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Northrop F/B-23 Rapid Theater Attack aircraft

flateric

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Pics are from that famous eBay lot that was cancelled by seller (under certain circumstances I suppose) and unveiled F/B-23 configuration for the first time.
I wonder where seller is in the moment, here in Russia it smells in such a case with up to 12 years in jail.
 

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TinWing

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The details all look fairly appropriate for a YF-23 development. Northrop always planned a slight extension of the forward fuselage and smaller engine fairings.

Still, I have never quite decided if the F/B-23 model preserves the original wing and tail surfaces of the YF-23. When I look at the front view, I always think that it does....but from the rear it looks as if V-tail has been significantly enlarged. Is this a stretched YF-23 variant, or is the F/B-23 an altogether larger airframe that just shares the YF-23 configuration?

I am also confused by the semi-submerged exhaust. Why am I seeing decidedly unstealthy looking convergent/divergent nozzles? Would the F/B-23 have used standard F135 engines from the JSF program?
 

flateric

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That's how EMD F-23 would look like.
 

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Gavin

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It's remarkably similar to this student project from Cal Poly. Except, of course, the tail configuation.

http://aerosim.calpoly.edu/files/Vendetta/Vendetta%20-%20Final%20SAWE%20Paper.pdf

--Gavin.
 

elmayerle

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TinWing said:
The details all look fairly appropriate for a YF-23 development. Northrop always planned a slight extension of the forward fuselage and smaller engine fairings.

Still, I have never quite decided if the F/B-23 model preserves the original wing and tail surfaces of the YF-23. When I look at the front view, I always think that it does....but from the rear it looks as if V-tail has been significantly enlarged. Is this a stretched YF-23 variant, or is the F/B-23 an altogether larger airframe that just shares the YF-23 configuration?

I am also confused by the semi-submerged exhaust. Why am I seeing decidedly unstealthy looking convergent/divergent nozzles? Would the F/B-23 have used standard F135 engines from the JSF program?

I'm pretty certain they planned to use the F135/F136 engines from the JSF program sicne they build a chunck of the JSF that integrates highly with the engine and would, thus, be quite familiar with both engines.. The nozzles on those engines build on experience with the LOAN (Low-Observables Axisymmetric Nozzle) program that flight tested concepts on a F-16.
 

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Who has ever seen a cutaway of YF-23? Would u mind scan it to me as bigger as possible please?
 

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Perhaps someone has a better copy of this.
 

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TinWing

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Gavin said:
Perhaps someone has a better copy of this.

This cutaway looks like it was from WAPJ?

I'm not sure that it is entirely accurate when it comes to the YF-23's large, single weapons bay. Apparently the production machine would have separate tandem weapons bay with a smaller bay forward for the Sidewinders and a larger one aft for the AMRAAM missiles.

In retrospect, the large weapons bay of the YF-23 would have been better suited to the air to ground role. It is easy to image in that a scaled up airframe based on the YF-23 might have been able to carry even the GBU-28 internally?
 

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One of the reasons for the axisymmetric nozzles is cost. The original nozzles in the YF-23 are somewhat expensive to maintain, due to the tiles for heat shielding. Also, with new developments in terms of nozzle design, as on the F-35, they are still somewhat stealthy and the lower fuselage/tail section still shields the nozzles from many lower aspects.

I always thought the F/B-23 looked like a YF-23 crossed with an RA-5C Vigilante due to the sort of humped back appearance and faired in crew layout.
 

flateric

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This cutaway is from WAPJ, yep, and is truly speculative. For example, YF-23A never had second weapon bay for AIM-9s (F-23 should have). YF-23 had an provisions to carry test AIM-120 on a trapeze launcher AND AIM-9 on a launcher on weapon bay door. AFAIK PAV-1 did carry one dummy AIM-120 for compatibility tests, that's all. EMD a/c should have TWO weapon bays as USAF was not happy with Northrop's idea of stacking AMRAAMS in a rows one above another on their 'revolutionary' launcher system (not trapeze) - if Lockheed have it all in one row, Northrop decided initially to have 3 rows of AMRAAMS (2x3=6 total) plus 2 Sidewinders on a weapon bay doors.
Gun never present on YF-23. Fuel tanks disposition is not quite right and fully shown.
Bad news for you is that Northrop will not release any YF-23 external/internal technical drawings for a long time due to the court decision made after its teammate MDA merged with Boeing.
 

elmayerle

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Sundog said:
One of the reasons for the axisymmetric nozzles is cost. The original nozzles in the YF-23 are somewhat expensive to maintain, due to the tiles for heat shielding. Also, with new developments in terms of nozzle design, as on the F-35, they are stillsomewhat stealthy and the lower fuselage/tail section still shields the nozzles from many lower aspects.

