F-20 Home

Encyclopedia Astronautica

Head-Up Display

The Cid Home Page

Haplogroup W Home

The Head-Up Display selection went to General Electric's Binghamton, New York facility, as part as a package with the radar and engine. This was certainly one of the really odd choices. GE had no particular expertise in modern head up displays, its previous experience being the bizarre head-down reflective gunsight of the F-4E and the heads-up reflective gunsight for the F-5E. For the F-20 they were going to provide a conventional reflective HUD using a green raster display - the type of technology used in the popular video games of the time, Tank or Asteroids. This had a few technical advantages - excellent visibility in bright light, and incapable of being taken out by low power laser counterstrike weapons. But it looked decidedly old-fashioned compared to the panoramic, holographic head-up displays being developed by Marconi and Hughes for other aircraft. Replacing the GE HUD with a more modern Marconi unit became a priority soon after the comments on the F-20 started coming in from customer pilots who compared it unfavorably with other fighter displays. However, given Marconi's allegiance to General Dynamics and the F-16, discussions with Marconi had to take place in great secrecy. Taking a leaf from the black programs, a Northrop team consisting of a test pilot, an engineer, and a buyer flew to Phoenix under assumed names and using all cash transactions. They were taken through the back door of the Marconi facility and demonstrated the latest and greatest in HUD technology. The pilot flew an F-16 simulator to get an idea of the HUD in action (he was mightily impressed with the simulator, noting that when he flew through a barn he could see the countryside through the slats). Satisfied with the verification, a quiet procurement action resulted in GEC Marconi being selected to provide the HUD for the production F-20.

Back to the F-20A Tigershark Home Page
© Mark Wade, 1997 - 2006 except where otherwise noted.
Please contact us with any corrections, additions, or comments.
Google Site Search: