• Hi Guest! Forum rules have been updated. All users please read here.

Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 and EMD F-23

Ogami musashi

CLEARANCE: Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2006
Messages
304
Reaction score
2
Don't know if this has been brought up before, this is the official briefing from secretary Rice from 1991, april 23rd


(If that is valuable information i'll make a duplicate in the Lockheed ATF thread)
 

Ogami musashi

CLEARANCE: Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2006
Messages
304
Reaction score
2

EXCLUSIVE: YF-23A THERMAL DESIGNER PROVIDES SOME INTERESTING DETAILS ABOUT NORTHROP ATF
By Dario Leone - Oct 14 2017010853
YF-23A thermal designer provides some interesting details about Northrop ATF
“The USAF ATF requirements did not require the ATF design to have a lot of agility. Northrop for the design of their YF-23A chose stealth over agility to meet the USAF specifications. Northrop’s aft deck design shielded the aircraft from horizontal and look up threats by hiding the exhaust. Lockheed did the opposite, they chose agility over stealth for the design of the aft section of their YF-22A,” John Shupek, designer of the YF-23A Black Widow II aft deck

The Northrop YF-23A and the Lockheed YF-22A competed against each other in the late 1980s/early 1990s in the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program.

As we have explained the YF-22A was selected as best of the two and the engineering and manufacturing development effort began in 1991 with the development contract assigned to Lockheed/Boeing.

However the YF-23A remains one of the coolest (and most intriguing) aircraft ever built.

John Shupek, a retired Aeronautical/Aerospace Engineer and now owner of Skytamer.com aviation website, was hired by Northrop in 1985, at the start of the ATF competition to do the thermal design of the back end or “aft decks” of the Northrop ATF.

YF-23A thermal designer provides some interesting details about Northrop ATF
Photo of the wheel well door of PAV-2. “I took this photo when I was the Curator of the Western Museum of Flight. At that time the Museum was located in Hawthorne, CA. This particular picture was taken circa 1995 after PAV-2 and been restored at the Western Museum of Flight. I believe that this particular callsign was placed on PAV-2 in error, since the Museum’s PAV-2 was known as the “Gray Ghost,” says John Shupek.
As Shupek tells The Aviation Geek Club, Northrop built two YF-23A prototypes. “YF-23A PAV-1 (with the Pratt & Whitney engines) was actually referred to as “Spider” and its callsign was painted on the inside of the nosewheel door. YF-23A PAV-2 (with the General Electric engines) was actually referred to as “Gray Ghost” and its callsign was painted on the inside of the nosewheel door.”

“Collectively both aircraft were referred to as the Black Widow II.” He explains “Why do I know this? I won the contest for the naming of the aircraft. Back around 1987, we had a “name the plane” contest in an obscure building referred to as “AL” which was located about a half a mile away from the main Northrop campus. This AL building is where the initial design work on the ATF program was conducted in utmost secret.”YF-23A thermal designer provides some interesting details about Northrop ATF

Shupek continues providing some interesting information about both the role he played in the YF-23A program and the “name the plane” contest. “Basically, my job was to make sure that the backend of the airplane didn’t burn off. I evaluated various types of cooling designs for the aft deck and eventually came up with the decision that “transpiration cooling” was the most effective method of cooling the aft deck of the proposed Northrop ATF design. As time passed, the initial eight airframers boiled down to 2-teams: the Lockheed team with the YF-22A (Lightning II) and the Northrop Team with the YF-23A (Black Widow II). By the way the official designations for the two aircraft were YF-22A and YF-23A, not YF-22 and YF-23 as painted on the tails. My California automobile license plate for ten years was YF23A (the correct designation). One of my AFT co-team members chose YF23 as his license plate and was really upset when he found out it was the wrong designation. After the final two teams were selected, we held an in-house competition to determine what supplier would be chosen to build the transpiration cooling tiles that were to form the aft deck of the YF-23A. We eventually chose Allison, located in Indianapolis. The Northrop chosen name for the YF-23A aircraft (Black Widow II) was not officially announced until a short time before the original photographs of PAV-1 were made public.” YF-23A thermal designer provides some interesting details about Northrop ATF

