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Author Topic: Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 and EMD F-23  (Read 464689 times)

Offline donnage99

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Re: Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 and EMD F-23
« Reply #240 on: November 14, 2008, 02:28:55 pm »
as Paul Metz once said - not exact citation, but factually close -'we <at Northrop> still can't understand the reasons why we lost' Well, I suppose they were asking, but didn't get answers, yeah? And they were much more appropriate people to get the answers than we are.

There are many sources on the net discussing the possible reasons, many opinions coming from people who was directly involved (check old rec.aviation board archives for example) I don't feel we need make reposting these old sceletons here. In short, possible reasons could be proposed and expected by decision makers R&D costs, manufacturing base and flyaway costs, comparison of EMD and FSD configurations (you know how F-22 does look like and how it differs fron YF-22, now, what about how much would cost remake YF-23 to EMD? to NATF? May be, they just saw NATF-23 and took a decision momentally? Take into consideration current companies position on the market - who needs contract? Who just got a contract and have problems with performing it nice (Northrop B-2 RCS = not as advertised, MDA ATA = very bad). Lockheed needs some white job, it has almost nothing in nearest future to do. Etc, etc.
Wait.....we were talking about engine flame-out right? :D

Anyway, did Paul Metz really said that?  Isn't it the rule that they suppose to know why they lost? The evaluation team must justify their decision to the competitor, and the competitor has the right to file a contest to the decision.  If Northrop didn't recieve the information why they lost, they would have sued the Air Force already, ain't it?

I'm pretty sure they know.  And it's no secret why they lost (though the details, as we all know, are still not released).  Article released in 1991 where then president of Mcdonnell Douglas commented on why it lost, and also a similar perspective from a senior Air Force official:

Quote
COPYRIGHT 1991 Access Intelligence, LLC.

MCDONNELL PRESIDENT SAYS F-23 TEAM STRAYED FROM ATF PROPOSAL

If there is one important lesson the McDonnell Douglas Corp. learned from the Air Force Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) competition, it is that the prototype aircraft must match the proposal offered to the service, according to company President Gerzy Johnston.

Both the aircraft and the content of the proposal get evaluated by the customer, Johnston said in an interview with Defense Daily.

"In the future we will pay a lot more attention to our proposal documentation. We relearned a lesson that often is one you have to re-learn (and that) is what is in the proposal gets evaluated ... I think we could probably have done a better job there," he said.

Indeed, a senior Air Force official told Defense Daily late last month that the service placed greater emphasis on the competing contractor teams' ability to perform as advertised than on the performance of their respective air vehicle prototypes during the fly-off (Defense Daily, May 1). "We're looking for confidence in the proposals," the official said at that time.

On April 23 the Air Force selected the Lockheed/Boeing/General Dynamics F-22 team over the Northrop/McDonnell Douglas F-23 team to develop the ATF (Defense Daily, April 24).

One example where the F-23 team was not strong in its proposal was software development, Johnston said. "For instance, we believe we were very good on software development. We just had a review and talked about the discipline in that area as being one of the best. And yet in the proposal we did not write it well enough to have that kind of evaluation come out that we were strong in that area."

Johnston said he could not be specific about various aspects of the F-23 team's proposal due to its sensitive nature.

Online flateric

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Re: Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 and EMD F-23
« Reply #241 on: November 14, 2008, 02:48:19 pm »
Good point here, hands off - phrase 'emphasis on the competing contractor teams' ability to perform as advertised than on the performance of their respective air vehicle prototypes during the fly-off' I've seen many times. Some Kafkian style words - you can think that you have underperformed in every aspect you suspect - and for every question if it was a fault, you'll receive an answer 'yes, it was where you was weaky!' For example, for this MDC guy weak point was, surely, software.

So you see yourself that 'engine flameouts' were not the thing that worried 'em much.=)

Regarding Metz, it's not a joke - he was saying it much later than April, 1991 at Society of Experimental Test Pilots meeting (he was a fellow and even president of Society for some time).

I also remember Bill Sweetman description of 'green/yellow/red lights' points system of decision-making process during ATF competition...AFAIR, it was in his Lockheed Stealth.

