A Case Study of the F-20 Tigershark
In December 1986, the Northrop Corporation terminated its F-20 Tigershark fighter aircraft program without having sold a single F-20. The program had been in existence for over ten years and had cost over $1.2 billion. The F-20 program was unique because it was privately funded — i.e., Northrop and its subcontractors covered all of the costs. This paper examines the F-20 program from both a research-and-development (R&D) and a marketing perspective. It presents the reasons the F-20 was built and shows how the F-20 program drew on a Northrop philosophy of what an export fighter should be. It examines Northrop's reasons for regarding the F-20 effort as successful. Finally, it examines the Northrop F-20 R&D and acquisition story in light of several prescriptions developed by RAND research.