“At that time, my design work on the YF-23A was complete, and I moved on to become a Thermal Manager on the TASSAM (Tri-Service Standoff Attack Missile) subsonic stealth cruise missile program.” Shupek explains. “While on the TSSAM program circa 1989, I received a phone call from Robert R. Sandusky, Jr’s. (Robert was Northrop’s ATF Chief Engineer) secretary (Greta Kane), informing me that I had won the naming contest. The name “Black Widow II” was quite appropriate because it shared many of the same characteristics of its namesake, the Northrop P-61 “Black Widow” World War II night fighter. Both aircraft had two engines, both aircraft were extremely lethal, both aircraft were all weather aircraft, and the coup de grace for the YF-23A was that it’s RCS (Radar Cross Section) signature looked just like a spider web. The name was perfect!”YF-23A thermal designer provides some interesting details about Northrop ATF

“One day I was having lunch with Tom Rooney (former Northrop Aircraft Division vice president) in the Northrop cafeteria and I told him about my YF23A California license plate. I asked him if it was possible to get a picture of the license plate hanging off the nose of the YF-23A. Tom instantly said yes. He wanted to do this because it was a California plate, not a Missouri plate. This goes back to all of the legal problems between Northrop and McDonnell Douglas when the USAF Northrop YF-17 Cobra morphed into the USN F/A-18 Hornet. It was a bitter battle between the two companies that lasted many years. McDonnell Douglas ended up being the prime contractor, while Northrop (the initial designer of the airplane) was referred as the major subcontractor. For the ATF, these roles were reversed, thus Tom’s statement about the Missouri plate. The only reason we didn’t fly the YF-23A with the license plate hanging off the nose, was we could not find the mil-specs for a ‘License plate hanging off the nose of an airplane going over Mach 2.3.’ Well, at those speeds the string holding the license plate probably would’ve broken anyway. Needless to say Northrop ATF team was really proud of our aircraft. We absolutely knew that it was the better of the two airplanes,” he recalls.

YF-23A thermal designer provides some interesting details about Northrop ATF
Here’s a photo of John Shupek license plate on the YF-23A. “I still have the plate,” he says
About the U.S. Air Force (USAF) ATF requirements Shupek explains that “the USAF ATF requirements did not require the ATF design to have a lot of agility. The USAF was looking for a stealth fighter that would have a significant time differential between the ATF and the bandit’s discovery of the ATF. For Northrop, the aft deck of the YF-23A was one of the key stealth features of Northrop’s ATF design. Northrop chose stealth over agility to meet the USAF specifications. Northrop’s aft deck design shielded the aircraft from horizontal and look up threats by hiding the exhaust. Lockheed did the opposite, they chose agility over stealth for the design of the aft section of their YF-22A.”YF-23A thermal designer provides some interesting details about Northrop ATF

As explained By Shupek one statement, that really tells in just a few words iust how lethal the ATF designs were, was made by Norhtrop Program Manager, Dell Jacobs, circa 1986 for a Wright-Patterson briefing about the ATF program. “The ATF will have the same tactical advantage over the F-15 that the F-15 has over the Goodyear blimp. Believe it or not, that’s a true statement. The statement applies to both of the ATF designs. The first sign that a MiG pilot would have that an ATF was in the area, would be its engine blowing up from a missile hit!”

“The real reason we (Northrop) lost the program was that Lockheed had no new fighter programs at that time, while Northrop had the F/A-18E/F and the B-2.” Shupek reveals. “It was in the national interest of the U.S. to keep Lockheed alive as an airframer. We were told through unofficial channels after the competition, that our design actually met the specs better than the Lockheed design. Believe it or not, Northrop actually won by losing the ATF competition. The Soviet threat that the ATF aircraft were designed for evaporated in 1989 as Humpty Dumpty fell off the Berlin Wall and all the Kremlin’s resources and the Kremlin’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again. After Humpty Dumpty, the U.S Congress reduced AFT funding thus forcing the USAF to reduce the number of F-22s that were to be purchased. Meanwhile the Boeing/Northrop-Grumman team kept on building the F/A-18E/F/G’s and everybody seemed to want some of these aircraft for their tarmac.”YF-23A thermal designer provides some interesting details about Northrop ATF

During his 36-year career Shupek was also part of the Pratt & Whitney (P&W) jet engine design team for the CIA/USAF’s Lockheed A-12/SR-71A “Oxcart/Blackbird” engines (J58/JT11D-20), as he recalls. “In my earlier years, as a brand new engineer fresh out of the “Cookie Jar”, I worked at Pratt & Whitney in Florida on the SR-71A Blackbird engines. My job was to design the cooling for the first stage turbine blades and vanes. Again, like the YF-23A, it was my job to make sure that the JT11D first stage turbine blades and vanes didn’t burn up and cause a big boom. Keep in mind, during this era, our computers were in their infancy. Both Lockheed and Pratt & Whitney engineers used slide rules for the majority of their calculations. At Pratt & Whitney, we had an IBM 1600 “16K” card reader computer, and an IBM 360 mainframe computer with an amazing “360K” of computing power. My God, who could ever need more computing power than that!”YF-23A thermal designer provides some interesting details about Northrop ATF

Going back to the YF-23A program, Shupek says that testing of the ATF aft deck tiles was made at P&W’s FRDC (Florida Research and Development Center) behind Pratt’s YF119 AFT test engines. “We tested several designs behind the engines and found out that the “transpiration cooled” aft deck tile design did the job. I still remember the exact moment when I called Bob Sandusky back in California and all I said was “Bob, we have an airplane!” Needless to say, Sandusky was extremely pleased and we continued on from there. If the tile design had not worked, we most likely would have had to redesign the back end of the aircraft, which most likely would’ve increased the RCS signature of the aircraft, thus making it less stealthy.”YF-23A thermal designer provides some interesting details about Northrop ATF

Shupek adds some interesting details about the testing of the aft deck tiles. “When we did the testing of the aft deck tiles down at Pratt, the YF119 was in the full afterburner mode. This might help you to imagine what it looked like. Imagine a 50 foot long exhaust flame plume coming out of the backend of the engine with seven or eight shock diamonds visible in the exhaust plume. Of course the sound that the engines produced was extreme. For example, when I worked on the Blackbird engines, I lived in Jupiter, Florida which was about 20 miles away from the P&W plant, and the test cells were an additional 4-5 miles back into the Everglades. At night, 25 miles away, we could hear the SR-71A engines being tested.”

YF-23A thermal designer provides some interesting details about Northrop ATF
A piicture of the aft deck tiles taken by John Shupek at the Western Museum of Flight, during his tenure as the curator.
“Time marched on, and I eventually retired from Northrop-Grumman in 2000 with the title of Northrop Grumman Program Director F/A-18E/F Super Hornet,” Shupek concludes. “Working for Northrop was one of the “funnest” times of my life. Believe it or not, it was one of those jobs that you looked forward to going to work every day just for the adventure of it. Who could ask for a better job?”YF-23A thermal designer provides some interesting details about Northrop ATF

Photo Courtesy of John Shupek

Additional images: U.S. Air Force
 

Airplane

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Oct 3, 2015
Messages
432
Reaction score
1
Ogami musashi said:
https://www.google.fr/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjv4uufhfrWAhWGWBoKHZpaAeEQFgg_MAY&url=https%3A%2F%2Ftheaviationgeekclub.com%2Fexclusive-yf-23a-thermal-designer-provides-interesting-details-northrop-atf%2F&usg=AOvVaw3q9zA_fKSDldUo4UrxylqW
I suspect that is probably true about the YF-22 being chosen to keep Lockheed in the game and to keep the industrial base spread out. But wow did that backfire. We now have a USAF where every post legacy airframe is from Lockheed, not to mention the Marines and Navy. Hopefully NG fares better with NGAD or PCA or whatever the buzz word of the moment is. I really don't think its very wise to have one contractor providing EVERY fighter for every branch of service.
 

Ogami musashi

CLEARANCE: Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2006
Messages
304
Reaction score
2
in the official ATF winner video, Secretary Rice also acknowledge that LM was the low bidder. So if you add the opinion of John Shupek and that of Tony Chong, in his book, where he says that considering the problems in the two greyish programs (B-2 and TASSAM) and the subcontractor of the super hornet program, there was little chance from the start that Northrop would win the ATF contract. A shame as i would have loved to see the final version of the F-23. For the MRF concept (from 1992) as well as, much later, the F/B-23 they went on to use the same configuration but with many differences including going from low wing to mid wing arrangement.
 

Airplane

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Oct 3, 2015
Messages
432
Reaction score
1
Well the engineering drawings of a production F-23A don't look it changed from low to mid wing. They straightened out the chine running down the its length, so maybe the wing position slightly changed upwards a little (or maybe not).

What problems did the B-2 face aside from the USAF changing course midstream and requiring a low altitude penetration capability be added?
 

Ogami musashi

CLEARANCE: Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2006
Messages
304
Reaction score
2
The EMD version wasn't the final version, just like the final F-22 version was frozen april 1992 :) Tony chong explicitely label the EMD proposal as starting point for the final version. Besides, not only one version of the F-23 was studied at the time depending on evolving requirements within the ATF program. There were post EMD configurations studied but so far we haven't been able to see any of them.
The mid wing is just a conjecture from me, but i have some points
1/among the MRF variants (1992 so just months after the EMD would have been started), 2 of them shared F-23 features (clipped diamond wings and Vtails), one of them being a sub scaled twin engine F-23 and the other being the famous single engine with thrust vectoring. And both of them went to mid wing with both the fuselage and the engines now aligned with the horizontal center line of the plane.
2/The weapon bays of the F-23 EMD were tailored for aim120-A/B with 4 of them. The adaptation to clipped fins aim120Cs (those were not part of the ATF requirement) was harder than the F-22 because the wing bulkhead literally slashed through the main weapon bay and only let place for the aim-120A/B fins to pass. Lowering the fuselage to the HCL would have made the bulkhead pass higher and offer more freedom for the payload (i think).
3/For the F/B-23 they did just that. The fuselage is now aligned with the HCL, the engines are too. The were also moved aft presumably to offer more weapon bay length.
But who knows...

As for the B-2, i'm not a specialist but i believe around the early 90's, there were some major problems with the RCS due to coatings defects and some other technical difficulties Northrop encountered and the USAF wasn't happy with that especially since TASSAM was also plagued with delays and technical problems.

There is a western Museum of flight interview of a Northrop test pilot of the F-5 and he briefly talks about the F-20. According to him, the USAF already told Northrop "they should first try managing their existing programs before thinking of adding some more". Coincidentally, the day Northrop was told to close the F-20 program, they were selected as finalists in the ATF competition.
 

DrRansom

I really should change my personal text
Joined
Dec 15, 2012
Messages
527
Reaction score
4
Regarding the F/B-23, I've come to the conclusion that the decision not to replace the F-15E with a FB-22 or FB-23 is critical for the USAF's present issues.

If the USAF had the FB-22/23, that would give:
- a reduced range demand on the F-35, because other stealth aircraft would exist to fulfill long range role. Reduced range would have reduced weight, which would have had all sorts of benefits for the final F-35
- a large airframe strike fighter gives a perfect platform for interim electronic attack capability, the F-35 can do some through the AESA, but weight and heat limitations restrict the number of emitters than can be fitted
- a large airframe strike fighter would have reduced tanker demands and tactical fighter usage during the COIN operations, through longer endurance and payload

But, that is in the past.
 

Airplane

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Oct 3, 2015
Messages
432
Reaction score
1
I have often wondered how the 23 was going to incorporate thrust reversing before the short field performance requirement was dropped.
 

Ogami musashi

CLEARANCE: Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2006
Messages
304
Reaction score
2
Airplane said:
I have often wondered how the 23 was going to incorporate thrust reversing before the short field performance requirement was dropped.
By stealthy doors on top of the engine nacelles. The HSF (first iteration prior to the YF-23) had those doors. You can see drawings of it in Paul Metz's ATF YF-23 book :)
 

marauder2048

"I should really just relax"
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
2,330
Reaction score
77
Sundog said:
My copy should ship tomorrow. If no one else get's it first, I'll put a review here.
Hopefully, it will finally allow you to crack DOD's 30-year old omerta on Lockheed's source selection.
 

overscan

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 27, 2005
Messages
11,606
Reaction score
1,077
I don't think there's any mystery about the selection of the F-22. Aircraft proposals rarely if ever win solely on technical merit.
 

marauder2048

"I should really just relax"
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
2,330
Reaction score
77
PaulMM (Overscan) said:
I don't think there's any mystery about the selection of the F-22. Aircraft proposals rarely if ever win solely on technical merit.
That's very convenient since anyone who doesn't embrace that cliched view of the win has to prove
the non-existence of a conspiracy...which is impossible.
 