I always thought the F/B-23 looked like a YF-23 crossed with an RA-5C Vigilante due to the sort of humped back appearance and faired in crew layout.

Actually, the F-35's exhaust nozzles are the first production result from the LOAN (Low-Obervables Axisymmetric Nozzle) research program that included flight testing such a nozzle on a F-16.
 

lantinian

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I hope you all enjoy this.

The colored drawing was made in CorelDRAW (very primitive I know) based on the all the F/B-23 pics available. It was supposed to be ready a months ago, but while I was at it. I realized that the official picture seeing an YF-23 like aircraft dropping a bomb is an image of an aircraft different the the RTA model.

I am already making a similar drawing for it.

I did my best to make it geometry and size accurate (I know, it's that big), however if anyone has any suggestions, especially regarding the size of the weapons bays, please go for them. I just made some very accurate coloured 3 views of the most important USAF airdropped munitions and I can include them with ease.

Special regards to flaterick and the Matej. whose F-23A colored drawing served as inspiration. ;) The side profile realy gives a RA-5C Vigilante dejavu, which means I got thins right.

So, a Mach 2.4 supercruise medium fighter/bomber. I bet Dr Carlo Copp would love the have this baby as a replacement for the F-111. And a worthy repplacement it is... Too bad it will nener be prodiced in this particular configuration.

lantinian
 

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frank

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Looks like model-wise, a 1/48 YF-23 would be a good start for a 1/72 version. Any ideas or speculation as to the landing gear?


lantinian said:
I hope you all enjoy this.

The colored drawing was made in CorelDRAW (very primitive I know) based on the all the F/B-23 pics available. It was supposed to be ready a months ago, but while I was at it. I realized that the official picture seeing an YF-23 like aircraft dropping a bomb is an image of an aircraft different the the RTA model.

I am already making a similar drawing for it.

I did my best to make it geometry and size accurate (I know, it's that big), however if anyone has any suggestions, especially regarding the size of the weapons bays, please go for them. I just made some very accurate coloured 3 views of the most important USAF airdropped munitions and I can include them with ease.

Special regards to flaterick and the Matej. whose F-23A colored drawing served as inspiration. ;) The side profile realy gives a RA-5C Vigilante dejavu, which means I got thins right.

So, a Mach 2.4 supercruise medium fighter/bomber. I bet Dr Carlo Copp would love the have this baby as a replacement for the F-111. And a worthy repplacement it is... Too bad it will nener be prodiced in this particular configuration.

lantinian
 

flateric

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lantinian said:
I hope you all enjoy this.

Yes, Niko, you made my day:) But, how overall sizes vere suggested? IMHO, wing/V-tail size should not vary from the original platform. Slightly out of topic, but...how dream I to look under this cover.
 

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lantinian

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Well, I am happy I got someone to smile... 8)

Here is a short description of the dubious process I went trough to get this done ???

-The first thing I did when I drew the FB-23 drawing was get the Length to Span ratio. I used all available pictures and I got an average value from them.

- The I got the 2 perspective point and drew a grid around the aircraft. Fortunately most stealth aircraft have most of their horizontal endpoints in one plain. However, planform alignment is a big help. Once you know the sweep angle and you a half done.

- Using reference from all available pictures I got the other the other details trough similar assumptions.

One thing I cannot settle upon is the weapons load....and the landing gear type and location.

