A previous question (Would it be feasible to restart production of the F-20 Tigershark?) has established that restarting production of the F-20 Tigershark is not feasible. Given this, I wonder if there's a modern-day counterpart to the Tigershark. The F-20 was known for being cheap(ish, though the linked question demonstrates that it likely would not be today), reliable, easy to maintain, quick to scramble, and exceptionally maneuverable. Is there a modern-day aircraft that fills this role? I'm particularly interested in the low-cost, low-maintenance footprint, and rapid scramble attributes of the F-20. I'm not considering the F-16 to fill this role because it can launch within five minutes of the scramble order when on alert (15 minutes cold), and the F-20 could break ground within 60 seconds of the order.

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    $\begingroup$ Note that an aircraft’s role is based on the type of mission(s) it is designed to fulfill not on how cheap or easy it is to maintain. It’s counterparts today would be the aircraft that are performing those missions regardless of how much they cost to acquire or maintain. $\endgroup$
    – Jim
    Mar 29, 2022 at 0:32
  • $\begingroup$ You're absolutely right. I'm more specifically curious about aircraft performing the same role that can still do it with lower maintenance costs and requirements. The aircraft's capabilities absolutely come first, but cost and required maintenance are important considerations for both less-wealthy nations as well as the distributed operations that would, without a doubt, occur in such a conflict in the Pacific as in the linked question. $\endgroup$
    – MD88Fan
    Mar 29, 2022 at 0:45
  • $\begingroup$ Where do you get your information that the F20 could break ground within 60 seconds “of the order”? (And what is the starting state before the order?) Because that's barely enough time to taxi at most airfields. $\endgroup$ Mar 29, 2022 at 1:02
  • $\begingroup$ globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/f-20-specs.htm The starting state is assumed to be standing "strip alert". Regardless, the F-20 had the fastest scramble time of any jet in the world. $\endgroup$
    – MD88Fan
    Mar 29, 2022 at 1:05
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    $\begingroup$ That link is nothing but pop-ups. Without some actual definition of this state and direct comparison to other similar aircraft the distinction is nebulous at best. What, specifically, does it take the F-16 5 minutes to accomplish that the F-20 can accomplish in 52 seconds? I don't expect you to know, but you can't really have a meaningful discussion around the supposed superiority of one over the other without a deeper understanding. $\endgroup$ Mar 29, 2022 at 2:37

1 Answer 1


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For instance the aircraft above. It is a Textron AirLand Scorpion, mentioned in this answer, which also quotes:

This is a composite fighter, designed with off-the-shelf parts, leaning heavily on technology developed for Cessna, who is the actual frame builder.

The wiki article expands on the target market and mentions the F-20 Tigershark:

The target market is the U.S. Air National Guard and foreign nations that cannot afford the F-35, but want an aircraft to perform ISR and light attack missions better than turboprop planes.[30] Buying and sustaining the Scorpion would cost less than A-10 or F-16 upgrades. For air patrol, the Scorpion requires radar and the capability of supersonic flight, similar to the unsuccessful 1980s-era Northrop F-20 Tigershark.

The article also mentions the F-16, the still formidable low-cost supersonic design of half a century ago, with much superior manoeuvring capabilities compared to the F-5/F-20. From the F-16 wiki:

The F-16 was designed to be relatively inexpensive to build and simpler to maintain than earlier-generation fighters. The airframe is built with about 80% aviation-grade aluminum alloys, 8% steel, 3% composites, and 1.5% titanium.


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