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The Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 Black Widow II is an American aircraft that competed with the Lockheed Martin F/A-22 Raptor

YF-23 Black Widow II

to be the new 5th generation fighter of the USAF and regarded as the sister fighter of the same.

The YF-22 and the YF-23 competed to become the first 5th Generation fighter. The YF-22 won, owing to its higher maneuverability and speed. There are many rumors that the YF-23 was actually better in many areas of performance, and the YF-22 was only chosen for it's supposedly lower price. The YF-23 had not any operators, in 2004 the Northrop proposed a bomber version of the YF-23 competing with the projects of the FB-22 Strike Raptor and the B-1R, but the project probably was cancelled, as the USAF required a bomber with longer range, however, as the FB-22 still is in the competition, maybe the FB-23 could still be in the competition.

Description[edit | edit source]

The YF-23A was Northrop and McDonnell Douglas proposal for the US government's Advanced Tactical Fighter program, whose objective was to create an aircraft designed to replace the legendary F-15 Eagle. It's main rival was the Boeing/Lockheed-manufactured YF-22 Lightning II (which evolved into the F-22 Raptor.)

In terms of raw performance, the YF-23 was superior to the Lightning II in terms of speed & stealth, as well as

YF-23 Flying over desert

operational range. Furthermore, the YF-23 had a lower production cost due to the unneeded use of tankers and parts from other aircraft (i.e. F/A-18, F-15 and B-2 Spirit; said aircraft served as the YF-23A's inspiration. The F-22 won however, due to its faster super cruise and better maneuverability. Two YF-23As were developed for the ATF program, both of which sported different engines & paintwork: the black PAV-1 (Black Widow II, Pratt & Whitney YF119) and the gray PAV-2 (Gray Ghost, Pratt & Whitney YF120.) Of note is the fact that the Black Widow II's namesake comes from the P-61 Black Widow aircraft from WWII.

The company decided to use elements from the F/A-18 Hornet and the B-2 Spirit in the YF-23's mainframe (the V-tail coming from the former.) In order to reduce the development costs, Northrop employed parts from other aircraft in the YF-23's design, such as F-15 Eagle nosewheel units and cockpits (respectively, from the F-15C & F-15E Strike Eagle.) In terms of performance, the YF-23A was superior to the Lightning II in terms of speed (this is actually not proven because they had the same engines and compareable drag and weights), operational range & stealth capabilities, although the Lightning II had the upper hand in terms of maneouverability, stability in flight, cockpit technology and missile numbers the YF-23 also had many technical problems on its weapon bays . The US government chose the YF-22 as the ATF project's winner. Rumors state that Lockheed's industrial performance was a vital factor in the Pentagon's decision to select the YF-22 over the YF-23: Northrop had financial problems caused by the B-2 Spirit & A-12 Avenger II bombers (the latter of which would be cancelled due to high costs.)

So did the Airforce take the 2nd best plane ?[edit | edit source]

Because its said that the YF-23 was faster, stealthier and it had a greater range but it was only less agile than the YF-22 why didn't the Airforce take it ? The answer to that is simple because the YF-23 wasn't faster with the same engines and compreable weights, it has a top speed of 1650 mph and the F-22 the same, because the F-22s top speed remains classified and the F-22 that is now in service has changes in terms of stealth and radar power that makes it better than the YF-23 of the 90´s. Another reason is that the YF-22´s weapon bays were bigger and the weapon bays of the YF-23 had technical problems and they didn't work well enough. The only real advantage the YF-23 had to the YF-22 was stealth and range.

Aircraft on display[edit | edit source]

Both airf

Front view of the YF-23

rames remained in storage until mid-1996, when the aircraft were transferred to museums.

  • YF-23A PAV-1 (s/n 87-0800) is now on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. The aircraft was recently put on display following restoration and is located in the Museum's Research and Development hangar.
  • Aircraft PAV-2 (s/n 87-0801) was on exhibit at the Western Museum of Flight in Hawthorne, California. In 2004, it was loaned to Northrop Grumman and used for display purposes. The aircraft has returned to the museum's new location at Torrance Airport, Torrance, CA.

In 2004, Norhrop proposed a Black Widow II-inspired design for the USAF's "Regional Bomber" program, along with other proposed aircraft such as the B-1R missile truck and the FB-22.

Specifications[edit | edit source]

General Characteristics[edit | edit source]

  • Crew: 1 (pilot)
  • Length: 67 ft 5 in (20.60 m)
  • Wingspan: 43 ft 7 in (13.30 m)
  • Height: 13 ft 11 in (4.30 m)
  • Wing area: 900 ft² (88 m²)

    YF-23 flying alongside the YF-22

  • Empty weight: 29,000 lb (14,970 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 51,320 lb (23,327 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 62,000 lb (29,000 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2× General Electric YF120 or Pratt & Whitney YF119, 35,000 lbf (156 kN) each

Performance[edit | edit source]

  • Maximum speed: 1650 mph (2124 km/h published by the US Air Force)
  • Cruise speed: Mach 1.6 (1,060 mph, 1,706 km/h) supercruise at altitude
  • Range: over 2,790 mi (over 4,500 km)
  • Combat radius: 865–920 mi (750–800 nmi, 1,380–1480 km)
  • Service ceiling: 65,000 ft (19,800 m)
  • Wing loading: 54 lb/ft² (265 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 1.36

Armament[edit | edit source]

None as tested but provisions made for

See also[edit | edit source]

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