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During the 1950s, the American Aircraft Company Northrop began developmental work into a simple and “low cost” fighter that would meet the needs of several NATO member air forces. The F-5 met the precise specification, it being a light single-seat fighter, small in size but extremely manoeuvrable and effective. It was relatively simple and cheap to produce and was operationally efficient. The initial version produced by Northrop, designated F-5 A “Freedom Fighter”, was fitted with two General Electric J85-GE-13 engines and could attain a maximum speed of 1,700 Km / h. Armed with two 20 mm. guns installed in the nose, the F-5 was a credible "multi-role" aircraft due to its weapons load capability, which could offer a wide range of offensive options for both air defence and ground attack missions. This multi-role aspect of the aircraft ensured its rapid take-up by many Air Forces.