F-19: artists impressions of the Stealth Fighter

Stargazer2006

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JimK said:
It repeats in text and drawing the story that the airplane should fit inside a C-5.
I do not know if I told the story here before, but back in the days when I was a language instructor in the French Armée de l'Air (as part of my national service) our students ranked from young aspiring student warrant officer up to colonels. At night, after supper at the mess, we would often go for a drink with some of our students and after a couple of glasses, tongues would loosen and we would hear the occasional anecdote from a former presidential pilot or a Normandie-Niemen squadron leader. That was in 1988-89, about the time when the F-117 was first revealed.

One of the officers told us that during a visit on a Spanish Air Force base during the Libyan crisis, he had witnessed some cloaked aircraft being unloaded from a C-5 Galaxy (that would have been 1986). The conclusion that he was able to draw from the episode, his own questions to his Spanish colleagues and how it fitted in the chronology of events was that initially the US had deployed a stealth fighter in the Mediterranean for use against Khadafi's MiGs (so as to end the matter quickly and safely by benefitting from the effect of surprise) but that it was later decided to go for F-14s instead. When the F-117 was revealed in 1989, he believed that this was proof that his story was correct... Now of course we all know that the F-117 is NOT a fighter and would be terrible in any air combat situation, and besides an F-117 wouldn't easily fit in a Galaxy... So what secret aircraft, capable of swift air-to-air combat and fitting within a C-5, did he see exactly?

On a side note (not related to the stealth fighter) another officer claimed that during these operations, American aircraft sent from England, which theoretically had to go around the Iberic Peninsula (i.e. Spain and Portugal, since non-NATO aligned France would not allow for them to fly over French territory) had in fact been allowed unofficially by the French government to fly over the Western Pyrenees at night. Yet another officer claimed that some French bases in the Southern Alps area had routinely let American aircraft transit during these events. It's always difficult to prove such things of course, but when enough separate testimonies add up, they can end up giving a pretty coherent picture.
 

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Very interesting indeed - thanks for sharing! -SP
 

quellish

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Skyblazer said:
One of the officers told us that during a visit on a Spanish Air Force base during the Libyan crisis, he had witnessed some cloaked aircraft being unloaded from a C-5 Galaxy (that would have been 1986). The conclusion that he was able to draw from the episode, his own questions to his Spanish colleagues and how it fitted in the chronology of events was that initially the US had deployed a stealth fighter in the Mediterranean for use against Khadafi's MiGs (so as to end the matter quickly and safely by benefitting from the effect of surprise) but that it was later decided to go for F-14s instead. When the F-117 was revealed in 1989, he believed that this was proof that his story was correct... Now of course we all know that the F-117 is NOT a fighter and would be terrible in any air combat situation, and besides an F-117 wouldn't easily fit in a Galaxy... So what secret aircraft, capable of swift air-to-air combat and fitting within a C-5, did he see exactly?

EL DORADO CANYON was to be the combat debut of the F-117, but it was decided not to use it at the last minute. According to persons who were with the program at the time, no aircraft left the US to participate. It's certainly possible that the C-5 was carrying support equipment for the F-117s, or that it was carrying something else.
 

Stargazer2006

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quellish said:
EL DORADO CANYON was to be the combat debut of the F-117, but it was decided not to use it at the last minute. According to persons who were with the program at the time, no aircraft left the US to participate. It's certainly possible that the C-5 was carrying support equipment for the F-117s, or that it was carrying something else.
Thanks quellish. Following your comment I checked on the web for more info and the story of how they withdrew from using the F-117 at the last minute confirms the story I'd heard. I also found that what I'd been told back in the early 1990s about the use of F-117s in Panama has since been officially acknowledged, which I wasn't aware of.
 

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ISTR AW&ST reported the use of the F-117 in Panama, but I may be remembering wrong.
 

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famvburg said:
ISTR AW&ST reported the use of the F-117 in Panama, but I may be remembering wrong.
I also read about the F-117 being used in Panama. Apparently 2,000lb unguided bombs were employed.
 

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http://www.f-117a.com/Panama.html

The Panama mission (JUST CAUSE) has been public for a long time.
 

Stargazer2006

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PaulMM (Overscan) said:
http://www.f-117a.com/Panama.html

The Panama mission (JUST CAUSE) has been public for a long time.
I'm not disputing the fact that it's been known and discussed for a while. I was talking of its being officially acknowledged; this 2003 page definitely was not official!
 

Stargazer2006

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Steve Pace said:
It was world news on TV when it happened. -SP
I don't live in the US so I don't know exactly what was shown or said on TV back then.
However I vividly remember all commentators and journalists both on TV and in the press back in 1991 describing the F-117A's sorties over Baghdad as the type's first operational use.
 

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I'm afraid they were wrong. To the best of my recollection both ABC World News and CNN in the U.S. covered F-117s in Panama. -SP
 

Stargazer2006

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Oh, okay. Can a mod perhaps remove this string of useless posts on Panama? I'll edit my initial post accordingly. Thanks.
 

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I have a hard time believing in the f 19 stealth fighter. For starters the USA would not need to send super secret invisible fighters to deal with Libyan migs. They could have sent over some t6 texans with 50 caliber guns for that job!

Secondly work backwards the timing for when the program was started to when the hypothetical airplane entered service. LOCKHEED still couldn't design the atf to be an effective fighter and Northrop was still experimenting with curved shaping.
 

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Oddly enough, the US Air Force National Museum lists the "Lockheed F-19 CSIRS" in its "Aircraft Fighter Designations."
http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/research/aircraft/fighter/index.asp

Second column, fifth from the bottom.

Maybe a joke, someone entered the info not realizing the designation wasn't real, or maybe F-19 was used during development of the F-117A?

The picture is, I believe the CSIRS by Mark Kopp. How accurate the aircraft is that reflects the CSIRS study aircraft concept I don't know.
 

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Stargazer2006

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Considering the style of the artwork and the company's practice at that time of incorporating the design number into the paintings, I think it is a safe bet to assume that this image depicts the Northrop N363. This number is perfectly coherent with the Northrop design number chronology, placing it in 1983.

However, the would-be F-19 demonstrator, if ever built, would have been prior to that, presumably around 1981, which has led some to believe that it may have been related to another Northrop design, the smaller scale THAP demonstrator, rather than the full-scale operational CSIRS in the picture. But then a whole lot of theories and conjectures have been associated to this whole matter, so that in the end it's hard to know what to think.

One thing I know for a fact:
>> The F-19, whether built or merely planned, could NOT be the F-117A for the simple reason that the latter was always meant as a pure low altitude ground attack platform, not a fighter. The unofficial secret F-"century" series types could be anything: attack, fighter, recce... but the regular F- series was for fighters/pursuits/interceptors or whatever.

One thing I have seen (even saved, but then lost in a computer crash):
>> In the early 2000s, the webpage of an industry subcontractor (whose name I forgot) listed the projects they had been involved in, and for each of them, provided a small recap of the aircraft's performances. Surprisingly, they listed the "F-19" as a program they'd worked on and provided a whole set of specs that was clearly for a fighter and had nothing to do with the F-117A. Now why would they do that? I could not say.

One thing I very much believe:
>> With stealth being completely new and unproven, the USAF likely didn't put all their eggs in one basket and must have considered several configurations for testing and possibly several companies each working on a different type of design. Perhaps there were only Have Blue and Tacit Blue, perhaps there could have been a couple more test planes in-between that are still unheard of. But of course if there ever were such planes, they probably were failures and/or crashed, otherwise we'd have heard about them and they'd be in a museum by now. They might also have been company-financed prototypes, hence the lack of obligation by the DoD to go public about them and the lack of desire from the companies to brag about failed projects.
 

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http://www.ausairpower.net/Mark-Kopp-Art.html

Scroll halfway down the memorial page for the B&W and color versions of the illustration; listed as "speculative". The art, by Australian Mark Kopp (brother to Dr. Carlo Kopp) does not appear to have any connection to Northrop.
 

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Considering the f-20 first rolled out in 1981 then the 19 would have to precede even that date. Work the timeline backwards, the number of years to develop a fighter, and the 19 don't exist. It would have to have preceded have blue and yet been so fantastic that it's stealth secrets were relevant past the revelation of the 117 and after the atf and b2 were rolled out.


The 117 when it was still secret had a trail even a blind man could see. There is none for a stealth fighter. Now the "manta" does have a trail not to mention being caught on camera at red flag in the late 80s. Same for the aurora. I think it was 1987 when national news agencies were reporting its first flights. Then mysteriously like Roswell the next day it fell down a black hole and was never heard again in the news.
 

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Purely from a tri-service designation perspective I think it's possible there was a prototype or small run aircraft like the yf-17/yf-20. It may well have been an exciting stealthy fighter aircraft but that doesn't mean it was operational aircraft or that there was a fleet of them.
 

