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.
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.
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.
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 (5,090 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)
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