,920 kg)

Powerplant: 1 × General Electric F404-GE-100 turbofan, 17,000 lbf (76 kN)


Maximum speed: Mach 2+

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: Five external hardpoints with a capacity of 8,000 lb (3,600 kg) of bombs, missiles, rockets and drop tanks for extended range

Rockets: 2× CRV7 rocket pods Or

2 × LAU-10 rocket pods with 4 × Zuni 5 in (127 mm) rockets each Or

2 × 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)

AGM-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