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Due to export restrictions by the Department of Defence preventing sales of advanced avionics and aircraft to export customers, many allies who were flying the now out-dated F-5 could not purchase the latest F-16 aircraft to meet the threat of the latest MiG-29s and Su-27s that Soviet allies were receiving. As a result, Northrop Grumman initiated the FX program, to design and build a new 4th light export generation fighter on the basis of the cancelled F-5F Super Tiger. The primary requirements for this new fighter were cheap interoperability with existing F-5 fleets, BVR capability, and modular compatibility with almost every kind of ordnance the US offered for export at the time. The resulting aircraft, the F-20 Tigershark, was essentially an F-5E with a special radar capable of firing the AIM-7 Sparrow missile, and the two small engines of the F-5 family being replaced with a single F-404 engine similar to that of the F/A-18 Hornet. The resulting aircraft was slated to become the export standard for most NATO allies of the time, with Japan, West Germany, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and various other close allies eyeing the Tigershark for potential purchase. However, under the Reagan Administration, new export laws were passed which lifted most of the technology export bans, and as a result of further political meddling from the US and General Dynamics, the F-20 saw all its sale chances falter and fall through, with almost every country instead buying F-16s or F-15s (or in the case of Germany, simply upgrading their existing F-4F fleet to carry the new AIM-120 AMRAAM).

The F-20A Tigershark was introduced in Update "Alpha Strike". Being essentially an up-engined F-5E with better avionics, it plays exactly as one would expect it. It is one of the best dogfighters of its battle rating, and is only beaten by the F-16s and in some flight regimes the Mirage 2000. As a result, players looking for buying this aircraft should be expected to know how to properly dogfight, manage their energy, and employ their radar correctly to best the enemy aircraft. The incredible choice of ground ordnance also provides a nice alternative to the F-16A Block 10 in mixed battles. All in all, the F-20 is a great premium for researching the ranks of the US tree, and in terms of gameplay acts as a nice in-between for the two F-16s at the same BR in the American tree, having the AIM-7s and BVR capability of the F-16A ADF, while also having the guided ground ordnance of the F-16A Block 10.

General info

Flight performance

Air brakes
Allows you to dramatically reduce the flight speed by releasing special flaps
Drogue parachute
Reduces braking distance when landing on any runway
Max speed
at 11 582 m2 200 km/h
Turn time22 s
Max altitude15 240 m
EngineGeneral Electric F404-GE-100
Cooling systemAir
Take-off weight24 t

The F-20 is a similar experience in terms of flight performance compared to the F-5C, with great energy retention and turn rate above Mach 0.85. However, due to the F404-100, it has plenty of thrust compared to the lacklustre thrust of the F5C.

Characteristics Max speed
(km/h at 11,582 m)
Max altitude
Turn time
Rate of climb
Take-off run
Stock 2,149 2,121 15240 22.5 22.7 221 210 850
Upgraded 2,254 2,200 21.5 22.0 291 255


Combat flaps Take-off flaps Landing flaps Air brakes Arrestor gear Drogue chute
Wings (km/h) Gear (km/h) Flaps (km/h) Max Static G
Combat Take-off Landing + -
1,458 482 1,296 473 463 ~12 ~6
Optimal velocities (km/h)
Ailerons Rudder Elevators Radiator
< ___ < ___ < ___ N/A

Engine performance

Engine Aircraft mass
Engine name Number Basic mass Wing loading (full fuel)
General Electric F404-GE-100 1 _,___ kg ___ kg/m2
Engine characteristics Mass with fuel (no weapons load) Max Gross
Weight (each) Type _m fuel __m fuel __m fuel
1,015 kg Afterburning low-bypass turbofan _,___ kg _,___ kg _,___ kg _,___ kg
Maximum engine thrust @ 0 m (RB/SB) Thrust to weight ratio @ 0 m (___%/WEP)
Condition 100% ___%/WEP _m fuel __m fuel __m fuel MGW
Stationary ___ kgf ___ kgf _.__ _.__ _.__ _.__
Optimal ___ kgf
(_ km/h)
___ kgf
(_ km/h)
_.__ _.__ _.__ _.__

Survivability and armor

Aircraft countermeasures to distract IR and radar-guided missiles and also AA radar
Crew1 person
Speed of destruction
Structural0 km/h
Gear482 km/h

The F-20 is a light fighter. As such it has no armour. If it loses its wing or tail, it becomes incredibly difficult to fly. It isn't that durable against common cannons for its BR, however it's possible to survive smaller IR missiles but the plane would no longer be combat capable and should immediately return to the base.

Modifications and economy

Repair cost
AB2 275 Sl icon.png
RB6 411 Sl icon.png
SB7 527 Sl icon.png
Crew training10 000 Sl icon.png
Experts1 770 000 Sl icon.png
Aces3 400 Ge icon.png
Research Aces2 560 000 Rp icon.png
Reward for battleAB / RB / SB
Talisman.png 2 × 90 / 320 / 500 % Sl icon.png
Talisman.png 2 × 250 / 250 / 250 % Rp icon.png
Flight performance Survivability Weaponry
Mods jet compressor.png
Mods booster.png
New boosters
Mods aerodinamic wing.png
Wings repair
Mods jet engine.png
Mods aerodinamic fuse.png
Fuselage repair
Mods armor frame.png
Mods g suit.png
Mods armor cover.png
Mods ammo.png
Mod arrow right 0.png
Mods weapon.png
Mods pilon bomb.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods napalm fire bomb.png
Mods gunpods.png
Gun pod GPU-5/A.
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods pilon block rocket.png
Mod arrow 1.png
Mods pilon bomb.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods heli false thermal targets.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods ammo.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods pilon bomb.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods air to air missile.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods weapon.png
Mods atgm heli preset.png
Mods pilon bomb.png
Mods air to air midrange missile.png


Ballistic Computer
CCIP (Guns) CCIP (Rockets) CCIP (Bombs) CCRP (Bombs) EEGS
alt={{{alt}}} alt={{{alt}}} alt={{{alt}}} alt={{{alt}}} alt={{{alt}}}

Offensive armament

Main article: M39A3 (20 mm)

The F-20A is armed with:

  • 2 x 20 mm M39A3 cannons, nose-mounted (280 rpg = 560 total)
  • 15 x large calibre countermeasures
  • 30 x countermeasures

Suspended armament

The F-20A can be outfitted with the following ordnance:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Hardpoints F-5E (China).png
30 mm GAU-13/A cannons (353 rpg) 1
500 lb LDGP Mk 82 bombs 1 1 1, 5 1 1
500 lb Mk 82 Snakeye bombs 1 1 1, 5 1 1
750 lb M117 cone 45 bombs 1 1 1 1 1
1,000 lb LDGP Mk 83 bombs 1 1 1
2,000 lb LDGP Mk 84 Air bombs 1
2,000 lb LDGP Mk 84 bombs 1
BLU-1 incendiary bombs 1 1 1 1 1
FFAR Mighty Mouse rockets 19 19 19 19
AGM-65B missiles 1 1 1 1
AIM-7F Sparrow missiles 1 1
AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles 1 2* 2* 1
150 gal drop tanks 1* 1 1*
* Wing-mounted drop tanks cannot be equipped with Sidewinder missiles in the adjacent hardpoint
Default weapon presets
  • 3 x 150 gal drop tanks
  • 6 x AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles
  • 2 x AIM-7F Sparrow missiles
  • 5 x 750 lb M117 cone 45 bombs (3,750 lb total)
  • 9 x 500 lb LDGP Mk 82 bombs (4,500 lb total)
  • 9 x 500 lb Mk 82 Snakeye bombs (4,500 lb total)
  • 3 x 1,000 lb LDGP Mk 83 bombs (3,000 lb total)
  • 1 x 2,000 lb LDGP Mk 84 bomb (2,000 lb total)
  • 76 x FFAR Mighty Mouse rockets
  • 4 x AGM-65B missiles
  • 1 x 30 mm GAU-13/A cannon (353 rpg)
  • 5 x BLU-1 incendiary bombs
  • 1 x 2,000 lb LDGP Mk 84 Air bomb (2,000 lb total)

Usage in battles

The F-20A can be viewed as both a sidegrade between F-16A and F-16A ADF and a downgrade in US tech tree as it can carry similar armaments to both of them but not to same capacity as either of them. While it can carry almost same payload type as F-16A (excluding GBU-8) it can only carry it in lower numbers which severely limits air-to-ground performance, but unlike F-16A or F-16A ADF it can carry both radar guided missiles and TV-guided AGM to a certain extent.

Best way to take down other planes is to use speed and surprise occupied enemy planes with either the Sparrow (only at altitudes several hundred meters above ground) or Sidewinders but with IR missiles be careful that friendly plane in question isn't the F-14, Su-27 or MiG-29 which have fairly high engine temperature and could result in friendly fire instead.


While F-20A has amazing flight performance and thrust-to-weight ratio that allows the plane to dogfight inexperienced F-16 and F-14 players, trying to fight more experienced players can end fairly badly for F-20A as the M39A3 is far weaker than 20 mm Vulcan or 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon and not bleeding enough speed while turning can easily get you ahead of plane you are chasing (and in front of their far powerful guns).

Head-ons are not recommended as the M39A3 is one of the weaker gun in the BR bracket and mounting 30 mm GAU-13/A cannon would only greatly decrease F-20A flight performance to add only 353 30 mm shells.

Air-to-air missile gameplay

F-20A has very limited gameplay in that aspect as it can carry only 6 AIM-9L or exchange 2 Sidewinders for 1 AIM-7F up to combination of 2 Sidewinders and 2 Sparrows. Sadly the F-20A does not have access to AIM-7M unlike F-16A ADF or F-14B which have far lower reaction time after being detached from the plane.

As the plane can gain energy faster than any plane on same BR, it's advised to surprise enemy with AIM-9L or target higher altitude targets with AIM-7F, while keeping safe distance from possible IR threats and staying at low altitude as the enemy planes usually have stronger radar guided missiles.