Ogami musashi

CLEARANCE: Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2006
Messages
304
Reaction score
2
marauder2048 said:
Sundog said:
My copy should ship tomorrow. If no one else get's it first, I'll put a review here.
Hopefully, it will finally allow you to crack DOD's 30-year old omerta on Lockheed's source selection.
I posted some time ago the full winner announcement press conference. It's in the YF-23 thread. Gates was pretty clear even in front of the press that they had more confidence in LM to manage the program, that LM was the low bidder and that both planes performed similarly with only small nuances.
 

overscan

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 27, 2005
Messages
11,606
Reaction score
1,077
Ogami musashi said:
I posted some time ago the full winner announcement press conference. It's in the YF-23 thread. Gates was pretty clear even in front of the press that they had more confidence in LM to manage the program, that LM was the low bidder and that both planes performed similarly with only small nuances.
Both planes met the criteria. It was a straight traffic lights system - if the spec was met, it was green, no credits for exceeding. It seems likely that each contender exceeded different criteria, and yes there may have been gaming of the criteria themselves.

If the USAF requirement asked for supercruise at Mach 1.5 and your design did Mach 1.8, for example, you didn't score higher.

All planes were green on all requirements, so they picked the cheaper bid from the company with the better recent track record on delivery.
 

marauder2048

"I should really just relax"
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
2,330
Reaction score
77
PaulMM (Overscan) said:
Ogami musashi said:
I posted some time ago the full winner announcement press conference. It's in the YF-23 thread. Gates was pretty clear even in front of the press that they had more confidence in LM to manage the program, that LM was the low bidder and that both planes performed similarly with only small nuances.
Both planes met the criteria. It was a straight traffic lights system - if the spec was met, it was green, no credits for exceeding. It seems likely that each contender exceeded different criteria, and yes there may have been gaming of the criteria themselves.

If the USAF requirement asked for supercruise at Mach 1.5 and your design did Mach 1.8, for example, you didn't score higher.

All planes were green on all requirements, so they picked the cheaper bid from the company with the better recent track record on delivery.
Someone remotely familiar with the source selection process would immediately recognize that it was Donald Rice and then
not go on to make unfounded inferences.
 

Sundog

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 2, 2006
Messages
2,631
Reaction score
42
Ogami musashi said:
I posted some time ago the full winner announcement press conference. It's in the YF-23 thread. Gates was pretty clear even in front of the press that they had more confidence in LM to manage the program, that LM was the low bidder and that both planes performed similarly with only small nuances.
It's also about keeping contractors alive, contrary to the blather about "The best team" wins. Northrop had the B-2 program, and it hadn't been cut down to only 20 aircraft yet. As good as the YF-23 was, I didn't see the DOD letting Northrop have both the ATB and the ATF. Also, companies wouldn't spend so much money on lobbying if it didn't work.
 

overscan

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 27, 2005
Messages
11,606
Reaction score
1,077
marauder2048 said:
PaulMM (Overscan) said:
Ogami musashi said:
I posted some time ago the full winner announcement press conference. It's in the YF-23 thread. Gates was pretty clear even in front of the press that they had more confidence in LM to manage the program, that LM was the low bidder and that both planes performed similarly with only small nuances.
Both planes met the criteria. It was a straight traffic lights system - if the spec was met, it was green, no credits for exceeding. It seems likely that each contender exceeded different criteria, and yes there may have been gaming of the criteria themselves.

If the USAF requirement asked for supercruise at Mach 1.5 and your design did Mach 1.8, for example, you didn't score higher.

All planes were green on all requirements, so they picked the cheaper bid from the company with the better recent track record on delivery.
Someone remotely familiar with the source selection process would immediately recognize that it was Donald Rice and then
not go on to make unfounded inferences.
Did I mention Gates?

Please share your view on why the F-22 was selected over the F-23.
 

overscan

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 27, 2005
Messages
11,606
Reaction score
1,077
Sundog said:
Ogami musashi said:
I posted some time ago the full winner announcement press conference. It's in the YF-23 thread. Gates was pretty clear even in front of the press that they had more confidence in LM to manage the program, that LM was the low bidder and that both planes performed similarly with only small nuances.
It's also about keeping contractors alive, contrary to the blather about "The best team" wins. Northrop had the B-2 program, and it hadn't been cut down to only 20 aircraft yet. As good as the YF-23 was, I didn't see the DOD letting Northrop have both the ATB and the ATF. Also, companies wouldn't spend so much money on lobbying if it didn't work.
Britain did this a lot. Lots of things along the lines of "Shorts submission is the worst of the lot, but we can't increase unemployment in Northern Ireland right now, so lets give it to them anyway".
 