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Offline lantinian

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Re: Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 and EMD F-23
« Reply #242 on: November 14, 2008, 04:14:59 pm »
Quote
I also remember Bill Sweetman description of 'green/yellow/red lights' points system of decision-making process during ATF competition.

That kind of system for score points might be very easy to read but its damn discriminatory in terms of best overall aircraft effectiveness. While it shows easily how actuals performance differed from the requirements, it does not show which combination of colors gave the best aircraft for the mission

So:
Red - fails requirements
Yellow - narrowly meets or fails requirements
Green - exceeds requirements.

There was also a Blue color for considerably exceeding requirements.

It was know that both planes met or exceeded every requirements. So, secretary Donald Rice, saw a lot of green and some blue colors but no red or even green. But we also know that the F-22A proposal was slightly less expensive. If both  planes seams to have similar color ratings and one was less expensive, it not difficult to see, why he picked the YF-22.
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Offline donnage99

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Re: Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 and EMD F-23
« Reply #243 on: November 14, 2008, 04:50:24 pm »
Flateric, what do you mean by "good point here, hands off?" ???

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Re: Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 and EMD F-23
« Reply #244 on: November 14, 2008, 05:22:17 pm »
'well said'
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stealth, more than a few of them truly technically ignorant and proud of it." Sherm Mullin, Skunk Works

Offline airrocket

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Re: Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 and EMD F-23
« Reply #245 on: November 15, 2008, 09:14:14 am »
MCD YF-23 teamed with Northrop at the request of the air force. Which is a twist of irony as Northrop involvement was later mentioned as a reason the proposal did not win. Hmmmm.....strange games.

Many claim thrust vectoring won the day for the YF-22. Yet the YF-23 was more stealthy, longer range, faster and had features that provided great maneuverability? My personal choice on looks and modeling appeal is the YF-23 Black Widow II.



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Offline F-14D

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Re: Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 and EMD F-23
« Reply #246 on: November 15, 2008, 11:34:18 am »
Quote
I also remember Bill Sweetman description of 'green/yellow/red lights' points system of decision-making process during ATF competition.

That kind of system for score points might be very easy to read but its damn discriminatory in terms of best overall aircraft effectiveness. While it shows easily how actuals performance differed from the requirements, it does not show which combination of colors gave the best aircraft for the mission

So:
Red - fails requirements
Yellow - narrowly meets or fails requirements
Green - exceeds requirements.

There was also a Blue color for considerably exceeding requirements.

It was know that both planes met or exceeded every requirements. So, secretary Donald Rice, saw a lot of green and some blue colors but no red or even green. But we also know that the F-22A proposal was slightly less expensive. If both  planes seams to have similar color ratings and one was less expensive, it not difficult to see, why he picked the YF-22.

This description of the selection process is about right.  Keep in mind that under this methodology (which was publicly announced in the solicitation), as long as the aircraft met requirements, the Secretary of the Air Force could use any criteria he wanted to make the selection.  That's no doubt why Northrop said they never understood why they lost.  The criteria for selection basically was, "Whatever we want", so the only thing AF really had to disclose was, "We wanted this one".    The consensus by both amateurs and experts ever since was that the Northrop/MDD aircraft was better in almost all performance areas.  However, since the YF-22 also met or exceeded the requirements, even if it is true that it didn't do it to the level that the YF-23 design did, AF was free to pick it.  Note that AF never said it was the lower cost, and under the announced selection rules it wasn't required to select the lower cost proposal. 

At the time, the public reason was that Lockheed's documentation was better.  Related to this was supposedly some concern that Northrop/MDD  did not document well enough that they would actually be able to build a large single piece section that was a key component of their design.  The fact that in reality they actually did it on production tooling was not seen as important as that they show on paper that they could in theory do it.     Some after the fact speculation pointed to the thrust vectoring of the YF-22 as a deciding factor.  It should be noted that although that gave the YF-22 an advantage at the low speed edge of the envelope, the YF-23 also exceeded all the maneuverability requirements in the solicitation. 