So in the end its a pretty big bird. If anyone wants to make a more "nice" looking version with more shadows and so on, just shout and I can send you a high_res file. Like Matej for instance... ::)


how dream I to look under this cover.
Greg, it this an official THING ? I mean are there are paged beneath that, cause it looks like a CGI job to me? If it is, and it still exist, then there is still hope for madkind. ;D . I am helpless on this matter....

regards,
lantinian
 

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flateric

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lantinian said:
Greg, it this an official THING ? I mean are there are paged beneath that, cause it looks like a CGI job to me? If it is, and it still exist, then there is still hope for madkind. ;D . I am helpless on this matter....
Yes, it's OFFICIAL report cover. No fake.
 

flateric

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Found some traces of a guy who was selling F/B-23 model on eBay. He's not in jail, though. Last time appeared on the net in late 2006 selling what do you think - palms. For those of you who still thinking that he had missed a chance to get more info on the model - I have a correspondence with him when model was on sale. He refused to make any additional pictures.
 

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Folks,

I have heard rumors after rumors about the Northrop YF-23 that lost out to the YF-22 from L-M. Most rumors are that because of its size and layout it was never really intended to win and was instead funded for a deep strike aircraft to replace the F-15E and that some version of it is secretly flying, etc. Does anyone really believe these rumors can be true?

Jack E. Hammond
 

flateric

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In one short word - bullshit.
In two - why do you think covert funded strike aircraft 'to replace F-15E' was funded at the same time as F-15E itself was? Why prototype of 'secretly flying' aircraft were readily available for access of everyone since mid 90s to present time in museum? You may got rumours of rumours wrong - then you have heard of much later attempt called F/B-23 Rapid Theater Attack, that's quite the other story. Use search function at the forum and you will find much more than you have read before as I see.
 

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Dear Member,

Thank you for the reply and the information to put that rumor to rest. Appreciate it.

Jack E. Hammond
 

Just call me Ray

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As I understand it, the real story, once and for all, was that NG simply dropped the ball during the test phase. LM whooped them in the demonstration phase regardless of which product was actually superior.
 

flateric

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This was discussed so much times by guys who are much deeply envolved than we are, that...
 

flateric

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OMG...WLFSCD...posted by That_Engine_Guy at f-16.net forum
"Northrop Grumman's FB-23 Rapid Theater Attack proposal represents a near-term solution for longer range and heavier payload than a fighter. It is a scaled-up version of the company's notoriously fast YF-23 prototype of 1990. "
(Source: Jane's/Bill Sweetman)

Surely not that eBay model -obviously from stand of some exibition that most of us will never attend.
 

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flateric

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Illusion, Scott
 

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The way the "competition" was run was not like previous ones. AF indicated that there were certain points of evaluation and each would be rated by "stoplights". Green was met, Yellow was an area of caution and Red meant the criteria was not met. The relative performance and capabilities of the aircraft were not to be used as a basis for comparison beyond this, the teams evaluating the aircraft were not to compare notes and no one was to fly both aircraft to compare flying characteristics. Ironically, the YF-23 Chief pilot later went to work for Lockheed in the F-22 test program and so he's the only person who knows what it was like to fly both-- He's not talking. One thing the AF did make clear was that it was really interested in speed and stealth. What this stoplight system did was it enabled the Air Force to pick whatever plane it wanted for whatever reason it wanted and never have to fully explain why. both competitors knew this going in, and that may help explain why there was no protest.

Officially, the reason given was that Lockheed seemed to have a better management plan and at the time MDD did opine that it might have been more forceful in getting Northrop to document better.

Regarding the actual performance of the two aircraft, that's remained classified, but the short version of what leaked out is essentially that while both aircraft exceeded the maneuverability requirement, the YF-22 was better at low speed/extreme AoA due to thrust vectoring, and the YF-23 was better at everything else. This is no doubt an over-simplification, but it does indicate the way it probably was.

In the two supposed critical criteria of speed and stealth, the Northrop design almost certainly better (it was faster with both engines), especially in the latter and particularly in IR stealth. If you look at the rear area of the YF-23, you'll note that the engine mountings and "ruddervators" shield the exhaust from all angles except above (where the special tiles help reduce the IR signature) and from directly behind. There are many macho shots of the YF- and F-23 blasting a tongue of flame, vectored and not. In fact, there are a number of cases where the exhaust flame can be seen from the front quarters. Have you ever, ever seen a photo of the YF-23 ,no matter what it was doing, where the exhaust flame was visible?

The YF-23 was lighter and this apparently could translate into more range. Because of its bigger weapons bay, it could probably carry more weapons, even before the 2.5 foot extension permitting a forward Sidewinder bay on the production version. That bigger bay probably could also carry larger and weapons, including the Navy's AIM-152 missile then in development, but this was not something for which AF would give extra credit. Its flight controls were more advanced yet simpler than the YF-22's consisting of the same types of surfaces on the wing as on the -22, but just the two "ruddervators" aft, whereas the -22 used rudders, horizontal stabilizers and thrust vectoring. Another interesting thing about the -23s after surfaces and why they were so splayed out. If you look at the aircraft or rotate a model in your hands, you'll see that there is virtually no angle of attack where they are blanked by the wings/fuselage. On the -22 and other aircraft, the rudders get blanked at higher AoAs, and but the -22s thrust vectoring compensates for this.

If you don't count the proposed additional bay for the production version, the YF-23's mounting of Sidewinders on the bay doors may not have been as good as Lockheed's side bays on the YF-22. While each Sidewinder has half of its view blocked in the horizontal plane on the -22, mounting on an internal door may have blocked even more on the -23 even when opened, without some complex mechanism. The view of the seeker head is especially important since the ATF had no requirement for provision for Helmet Mounted Sights and even today, although F-22s carry AIM-9X, they do not have the HMS capability for the missile that other users do.

YF-23 used a special one piece center section that gave the aircraft a number of advantages, but there is talk that AF didn't feel that Northrop sufficiently documented they could actually build the section, despite the fact that it had two of the aircraft sitting there. One thing that would further lighten and simplify EMD/production aircraft was the engine housings. AF originally required that ATF would have thrust reversers. Before first flight, this requirement was dropped. Northrop was way ahead of Lockheed in building their aircraft. Although AF slowed the program to allow Lockheed to catch up, the YF-23 was too far along in construction to change the prototypes. although the reversers were never fitted, the engine enclosures were still sized to mount and support the reversers. EMD and later F-23s would have had this removed and the housings would probably have looked more like what the "F/B-23's" would have looked like.

As far as the flying went, Lockheed was smarter. Northrop built a plane and flew it in a manner more in keeping with what AF said it wanted, while Lockheed went for what it figured AF really wanted. Northrop wanted to fly lots more hours and get airborne as soon as it was ready, but was not permitted to do so, It especially wanted to show speed and stealth as that would directly relate to how the a/c would be used in combat Missile firings and extreme AoA would be demonstrated through computer simulation. Lockheed decided to showcase its low speed/high AOA maneuverability and also fired a couple of missiles. Firing a couple of unguided missiles really proved nothing, but was the kind of stuff fighter jocks like to see. It's worthy of note that when the F-22 fights it doesn't use its maneuverability as much as it stays high and stealthy, comes in fast and shoots down at the opposing aircraft.

The YF-23 was probably the better plane, but both aircraft were truly remarkable. Remember, that as long as you got enough green lights or could convince AF that your yellows were fixable (in point of fact, both competitors got all greens), the relative performance and capabilities of the aircraft dropped out of the selection equation.
 

flateric

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Interesting stuff from Flight International archives

Northrop slip reveals ATF payload details
FLIGHT INTERNATIONAL 4-10 July 1990
BY JOHN BAILEY
IN LOS ANGELES
Detailed drawings of the Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) prototype, which were inadvertently released after the roll-out ceremony on 22 June, appear to have revealed the aircraft's still-classified payload. The classified drawings, which were hastily retrieved by embarrassed Northrop officials, clearly showed a single ventral weapons bay beneath and slightly aft of in the cockpit, with stowage points for four air-to-air missiles. A plan-view drawing appeared to depict two AIM-9 Sidewinders mounted forward of two AIM-120 AMRAAMs, although this would be a remarkably small payload for a long-range air superiority fighter. The aircraft will also carry a 20mm cannon in the starboard fuselage. The McDonnell Douglas F-15, which ATF will replace, has eight missile stations and can carry a mixture of Sparrows, Sidewinders or AMRAAMs.[...]