As the plane has access only to 45 countermeasures, it may not be preferential to split the amount between flares and chaffs as the radars encountered at this BR are usually pulse-doppler, where chaffs have minimal effect and low-alt flights and notching can work instead. Instead, bring flares as the number of tough IR missiles like R-73, AIM-9M, and similar missiles mean the F-20A need all it can bring to ward off these smart IR missiles.

Pros and cons


  • Incredible overall flight performance with very good thrust-to-weight ratio with great energy retention
  • Can stay at supersonic speed without using afterburner
  • Combat flaps are capable of withstanding plane top speed
  • Very small target compared to all planes it the BR bracket
  • Combination of high manoeuvrability and even mediocre missile payload can surprise most enemies resulting in fairly easy shoot-downs.


  • Loses 2 hardpoints for AIM-9L for every AIM-7F
  • M39A3 cannons deal very low damage
  • Overall one of the worst air-to-air armaments when compared to planes on same BR
  • Can carry only 45 countermeasures
  • While it can maintain very low speed and not stalling, it does not have as good low-speed manoeuvrability as other planes


In the 1980s, the U.S. State Department sent out a request for an export fighter. In response, Northrop came up with the F-5G, which would be a vastly improved version of the F-5E. After receiving approval from the State Department, Northrop, without financial help from the government, began work on the F-5G. Up to this point, F-5s had twin J85 engines that produced around 3,000 kilograms of force per engine. These engines would end up being replaced by a single F404 engine that produced far more power at the expense of weighing more. Northrop also heavily modified the wings to increase performance and handling. In addition, the avionics were upgraded, and soon the Air Force ordered a few examples of the F-5G. The F-5G would also receive a new designation to separate it from the F-5 series, the F-20.

Although the F-20 had favorable characteristics, it was overshadowed by the F-16. The Fighting Falcon was simply far superior to the F-20, and the Air Force chose the F-16. This essentially killed the F-20, as there wouldn't be enough demand for it to commence production. Northrop also tried selling the entire F-20 program, but that also failed. Only one surviving F-20 exists and is on display in the California Science Center.


Engineers from Northrop Corporation developed the F-20A Tigershark as a deep modernization of the F-5G fighter with improved flight and characteristics at a low cost. This new aircraft received a new power plant consisting of a single General Electric F404-100 engine, advanced avionics and radar, plus an expanded range of weapons. It made its first flight in 1982, where a total of 3 were built for testing. At the time of its creation, the F-20A was a direct competitor to the F-16 fighter jet, but was inferior to it and did not go into mass production. The only surviving F-20A was transferred to the California Science Center and is currently on display as an exhibit.



See also

Related development

External links

Northrop Corporation
Fighters  P-61A-11 · P-61C-1
Jet fighters  F-89B · F-89D
  F-5A · F-5C · F-5E
Export  ␗F-5A · ▄F-5E FCU

USA jet aircraft
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F-5  F-5A · F-5C · F-5E · F-20A
F-8  F8U-2 · F-8E
F-80  F-80A-5 · F-80C-10
F-84  F-84B-26 · F-84F · F-84G-21-RE
F-86  F-86A-5 · F-86F-25 · F-86F-2 · F-86F-35
F-89  F-89B · F-89D
F-100  F-100D
F-104  F-104A · F-104C
F-14  F-14A Early · F-14B
F-15  F-15A · F-15C MSIP II
F-16  F-16A · F-16A ADF · F-16C
F9F  F9F-2 · F9F-5 · F9F-8
Other  P-59A · F2H-2 · F3D-1 · F3H-2 · F4D-1 · F11F-1
  Strike Aircraft
FJ-4  FJ-4B · FJ-4B VMF-232
A-4  A-4B · A-4E Early
A-6  A-6E TRAM
A-7  A-7D · A-7E · A-7K
AV-8  AV-8A · AV-8C · AV-8B Plus
A-10  A-10A · A-10A Late
B-57  B-57A · B-57B
F-105  F-105D
F-111  F-111A

USA premium aircraft
Fighters  Thach's F2A-1 · Galer's F3F-2 · F2G-1 · F4U-4B VMF-214 · P-26A-34 · P-40C · P-43A-1
  P-47M-1-RE · ⋠P-47M-1-RE · P-51A · P-51D-10 · P-51D-20-NA · ␠Kingcobra · XP-55
  ▃A6M2 · ▃Ki-43-II · ▃Ki-61-Ib · ▃Bf 109 F-4 · ▃Fw 190 A-8 · ▃Spitfire LF Mk IXc
Twin-engine fighters  XP-38G · Bong's P-38J-15 · P-38K · YP-38 · P-61A-11 · XF5F · XP-50 · F7F-3
Jet fighters  P-59A · F-86F-35 · F-89B · F-89D · F-4S Phantom II · F-5C · F-20A
Strike aircraft  A-1H · A2D-1 · AU-1 · XA-38 · AV-8A · A-6E TRAM · A-10A
Bombers  A-26C-45DT · B-10B · BTD-1 · PBM-3 "Mariner" · PV-2D