marauder2048

"I should really just relax"
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
2,330
Reaction score
77
Sundog said:
Ogami musashi said:
I posted some time ago the full winner announcement press conference. It's in the YF-23 thread. Gates was pretty clear even in front of the press that they had more confidence in LM to manage the program, that LM was the low bidder and that both planes performed similarly with only small nuances.
It's also about keeping contractors alive, contrary to the blather about "The best team" wins. Northrop had the B-2 program, and it hadn't been cut down to only 20 aircraft yet. As good as the YF-23 was, I didn't see the DOD letting Northrop have both the ATB and the ATF. Also, companies wouldn't spend so much money on lobbying if it didn't work.
IOW, you have no evidence.

Industrial base considerations are completely legal and legitimate to have in the RFP and source
selection process yet weren't there for ATF at all. Metz amongst many others acknowledge that such
considerations played no part whatsoever.

If anyone was lobbying in this period it was Northrop; the B-2 procurement plan had been cut in half by
this point and the House bills had it being killed outright in 1990/1991.

The AIAA papers published subsequently on the YF-23 show a pretty immature design supported by
pretty immature modeling as indeed the Dem/Val sealed envelope process exposed.

Modeling was so immature at McAir that their management would, to their folly,
repeatedly ignore CFD data on the Super Bug.
 

marauder2048

"I should really just relax"
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
2,330
Reaction score
77
PaulMM (Overscan) said:
I posted some time ago the full winner announcement press conference. It's in the YF-23 thread. Gates was pretty clear even in front of the press that they had more confidence in LM to manage the program, that LM was the low bidder and that both planes performed similarly with only small nuances.
You did embolden the statements attributed to Gates right?

Even that's a pretty crude paraphrasing of what Rice said:

The success of the demonstration validation phase and this formal evaluation process is also
demonstrated by the fact that the evaluators were able to bring to me as the sole selection
authority four awardable contracts, each of which represented acceptable proposals that met
Air Force requirements. However, in evaluating the engine and airframe proposals one combination
clearly offered better capability with lower cost, thereby providing the Air Force with a true best value.
https://www.c-span.org/video/?17677-1/defense-department-news-briefing

ATF is somewhat unique in that the source selection managers (uniformed and civilian) are
well known by full name and have even written about the process and in some cases are still
involved in acquisition.

Sundog and others are, without evidence, really accusing these people of a crime.
We should be careful about such things.
 

overscan

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 27, 2005
Messages
11,606
Reaction score
1,077
However, in evaluating the engine and airframe proposals one combination clearly offered better capability with lower cost, thereby providing the Air Force with a true best value.
I see what you mean. I certainly don't believe that the F-23 was necessarily the better proposal, and Northrop were "robbed" of the win somehow. Looking cooler doesn't it was actually better.

I guess this depends on what he meant by capability. Does it mean that the F-22 was a better airframe than the F-23 would have been? Maybe the avionics package was superior, maybe it was actually more stealthy (you can't necessarily just eyeball this, and YF-22's shape is several years later in formulation than the YF-23 which was just refined from the earlier proposal configuration), or maybe they just had a great team who were more likely to deliver. Without access to the same information they had, its hard to say.
 

Ogami musashi

CLEARANCE: Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2006
Messages
304
Reaction score
2
marauder2048 said:
PaulMM (Overscan) said:
Ogami musashi said:
I posted some time ago the full winner announcement press conference. It's in the YF-23 thread. Gates was pretty clear even in front of the press that they had more confidence in LM to manage the program, that LM was the low bidder and that both planes performed similarly with only small nuances.
Both planes met the criteria. It was a straight traffic lights system - if the spec was met, it was green, no credits for exceeding. It seems likely that each contender exceeded different criteria, and yes there may have been gaming of the criteria themselves.

If the USAF requirement asked for supercruise at Mach 1.5 and your design did Mach 1.8, for example, you didn't score higher.

All planes were green on all requirements, so they picked the cheaper bid from the company with the better recent track record on delivery.
Someone remotely familiar with the source selection process would immediately recognize that it was Donald Rice and then
not go on to make unfounded inferences.
Yes you are right, it was Rice, my bad. Doesn't change the validity of the video though.
 