Compensation wrangle delays Northrop ATF
FLIGHT INTERNATIONAL 24-30 January 1990
BY JOHN BAILEY
IN LOS ANGELES
Northrop is close to resolving a compensation dispute with the US Air Force which had brought work on the YF-23
prototype which the company is building in association with McDonnell Douglas for the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) programme to a virtual standstill. Northrop president Kent Kresa says that the company had asked for substantially more than the $52 million offered by USAF as compensation for a six-month programme slippage. Admitting that it was in the company's interest to accept the offer, Kent said it was " . . . not so much the dollar figure, as clarifying the ground rules". These have still to be established, he added. Northrop and McDonnell, developing the YF-23 ATF candidate in competition with a team led by Lockheed, developing the YF-22 contender, had refused to accept USAF's "take it or leave it" offer of $52 million to cover expenses resulting from a six-month extension to the demonstration/validation (DEMVAL) phase. As a result, the companies had now begun to lay off staff involved in ATF work, or were re-assigning them to other programmes. Lockheed announced last week that it has accepted the Air Force's offer, despite estimating the true cost of the programme extension at $f00 million.
The Lockheed YF-22 team includes Boeing and General Dynamics. The first Northrop/McDonnell YF-23 has already been delivered to Edwards AFB in California in preparation for a public rollout, and the second prototype is due there shortly. The Northrop team was reportedly angered by USAF's decision to extend DEMVAL because it damaged its "competitive stance". The team has always planned to fly its prototype before Lockheed's YF-22, and was apparently close to meeting the original schedule. The Air Force decided to extend DEMVAL last October, citing the need to develop a carrier-suitable variant of the ATF to meet a US Navy requirement for an F-14 successor. The Northrop team apparently claims that its costs will increase by nearly $180 million. While the impasse continues, Lockheed is proceeding with final assembly of its YF-22 prototypes in Palmdale, California. The aircraft should be ready to fly to Edwards after a public rollout by the middle of this year. Both contractor teams are on matching $691 million DEMVAL contracts, but are estimated to have invested at least the same amount of their own money in developing the rival prototypes. USAF plans to buy 750 ATFs.

Northrop accepts ATF payment
FLIGHT INTERNATIONAL 31 January-6 February 1990
Northrop and McDonnell Douglas have accepted the US Air Force's offer of $52 million in compensation for the six month slippage in the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) programme. They are still negotiating the terms. Earlier, the Northrop-led team building the YF-23 ATF contender started laying off and reassigning workers from its ATF effort after reaching an impasse in negotiations with the Air Force (Flight, 17-23 January). Northrop said last week: "We are still negotiating with the Air Force. We need to make sure that we have a firm understanding of what the extension means, so we can proceed from there." The Air Force announced the extension of the demonstration and validation (demval) stage, last October, citing the extra work needed to develop a carrier-suitable variant as a possible F-14 successor. The Air Force estimated the total cost of extending demval at $550 million and said that it would not expect the contractors to meet this.