I don't think it's fair to blame Northrop for the B-2, that was such a major jump into new technology, and the major change to mission profile that AF imposed in the mid '80s were big contributors.  In the case of the ATA, GD was really in charge in a marriage forced by DoD.  MDD (who actually had experience in building carrier aircraft) tried to warn the team what was going on, but was not listend to.   Keep in mind also that one of the criteria both companies were to meet was easier to maintain stealth (unlike that of the F-117 and B-2).   It has been repeatedly reported that maintain the stealth on the F-22 has required a lot more maintenance effort than expected. 


It's no secret that the powers-that-be at the AF Washington level were more comfortable with Lockheed than Northrop.  It's also been said that Northrop/MDD built the plane that AF said it wanted while Lockheed, being more experienced in dealing with The Way Things Work, built the plane AF really wanted.   
« Last Edit: November 15, 2008, 11:38:22 am by F-14D »

Offline donnage99

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Re: Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 and EMD F-23
« Reply #247 on: November 15, 2008, 12:41:51 pm »
I doubt thrust vectoring was a reason it lost.  If it was a significant factor, it would have been included in the requirement, but it did not.  Who wants low speed maneuverability like airshow cobra for a supercruise aircraft? And the AF already said that both did not have significant advantages over one another, which mean that the yf-22's agility was not better than yf-23 by significant number. 

I also doubt that the b-2 cost overrun was another factor contributes to Northrop's loss.  The reason for its cost overrun was the objectives and requirements of the program changed during the development phrase.  The Air Force was aware of this. 

In the end, I think it was  clear that everybody saw that the Cold War was coming to an end.  Congress was about to sweep in to cut budget and programs that seemed to go nowhere.  The open wound of the Navy in their ATA just 3 months before that was a stalk reminder to Air Force that innovative was only great when you could deliver it.  The ATA was a more needed and justified program than the ATF program, yet it got cancelled.  Its cancellation, I think, really influenced the Air Force's decision.  You have the choice to pick an innovative and risky design that the developers weren't really doing a good job at presenting to you how they gonna tackle the challenges of the development phrase in a long run.  On the other side, you have less innovative prototype, yet closer to what has been advertised, good presentations in the long run.  Then you ask yourself, which one would less likely to face cancellation from Congress or the Secretary of Defense years from now? I think the answer is obvious.  It reflects in their comment that the decision was based on the confidence that the selected team could deliver.

Though I always wanted the Air Force to choose yf-23 (just for the damn fact that it didn't even have to fight and just showed up at the battle and scare the crap out of the enemy with its futuristic and downright badass look B)), I think in their position, they made the right choice.  The odds were just too much for a front line fighter that didn't seem to justify its existence with Congress.  If they had chosen the yf-23, I doubt that we could see its operational today.  Not because Northrop couldn't deliver it (if you did build a prototype, you are gonna deliver it, though cost overrun is an open question) but that Congress would have cut it before it could deliver.  Just look at the f-22 cost overrun and late delivery.  With such a good presentation and clearer management, it still faced tremendous difficulties (especially with Congress keep leeching money off from the program).  And most of these difficulties were in the softwares, where Gerzy Johnston said his Northrop/MDD team just talked about it and decided it's one of their best side ::)
« Last Edit: November 15, 2008, 03:38:55 pm by donnage99 »

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Re: Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 and EMD F-23
« Reply #248 on: November 15, 2008, 12:54:45 pm »
B-2 cost overruns were not only sole problems those days. They were also trying hard to meet specific RCS parameters that did not fit to what they were expecting. But this is sidebar note...
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stealth, more than a few of them truly technically ignorant and proud of it." Sherm Mullin, Skunk Works

Offline F-14D

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Re: Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 and EMD F-23
« Reply #249 on: November 16, 2008, 06:21:44 pm »
I doubt thrust vectoring was a reason it lost.  If it was a significant factor, it would have been included in the requirement, but it did not.  Who wants low speed maneuverability like airshow cobra for a supercruise aircraft? And the AF already said that both did not have significant advantages over one another, which mean that the yf-22's agility was not better than yf-23 by significant number. 

I also doubt that the b-2 cost overrun was another factor contributes to Northrop's loss.  The reason for its cost overrun was the objectives and requirements of the program changed during the development phrase.  The Air Force was aware of this. 