Sundog

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 2, 2006
Messages
2,631
Reaction score
42
The YF-23 was demonstrably stealthier than the YF-22. In fact, Lockheed Martin accused Northrop of not having flight control gaps, etc, on their RCS model when they heard how much better the RCS value was on the YF-23 than the YF-22. So Northrop drove a USAF General to inspect their pole RCS model and he saw Northrop actually did have all of the requisite features. Everything I read in Aviation Week at the time of the fly-off indicated that the YF-23 was quite superior to the YF-22, in terms of performance. When the down select occurred, I don't know of a single person who wasn't shocked by the choice.

In fact, one of the main reasons given at the time for selecting the YF-22 over the YF-23 was due to the Naval variant of the YF-22 being deemed better than the Northrop NATF. Then, within a few weeks of the down select, the NATF was cancelled. The Aviation Week editors said everyone needed to fall in line to back the YF-22 and to not question the choice. The whole episode wreaked of politics.
 

LowObservable

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2006
Messages
2,169
Reaction score
27
From a contemporary account ;D:

When the ATF decision was announced, the media naturally wanted to hear why the F-22 was the better aircraft. But nobody wanted to tell them.

One of the first questions was: "Can't you give us some summary of why this plane is better than the other plane?" USAF Secretary Donald Rice answered:

"The two aircraft... are an excellent demonstration of what we were trying to accomplish.. We ended up with two aircraft, each one of which could meet the Air Force's technical specidications and technical requirements."

Which of the two aircraft was Stealthier? Maj Gen Joseph W. Ralston, director for tactical programs at USAF headquarters, broke hard right:

"When you try to compare various airplanes on their Stealth characteristics and try to sum it up on a bumper-sticker, it invariably gets us into trouble all the time. It's frequency-dependent, it's aspect-dependent, it's elevation-dependent. Both aircraft met the requirement."

Tactical Air Command chief Gen Mike Loh was faced with the question: "From a pilot's standpoint, which is the better airplane?" General Loh tried the right-hand break again:

"Both designs met the basic elements that were laid out for the demonstration/validation program, and I'm sure the Lockheed/Pratt & Whitney combination will be an outstanding air-superiority fighter for all of our pilots."

But Loh's adversary was not so easily foxed. "But which one's better...which one would you want to fly?" Loh hauled over into a vertical rolling scissors: "I want to get the program moving so we get one to fly."

Even then, the attacker wasn't quite done: "Which is the better one?" Loh pulled a high-speed yo-yo: "Since I didn't fly the prototypes, I don't want to answer that."

We are not sure what happened next. We think that Loh's interlocutor suffered a G-LOC episode and impacted the floor of the Pentagon auditorium.
 

LowObservable

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2006
Messages
2,169
Reaction score
27
More seriously, it was reported at the time of the selection that:

- There was little if any credit for exceeding requirements
- Lockheed's team had a better execution plan - the A-12 was held as an example of what happens without a good plan. Rice: "the contractor team, and the proposals that that team provided, offers greater capability to execute this program successfully than we judged was the case in the other alternatives."
- The source selection authority judged that Lockheed/P&W would be less costly through production.

What was less appreciated at the time was the trouble Northrop was in on the B-2's signatures. I believe this was not disclosed until a year later.
 

sferrin

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2011
Messages
12,227
Reaction score
402
I would sure like to hear "the straight dope" from Paul Metz some day.
 

icyplanetnhc

CLEARANCE: Confidential
Joined
Aug 16, 2015
Messages
99
Reaction score
3
Website
aiaa.seas.ucla.edu
Paul Metz spoke of YF-23 in very high terms but based on the presentations that I've heard, I think the flight performance achieved during the flight test was relatively modest and they were more concerned about how well flight data corroborated with predictions. It may have been that the predicted performance would have been truly astounding.

Or maybe I'm wrong. Someone ought to invite Paul Metz over a bar for a few drinks and see what that opens up.
 

BillRo

CLEARANCE: Confidential
Senior Member
Joined
May 12, 2008
Messages
167
Reaction score
26
Paul Metz and Jim Sandberg talk about the YF-23 at the Western Museum of Flight a couple of years ago.


 

sublight is back

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Messages
739
Reaction score
9
There is a general who was part of the process who said "if an aircraft looked right it flew right". He actually stood behind his assertion that the F22 was selected partly based upon what it looked like.
 