NASA could rescue redundant YF-23s
FLIGHT INTERNATIONAL 5 - 1 1 June, 1991
BY GUY NORRIS
Northrop is offering NASA use of its two YF-23 prototypes for flight research rather than see them scrapped. The
aircraft became redundant after losing the recent Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) competition to the Lockheed-led F-22 (Flight International, 1-7 May). Northrop says the YF-23's large, close-coupled V-tails provide high pitch, roll and yaw rates at low speeds, high angle-of-attack (AOA) and would provide an ideal tool for high-alpha and post-stall-manoeuvre advanced airborne research. If NASA rejects the offer, details of which are not clear, then the outlook for the aircraft is bleak. "We can't give them to a museum because of the classified materials which make them up," says Paul Metz, Northrop chief test pilot for the programme, "so they will probably be destroyed or end their days gathering dust on the Edwards ramp....unless our research proposals to NASA are accepted."
Speaking at the Society of Experimental Test Pilots' meeting at Bath, England, Metz gave new details of the YF-23 test programme. Referring specifically to the aircraft's high-alpha capability he says: "We demonstrated precise control at 25° AOA at low airspeed and very high roll and pitch performance at supercruise". Metz criticised the fly-off concept, adding: "We still don't fully understand the reasons why we failed". Speaking about the competition he said: "People need to look at this in several ways, but it is the riskiest approach. It's one thing to have two new aircraft, but to have two new engines as well is a formula for disaster. It didn't happen but people should ask themselves why." In all, the two YF-23s flew 65.2h during 50 flights over 14 weeks. A total of five pilots checked out on the aircraft, two US Air Force and three from the Northrop/McDonnell Douglas team. The flight envelope was expanded during the short programme to Mach 1.8 and altitudes of 50,000ft (15,150m).
Metz says that engine thrust and aircraft drag estimates were "a bit pessimistic" and supercruise speeds were higher than predicted. The Pratt & Whitney F119-powered YF-23A achieved a standard-day supercruise speed of M 1.43 while the General Electric FI20-powered variant achieved "...a higher speed. Both engines were stall free
even under extremely adverse conditions like full afterburner lights at 50,000ft and 180kt [330 km/h calibrated air speed [CAS]". Metz adds that the aircraft has "...an impressive supersonic turn performance and its low wing loading gives it excellent low-speed capabilities". Other highlights include "excellent formation and aerial refuelling characteristics", and the "...best gun tracking to 4gs I've seen", says Metz. One incident, which almost resulted in the loss of the second YF-23A, prototype air vehicle (PAV) 2, occurred on its third flight at 26,000ft when fuel "...streamed heavily" from overflow valves as the tanks over-pressurised by 80%. "Fortunately the tanks didn't burst," says Metz, who explains that the cause was traced to a 3mm diameter sensing tube linked to the pressure-regulating valve. The tube was blocked with manufacturer's material and was sensing ground pressure. Other incidents included windscreens cracking on both aircraft. The polycarbonate composite screen cracked at M 1.6 on PAV-1 and at M1.8 on PAV-2. The nosewheel, an off-the- shelf F-15 unit, also shimmied during high-speed taxiing trials at HOkt CAS. The problem was solved by a 5kg "scissor-link" attached rigidly to the lower strut arm.
 

TinWing

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jackehammond said:
I have heard rumors after rumors about the Northrop YF-23 that lost out to the YF-22 from L-M. Most rumors are that because of its size and layout it was never really intended to win and was instead funded for a deep strike aircraft to replace the F-15E and that some version of it is secretly flying, etc. Does anyone really believe these rumors can be true?

It was the appearance of a Northrop-Grumman desk model on eBay several years ago that started this sort of urban legend.

By all appearances, the YF-22 was the better demonstrator, but it is easy to see why silly rumors of the (largely unsupported) annecdotal superiority of the YF-23 persist: it was a far more exotic looking aircraft! If the X-32 had been similarly appealing to aviation enthusiasts, we would be hearing the same bunk about the JSF program.
 

sferrin

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TinWing said:
jackehammond said:
I have heard rumors after rumors about the Northrop YF-23 that lost out to the YF-22 from L-M. Most rumors are that because of its size and layout it was never really intended to win and was instead funded for a deep strike aircraft to replace the F-15E and that some version of it is secretly flying, etc. Does anyone really believe these rumors can be true?

It was the appearance of a Northrop-Grumman desk model on eBay several years ago that started this sort of urban legend.

By all appearances, the YF-22 was the better demonstrator, but it is easy to see why silly rumors of the (largely unsupported) annecdotal superiority of the YF-23 persist:

It's more than "silly unsubstantiated rumors". Pretty much everybody agrees on it. If it were just the kooks at ATS and the fanboys that would be one thing but it's pretty much across the board as far as I've read.
 

flateric

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You can't say that better than Don Rice

Rice noted that the Lockheed and Pratt & Whitney designs "clearly offered better capability at lower cost, thereby providing the Air Force with a true best value."

period
 

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flateric said:
In one short word - bullshit.
In two - why do you think covert funded strike aircraft 'to replace F-15E' was funded at the same time as F-15E itself was? Why prototype of 'secretly flying' aircraft were readily available for access of everyone since mid 90s to present time in museum? You may got rumours of rumours wrong - then you have heard of much later attempt called F/B-23 Rapid Theater Attack, that's quite the other story. Use search function at the forum and you will find much more than you have read before as I see.