Stargazer2006

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Allow me to differ tacitblue, in that the time of allocation of a designation has nothing to do with the actual time of construction or flight of a prototype.
I'm sure we can find many examples in the history of U.S. designations where the type didn't fly until quite a few years after it was designated.
If the type was technologically challenging or complicated to develop, then logically it would fly at a later date than types designated after it.
Think of the F-103 for instance. If the project had been carried through, it would have flown waaaay after the F-104, right? So your argument doesn't hold water, here, I'm afraid.
 

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F-14 preceded the F-15 which preceded the F-16/17 which preceded the F-18 which preceded the F-20 which preceded the F-22/23.
 

Stargazer2006

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tacitblue said:
F-14 preceded the F-15 which preceded the F-16/17 which preceded the F-18 which preceded the F-20 which preceded the F-22/23.
 

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Or, just possibly, -19 was skipped so Northrop could get F-20 for the Tigershark.
 

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PaulMM (Overscan) said:
Or, just possibly, -19 was skipped so Northrop could get F-20 for the Tigershark.
Please don't take away their toys.
 

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Skyblazer said:
tacitblue said:
F-14 preceded the F-15 which preceded the F-16/17 which preceded the F-18 which preceded the F-20 which preceded the F-22/23.

Just demonstrating the lunacy of the statement above my diatribe with facts.
 

Stargazer2006

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The Loral/Northrop F-19 Specter may or may not have been considered for prototyping at some point...

One thing for sure though, the design must have been a little more than PR/disinformation material since it featured prominently as an example of a fighter design with desirable stealth characteristics in a once top secret CIA report that was partially "sanitized" for public release...

As for the elusive "TR-3/Black Manta" being the same as "CSIRS", you may find this excerpt from the same CIA document (dated 1985) worthy of interest. It states that CSIRS was in effect simply what was later known as the F-117. This seems to be confirmed by the second document which calls it "F-19" in quotes for lack of a better designation.

The Lockheed Company, using the experience it gained in designing its SR-71 and A-11 aircraft, is at present building 29 reconnaissance aircraft which have received the designation CSIRS. Their construction is being financed by the project for designing the future ATF fighter aircraft.
http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB443/docs/area51_43.PDF
http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB443/docs/area51_45.PDF
 

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quellish

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It's very likely that this document was just repeating what was being reported in the popular press at the time.
 

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Skyblazer said:
The Loral/Northrop F-19 Specter may or may not have been considered for prototyping at some point...

One thing for sure though, the design must have been a little more than PR/disinformation material since it featured prominently as an example of a fighter design with desirable stealth characteristics in a once top secret CIA report that was partially "sanitized" for public release...

As for the elusive "TR-3/Black Manta" being the same as "CSIRS", you may find this excerpt from the same CIA document (dated 1985) worthy of interest. It states that CSIRS was in effect simply what was later known as the F-117. This seems to be confirmed by the second document which calls it "F-19" in quotes for lack of a better designation.

The Lockheed Company, using the experience it gained in designing its SR-71 and A-11 aircraft, is at present building 29 reconnaissance aircraft which have received the designation CSIRS. Their construction is being financed by the project for designing the future ATF fighter aircraft.
http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB443/docs/area51_43.PDF
http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB443/docs/area51_45.PDF
Disagree on this.

1) There is no evidence there was such a design beyond a concept design for a Loral advert.

2) It fundamentally fails to adhere to the rules of stealth.

3) The report you link to is about Soviet Stealth. It doesn't disclose anything about US stealth beyond public speculation of the time. In lieu of a picture of the F-117 or ATB, which could not be included due to its classification, and which the report authors probably had no access to, they used a well known image instead.
 

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Paul brings up a very important point - a CIA analyst preparing a largely open-source intelligence report on Soviet Stealth would almost certainly not have access to or a "Need to Know" about the configuration of the F-117. That's not how classification rules work.



Skyblazer said:
As for the elusive "TR-3/Black Manta" being the same as "CSIRS", you may find this excerpt from the same CIA document (dated 1985) worthy of interest. It states that CSIRS was in effect simply what was later known as the F-117. This seems to be confirmed by the second document which calls it "F-19" in quotes for lack of a better designation.

Here is our thread on CSIRS, which has no connection with either the F-117/Senior Trend or the nonexistent "TR-3/Black Manta":


http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,20795.0.html
 

Stargazer2006

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xstatic3000 said:
Here is our thread on CSIRS, which has no connection with either the F-117/Senior Trend or the nonexistent "TR-3/Black Manta":
I know that thread, thanks, I even wrote in it... ;)

Since CSIRS has never been clearly explained, what exactly makes you assert so positively that "CSIRS has no connection with (...) the F-117/Senior Trend"?

