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From The Archives: First Flight of the Northrop F-5G Tigershark


The first flight of the Northrop F-5G Tigershark – soon rebranded as the F-20 – was featured on our cover in September, 1982, attaining a speed of Mach 1.04 during a 40 min. flight from Edwards AFB, California. The light fighter program was unique in that its development was entirely funded by Northrop and its suppliers, with the company writing off costs on a quarterly basis. 

According to a case study by the Rand Corp.’s Tom Martin and Rachel Schmidt, the Tigershark was intended to demonstrate Northrop’s advances in production technology, including the use of composite airframe components.  While the program was considered a success from a technical point of view, Northrop was unable to convince the U.S. Navy or Air Force to order F-20s in place of F-16s or find an export customer. The Tigershark program was terminated at the end of 1986 after an investment of more than $1.2 billion over 10 years.



Read the Sept. 13, 1982 edition in Aviation Week & Space Technology’s archive​.

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Aviation Week & Space Technology marked its centennial in 2016. Here, we highlight editorial content from the magazine's long and rich history.

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