This Retro F-20 Tigershark Video Is Everything An ‘80s Promo Ad Should Be

Gear
Northrop F-20 in flight.
U.S. Air Force photo

The Northrop F-20 Tigershark is arguably one of the most elegant fighter jets never built. Developed during the waning years of the Cold War, the sleek machine came equipped with the General Electric F404 turbofan engine that gave the F-20 an unbelievable acceleration and initial climb rate, positioning the fighting to “operate on short runways [and] outfight the Soviet Union’s best,” as Defense Media Network put it in 2014.


And hell, did Northrop know how to make your mouth water for a fine piece of military machinery. Just watch this classic yet enthralling early 19080s promo video for the F-20, first flagged by our friends at The Drive.

Narrated by the legendary Air Force Gen. Chuck Yeager himself, the 13-minute sales video paints a fairly alluring portrait of the nimble and deadly fighter in action.

“The first line of defense is tactical air power,” muses Yeager in a voiceover fit for a classic Arnold Schwarzenegger trailer. “The need is for quick response, high performance, and the ability to fly again, and again, and again with only the aircraft, the men, and the supplies at hand … Only now, with the new technology of the 80s, is it possible to have a fighter with both high performance and reliability.”

Sadly, the Tigershark was doomed into non-existence not by technological failure (we see you, F-35), but political consideration. From DMN:

With the election of Ronald Reagan as president, the FX program gradually fell out of favor as the administration relaxed export restrictions. Then the 1982 signing of the U.S.-PRC Joint Communiqué on arms sales blocked sale of the F-20 to Taiwan. Worse for the F-20’s chance in other markets, the Air Force had an iron in the fire with regard to foreign military sales (FMS), as every F-16 sold to a foreign country meant the overall production cost of the Air Force’s own F-16s would go down.

Eventually, the U.S. Navy opted to go with the F-16N Flying Falcon rather than the Tigershark, slamming the door in Northrop’s face. Only three F-20 Tigersharks were ever built.

My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead

"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."

Opinion

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.

They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.

As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.

But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.

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Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario's seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.

Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.

The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.

Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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An Army staff sergeant who "represents the very best of the 101st Airborne Division" has finally received a Silver Star for his heroic actions during the Battle of the Bulge after a 75-year delay.

On Sunday, Staff Sgt. Edmund "Eddie" Sternot was posthumously awarded with a Silver Star for his heroics while leading a machine gun team in the Ardennes Forest. The award, along with Sternot's Bronze Star and Purple Heart, was presented to his only living relative, Sternot's first cousin, 80-year-old Delores Sternot.

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U.S. special operations forces are currently field testing a lightweight combat armor designed to cover more of an operator's body than previous protective gear, an official told Task & Purpose.

The armor, called the Lightweight Polyethylene (PE) Armor for Extremity Protection, is one of a handful of subsystems to come out of U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) effort that media outlets dubbed the "Iron Man suit," Navy Lieutenant Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, a SOCOM spokesman, told Task & Purpose on Wednesday.

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