In the end, I think it was  clear that everybody saw that the Cold War was coming to an end.  Congress was about to sweep in to cut budget and programs that seemed to go nowhere.  The open wound of the Navy in their ATA just 3 months before that was a stalk reminder to Air Force that innovative was only great when you could deliver it.  The ATA was a more needed and justified program than the ATF program, yet it got cancelled.  Its cancellation, I think, really influenced the Air Force's decision.  You have the choice to pick an innovative and risky design that the developers weren't really doing a good job at presenting to you how they gonna tackle the challenges of the development phrase in a long run.  On the other side, you have less innovative prototype, yet closer to what has been advertised, good presentations in the long run.  Then you ask yourself, which one would less likely to face cancellation from Congress or the Secretary of Defense years from now? I think the answer is obvious.  It reflects in their comment that the decision was based on the confidence that the selected team could deliver.

Though I always wanted the Air Force to choose yf-23 (just for the damn fact that it didn't even have to fight and just showed up at the battle and scare the crap out of the enemy with its futuristic and downright badass look B)), I think in their position, they made the right choice.  The odds were just too much for a front line fighter that didn't seem to justify its existence with Congress.  If they had chosen the yf-23, I doubt that we could see its operational today.  Not because Northrop couldn't deliver it (if you did build a prototype, you are gonna deliver it, though cost overrun is an open question) but that Congress would have cut it before it could deliver.  Just look at the f-22 cost overrun and late delivery.  With such a good presentation and clearer management, it still faced tremendous difficulties (especially with Congress keep leeching money off from the program).  And most of these difficulties were in the softwares, where Gerzy Johnston said his Northrop/MDD team just talked about it and decided it's one of their best side ::)


Although this issue has been hashed around before, I suspect we'll never know the whole "inside" story and it'll never really be settled.  For my part, I don't think fear of innovation or the ATA debacle played that strong a role in the decision.   From the contractor point of view, a team that lacked knowledge  in stealth matters, and a lead member of the team who had no carrier experience and wasn't very open to input from the team member that had said experience had a big part in the collapse of that program.  However, IMHO, the biggest cause of the failure was caused by the Government itself.  USAF would be well aware of this, as they were a significant contributor to the situation, and knew it wouldn't be a factor in ATF. 

Although both proposals involved significant elements of risk, we can't assume that the Lockheed proposal was significantly less risky.  For one thing, their method of aerodynamic control was more complex and involved whole new ways of doing things, whereas the Northrop/MDD method was basically an enhanced  scale-up of the well-proven techniques in the two companies' F/A-18.   Remember it was Lockheed's flight control system that caused the crash of the prototype.   Also, don't forget that Lockheed had major problems with their original design as a result of which AF slowed the whole program down so Lockheed could catch up, so their design as finally bid had less "history".  To their credit, of course, Lockheed managed to produce one heck of an airplane. 

Although the F-22 program experienced overruns and late delivery, a good portion (though by no means all) of that was due to intentional Congressional and Administration stretchouts in the 1990s. 

To my mind, and as was speculated even well before the award was announced, what it really came down to was that USAF felt more comfortable with, and as long as their proposal met the basic requirements, always wanted Lockheed to win.   The selection criteria permitted just that, which was one reason there was no protest.   We got a good plane.  It can be argued (as I would) that it was not the best plane, but it was good enough.  It met all the requirements USAF announced it wanted for itself, and given how the solicitation was written and the evaluation criteria that everyone knew about, they made a legitimate award.   

« Last Edit: November 16, 2008, 10:18:04 pm by F-14D »

Offline Sundog

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Re: Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 and EMD F-23
« Reply #250 on: November 16, 2008, 08:26:52 pm »
One can't discount "management" approaches and how they interact with the buyer. I had a friend involved from the NATF perspective and he said he was turned off by Northrop/McDD's arrogance. Of course, he didn't think much of their NATF design, although he never told me what it's configuration was; the only thing I know of the configuration is what's been written in this thread.

I found his attitude shocking, simply because, from an aesthetic POV, I found the YF-23 great looking, but the YF-22 butt ugly. Of course, at the time, I didn't know how radically different the Northrop/McDD NATF configuration differed from the YF-23 prototype.

