F-20 GI1003 was to be configured with the changes planned for production aircraft. The aircraft was being built on production tooling and was originally scheduled for completion in 1986. Changes included:
- Improved AN/APG-67(V) radar with larger antenna, providing greater detection and lock-on range in all modes. To accommodate the larger antenna, the radar was to be moved aft 6 inches in the nose and the forward fuselage would receive minor recontouring. Additional internal space was obtained by replacing the two M-39 guns of the previous F-20 configuration with a new Ford Aerospace 30 mm cannon. In look-up mode the radar range would be increased by about one-third, matching the F-16C performance of detecting a MiG-23 target at a range of 50 nm in a head-on, closing position. The larger antenna was to be flown in a modified General Electric flight-test aircraft before the GI1003 was completed. There was a controversy between Northrop and the subcontractor whether the radar would be tested on the C-54 testbed used previously by General Electric. Northrop wanted to have the new radar tested in a new, more expensive, modified business jet that could fly at speeds and altitudes more representative of the F-20.
- Increased internal fuel from 4400 to 5050 pounds, by using an integral fuel tank design. Northrop even considered a wet vertical stabilizer in an attempt to match the F-16C's range performance for the Koreans, but this was rejected as providing too marginal an increase for the change required. Instead the external fuel tanks would be increased in size to 275 gallons from the 230 gallons cleared previously for the aircraft.
- Improved F404 engine with thrust increased to 18,000 pounds in afterburner compared to the 17,000 pounds previously.
- Redesigned leading and trailing edge maneuvering flaps, driven at three points instead of a single point. Using electromagnetic actuators, they would be faster acting and capable of being automatically set at many more positions. This would be the first use of electromagentic actuators on a fighter aircraft, and go a long way toward making the F-20 the first 'all electric' fighter. The thrust and flap changes would result in a 2 deg/second increase in the F-20's turn rate, matching that of the F-16C.
GI1003 would validate all of these production changes, allowing first delivery of a production aircraft 24 months after contract signature. Machining of structural aluminum parts of the center fuselage of GI1003 was under way to the Northrop Production Development Center in Hawthorne, California. Skin had been attached to the vertical stabilizer and tooling was being prepared for the center fuselage section.
After the cancellation of F-20 development, attempts were still made to sell the F-20 to coproduction partners. In that case GI1003 would have been the first aircraft completed by the licensee. The customer would receive the GI1003 components already finished, but complete the final aircraft according to the customer configuration selected. GI1003 components were scrapped in the early 1990's.
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