The not-yet-designated F-117 was a covert reconnaissance-strike type, and the fact that 29 were said to have been produced thus far by Lockheed makes it pretty obvious to me that the author is talking about the same aircraft.

You're entitled to disagree of course, but what bugs me is that we have a document here that is official, from that era, clearly asserting that Lockheed has produced 29 aircraft for the CSIRS program, but you'd like to think there is more to CSIRS than that. Inasmuch as I'd LOVE to hear there were plenty more secret types in the works or in testing, I can see no reason not to take this particular assertion at face value.
 

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Skyblazer said:
Since CSIRS has never been clearly explained, what exactly makes you assert so positively that "CSIRS has no connection with (...) the F-117/Senior Trend"?

CSIRS never existed as a program.
The phrase "Covert, Survivable In-Weather Reconnaisance/Strike" made it into the press sometime in the early 80s (probably from the Senate proceedings Overscan posted), and was shortened by the press to "CSIRS". In the absence of real information on the rumored stealth fighter program those terms took on a life of their own.


The reality is that "Covert, Survivable In-Weather Reconnaisance/Strike" was a phrase often used in the descriptions of elements of the Covert Strike programs. Covert Strike was a set of programs with the intent of developing and demonstrating new radar concepts that would not reveal the attacking aircraft's position. This involved a remote radar illuminating (ground) targets for the attacking aircraft, which would remain passive. It also involved newer LPI radar techniques and munitions that could take advantage of the new capabilities. Some currently fielded systems have "Covert Strike" radars.


The only connection between Covert Strike and the F-117 program was a short demonstration of a Hughes radar system fitted to an F-117. IIRC that was done in 1986.

Skyblazer said:
The not-yet-designated F-117 was a covert reconnaissance-strike type, and the fact that 29 were said to have been produced thus far by Lockheed makes it pretty obvious to me that the author is talking about the same aircraft.



It still seems to me that the author was speculating or repeating what was reported in the press at the time. The F-117 was never intended to perform reconnaissance.
The Aronstein, Piccirillo F-117 book has a survey of some of the press reports of that era as an appendix. Though not detailed, it should give the reader some idea of how the legend of the F-19 evolved over time.
 

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Here is a UPI example of the press calling it CSIRS in 1986.


WASHINGTON -- Information shut off so quickly it seemed as if Martians had landed in California, but defense experts say the Air Force merely was hiding the crash of its supersecret F-19 Stealth fighter. Conceived as being invisible to hostile radar, the $150 million Stealth fighter presents no more than a ghostly image to the American public. Yet the fiery crash of a plane 12 miles outside of Bakersfield, Calif., on July 11 not only ignited a brush fire that consumed 145 acres, it reawakened interest in the F-19, as the Stealth fighter has been dubbed.
The Air Force -- indeed, the entire Defense Department -- denies the existence of what has become the most pursued and elusive aircraft in the U.S. arsenal, a recluse at a desert base familiar only to its pilots, maintenance crews and others elsewhere charged with the ``need to know.``But snooping by experts in and out of government who make it their business to learn about military technology and its price tag has lifted corners of the veil dropped over the F-19. The plane also is known as the Covert Survivable In-Weather Reconnaissance Strike aircraft. Emphasis has been put on ``covert`` because the CIA may find uses for the plane, one source said. The F-19 fits into C-5A Galaxy transports, which means it can be ferried to U.S. air bases anywhere.
In piecing together reports from publications and sources, which the Air Force refuses to confirm, the F-19 emerges as a major secret weapon with a possible role in a nuclear war -- either for suppressing Soviet air defenses or slipping through them to attack mobile targets with atomic weapons. After several prototypes of the plane were built by the Lockheed Corp. in the late 1970s, the F-19 went into full production in 1981 at a company plant in Palmdale, Calif., the sources said.
 

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The CSIRS=Stealth fighter thing was probably caused by a single journalist making a wrong association (probably in AWST) which was repeated ad infinitum by other sources. We now know what program "Covert Survivable In-Weather Reconnaissance Strike" actually referred to. I would suggest that, possibly, there is a connection between "Covert Survivable In-Weather Reconnaissance Strike" radar technologies and Northrop's Tacit Blue program, but that is the extent of the truth here.

There is simply zero evidence of a "Loral-Northrop F-19".
 

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And this 1976 report correctly uses "XST" as the designation for Lockheed's "Stealth Fighter".

https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1976/1976%20-%202367.html
 
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