Also, at the time, Dick Cheney was the secretary of defense and his wife, Lynn Cheney, had been on the board of Lockheed Martin. I don't know if she was at the time of the down select, but you can't tell me she still didn't have friends on the board at that time and many decisions like this are political by their very nature. I'm not saying that would be a sole reason, but it would definitely be a factor.

Also, at the time, it was said that what gave the YF-22 the edge in the down select was it's naval variant was better, but then the NATF was canceled less than one month after the down select. So, I shall ever remain a skeptic about the official reasons given for the choice. I've never asked my friend about it, since I doubt anything he really knew could potentially be classified and I haven't heard from him in years anyway.

Offline Spring

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Re: Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 and EMD F-23
« Reply #251 on: November 17, 2008, 07:06:13 am »
The USAF has a tradition  (and a policy, actually) with the different aircraft manufactures, they always will say "both were great aircrafts, so it was a close competition"

So the "both,YF-23/22 were close in performance" claim is nothing to be surprised

On the ATF test both airframes just reached a supercruiser of M1.2 (a great confussion with max speed with supercruiser achieved, BTW), the yf-22 achieved M1.6 just in mid 90's, with ATF's max speeds arround M1.5/1.6, in the competition both airframes just reached 7 gs max, and actually many, many of the final ATF requirements were "relaxed", including the stealth requirements, these goals were lowered just after they found it was not possible to reach the original ones.

Remember the yf-23 needed a serious intake redesign ,close actually to the  rounded intake of the original non-stealthy design, still a long road to cross from the yf's to the operational airframes, this is a radical modification, most likely due losses of engine output power, for such modification, something definitivelly did not reach the requirements.

Quote
Remember it was Lockheed's flight control system that caused the crash of the prototype

I agree, the YF-22 was both inertial and aerodynamic nonstable, while the YF-23 had a FBW "forced control" to avoid pitch/roll, but was in general terms more stable, in general the F-22 needed a more complicated FBW system.


Quote
USAF felt more comfortable with, and as long as their proposal met the basic requirements, always wanted Lockheed to win.   The selection criteria permitted just that

The USAF does not choice the "less technologically risky" airframe the YF-16/17 is a clear example of that, or wanted Lockheed to win, a claim that just dosnt have any support, but you say it so easely!

For the ATF competitiom, just the best airframe was selected
« Last Edit: November 17, 2008, 08:16:48 am by Spring »
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Offline lantinian

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Re: Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 and EMD F-23
« Reply #252 on: November 17, 2008, 07:38:18 am »
I cannot agree more with F-14D point of view.

I also remember reading the F-22 EMD proposal was 21,000 pages long and they flew the documentation with a special plane.

Anybody has an idea how smaller the F-23 EMD proposal was?

If Dem/Val flying hours comparison is good analog, the F-22 based proposal might have had 50% more detailed management plan.

With the ATF being a high risk - high cost program, a clearly superior looking management plan plus lower acquisition cost must have been a major factor for the choice.

F-22 probably got blue marks for its management plan while F-23 got only green.
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Re: Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 and EMD F-23
« Reply #253 on: November 17, 2008, 07:50:48 am »
Quote
Although the F-22 program experienced overruns and late delivery, a good portion (though by no means all) of that was due to intentional Congressional and Administration stretchouts in the 1990s.

I would not blame the congress or goverment at all.

From a original goal of 12000kg empty weight, to a real weight of 19700kg (!), the things went very complicated -and very wrong- , actually would have been better to restart the program with another competition, cancelling the original one, sadly the PR campaign and Lockheed contacts kept alive that withe elephant, the problem is that most likely the yf-23 would have been even worse.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2008, 07:52:19 am by Spring »
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Re: Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 and EMD F-23
« Reply #254 on: November 17, 2008, 08:15:52 am »
If you will remember how much did competitors invest their own funds in Senior Sky, restart would be very *cold*.
AFAIR, Northrop VP Jomes said that they will never ever play such games with USAF - because they just couldn't afford another one like this (Northrop team have invested more than billion of own funds, and those were not your today's dollars).
"There are many disbelievers in
stealth, more than a few of them truly technically ignorant and proud of it." Sherm Mullin, Skunk Works