Northrop developed the F-20 Tigershark as an improved version of the F-5E intended for foreign military sales (FMS). The aircraft first flew on Aug. 30, 1982, and compiled an impressive performance, reliability and weapons delivery record. During its flight test program, the F-20 fired the AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missile, 2.75-inch folding fin aerial rockets, dropped MK82 bombs, and fired rounds from a 30mm gun pod in addition to the two internal M-39 20mm cannon.
The F-20 was never considered for USAF service, and the U.S. Navy decided to buy F-16s for its aggressor aircraft program. These two facts essentially doomed the F-20 FMS program. Although the test program demonstrated the potential of the F-20, countries tended to buy the F-16, in part, because it was used by the USAF and USN while the F-20 was not.
Development of the F-5E for export
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: Two M39 20mm cannon and provisions for up to 9,000 lbs. of external stores Engine: One General Electric F404-GE-100 afterburning turbofan Maximum speed: Mach 2+ Range: 1,880 nautical miles (maximum ferry range) Service ceiling: Approx. 55,000 ft. Span: 26 ft. 8 in. Length: 47 ft. 4 in. Height: 13 ft. 10 in. Weight: 28,000 lbs. maximum takeoff Crew: One