Maybe he meant F-111 instead of F-15E.
 

TinWing

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sferrin said:
It's more than "silly unsubstantiated rumors". Pretty much everybody agrees on it. If it were just the kooks at ATS and the fanboys that would be one thing but it's pretty much across the board as far as I've read.

The desk model, which appears to be genuine, only proves that Northrop-Grumman was still marketing manned combat aircraft as recently as a couple of years ago. Why the model was discarded or mislayed, and how it ended on eBay, are matters for speculation? I can only assume that the -23 designation and basic YF-23 configuration were "recycled" as part of an unsolicited proposal to the USAF within the last 5 or 6 years.

What the model fails to substantiate is that there was any sort of conspiracy surrounding the ATF competition. The YF-23 was Northrop's bid for the same requirement as the winning YF-22, pure and simple. There is no conspiracy at work here, only a discarded desk model. The is no F/B-23 "black" program, only a possible marketing effort which most likely ended some time before the model appeared on eBay.

After the A-12/SR-71, F-117 and B-2, enthusiasts were looking for the next manned "black" program. As the SR-71 fleet was drawing down, aviation enthusiasts embraced the idea of a top-secret hypersonic successor, the mythical Lock-Ness-Monster-of-Aviation, the so-called "Aurora." Now, with the F-111 long gone and the F-117 winding down, enthusiasts have embraced the curious, misguided notion that the YF-23 has been under development since the 1980s as a strike platform and that the "staged" ATF fly-off was meant to publicly expose, and thoroughly discredit, what would amount to the longest running and most expensive "black" program in history - or so the conspiricists would have you believe.
 

flateric

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F/B-23 Timeline

July 13-19, 2004 - Flight International article by Guy Norris
YF-23 re-emerges for surprise bid
Northrop Grumman's "forgotten" advanced tactical fighter leaves museum and could be heading for bomber contest

February 19, 2005 - Model appears on eBay
Item description
NORTHROP GRUMMAN F/B-23 RTA EXECUTIVE DESK MODEL 1/65
"Here is a very rare item, a NORTHROP GRUMMAN F/B-23 RTA (RAPID THEATER ATTACK) FIGHTER JET WITH AIR FORCE MARKINGS EXECUTIVE DESK-TOP DISPLAY MODEL in 1/65th scale! THIS MODEL WAS MADE ONLY FOR EXECUTIVES AND VIPS AT NORTHROP GRUMMAN. I got this from a former employee, this is what he told me. This model is in mint condition! [...]original box[...]. Marked on the bottom of the walnut base as "NORTHROP GRUMMAN DISPLAY MODEL SHOP". It is very solid, I think it is made of resin, Measures approx. 18 1/4" long & 9 1/4" wide. Very accurate lines, markings and details, metallic painted canopy. Box has Northrop Grumman sticker."

February 21, 2005 - Item removed from the sale. Before that, there were 4 bids, price went to US $56.55

September 9–14, 2005 F/B-23 model appears at AFA National Convention
 

flateric

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So we have about 30.13 m length and 15.27 m wingspan, compared to 20.60 m/43 ft 7 in (13.30 m) for YF-23
 

TinWing

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flateric said:
July 13-19, 2004 - Flight International article by Guy Norris
YF-23 re-emerges for surprise bid
Northrop Grumman's "forgotten" advanced tactical fighter leaves museum and could be heading for bomber contest

February 19, 2005 - Model appears on eBay
Item description
NORTHROP GRUMMAN F/B-23 RTA EXECUTIVE DESK MODEL 1/65

February 21, 2005 - Item removed from the sale.
September 9–14, 2005 F/B-23 model appears at AFA National Convention

This chronology would indicate a marketing effort from this decade, not a conspiracy dating back a decade and a half.

I have always assumed that the AFA National Convention appearance was an attempt by Northrop-Grumman to positively leverage the publicity from the eBay listing.

The big question is just how old the proposal really is. My guess is that the concept depicted by the model was presented to the USAF some time before the July 2004 article and was truly dead by the time of the eBay listing.
 

flateric

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It was removed on request from Northrop.
 

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