the mid-1950s, Northrop started design of the N-156
lightweight fighter hoping to meet a requirement for an inexpensive
aircraft for the US military's Miliatary Assistance Program (MAP).
The two-seat trainer version was approved
first. Designated the T-38 Talon, the prototype first flew on
10 April 1959. The prototype single-seat fighter first flew on
30 July of the same year.
The F-5 Freedom Fighter was improved with more
powerful J85-GE-21 turbojets and renamed the Tiger II.
Production ended in 1987.
The T-38 has one of the best safety records of any supersonic
aircraft in U.S. Air Force service. NASA acquired a number of Talons for use as flight readiness trainers