Sundog

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 2, 2006
Messages
2,631
Reaction score
42
sublight is back said:
There is a general who was part of the process who said "if an aircraft looked right it flew right". He actually stood behind his assertion that the F22 was selected partly based upon what it looked like.
Which makes no sense to my, because I thought the YF-22 was butt ugly.
 

icyplanetnhc

CLEARANCE: Confidential
Joined
Aug 16, 2015
Messages
99
Reaction score
3
Website
aiaa.seas.ucla.edu
sublight is back said:
There is a general who was part of the process who said "if an aircraft looked right it flew right". He actually stood behind his assertion that the F22 was selected partly based upon what it looked like.
Firstly, I would be shocked if the decision really came down to something so trivial, so consider me skeptical. Secondly, if that were the case then I have to question his taste, as the YF-22 was not a good looking aircraft.
 

marauder2048

"I should really just relax"
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
2,330
Reaction score
77
Big contributors to source selection:

CFD was far more mature at Boeing, Lockheed and GD and particularly at GD where
they had more experience with supercruising concepts e.g. SCAMP/F-16XL. Boeing was
much better with avionics integration than McAir or Northrop.

CFD was immature at Northrop and very immature at McAir and remained so.
As a consequence, the YF-22 flight data was far closer to the sealed envelope predictions
and they were able to retire major Air Force concerns during Dem/Val e.g. hot gas ingestion.

Sources:

"Computational Fluid Dynamics in the Design of the YF-23 ATF prototype"
"F/A-18E/F Trajectory Improvement Study"


In contrast, YF-23 bay acoustics were not good and failed to meet predictions;
scaling the bay to meet the weapons capacity of the F-22 was very problematic
as was scaling the YF-23 overall to accommodate a real radar and real sensors.

The YF-23 was a very thermally and electrically challenged aircraft that could barely accommodate
off-the-shelf flight computers due to their power dissipation. Its massive control surfaces
drove complex actuators and a hydraulic system that were hot, exquisite, fragile and looked to have
little growth margin. These thermal and electrical challenges were fundamental to the planform/control
scheme.

Sources:

"High Performance Fighter Fly-By-Wire Flight Control Actuation System" AIAA 92-1123
"The ATF YF-23 Vehicle Management System" AIAA 92-1076
 

Ogami musashi

CLEARANCE: Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2006
Messages
304
Reaction score
2
You source are purely technical (i have them as well) and do not contain any information on the selection process nor on the state of CFD at LM vs Northrop.
The predicted vs observed ratio was one highlight of the YF-23 program.

The selection process was certainly based on a myriad of parameters that until disclosed (if ever), will stay a bit mysterious.
 

Jeb

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Jul 2, 2007
Messages
263
Reaction score
15
Look at the weapons bays. The YF-23 system was much, much riskier because it was reliant on a nesting trapeze system to get the requisite number of AMRAAMs into its internal cavity. It also didn't have Sidewinder bays in the test aircraft and was going to require a fuselage stretch to make that happen. Compare that to the YF-22 system which put all of its missiles in positions where a failure in one or multiple actuators didn't block any other missiles from firing, plus the Sidewinder bays were in place.

If you're looking to buy a fighter/bomber, buy the one that's got the simplest ordnance release system. "Clever" just gets you another A-5 Vigilante.
 

Airplane

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Oct 3, 2015
Messages
432
Reaction score
1
Northrop came to the table with an x-plane science project. Lockheed came with a plane that with a few modifications was essentially ready for duty even without all of the changes that it eventually was given. Lockheed met the requirements. Less risk. No fuss, no muss. End of story.
 

NeilChapman

Interested 3rd party
Joined
Dec 14, 2015
Messages
925
Reaction score
18
Airplane said:
Northrop came to the table with an x-plane science project. Lockheed came with a plane that with a few modifications was essentially ready for duty even without all of the changes that it eventually was given. Lockheed met the requirements. Less risk. No fuss, no muss. End of story.

Hmmm. But was it less risk, no fuss, no muss?
 

Airplane

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Oct 3, 2015
Messages
432
Reaction score
1
NeilChapman said:
Airplane said:
Northrop came to the table with an x-plane science project. Lockheed came with a plane that with a few modifications was essentially ready for duty even without all of the changes that it eventually was given. Lockheed met the requirements. Less risk. No fuss, no muss. End of story.

Hmmm. But was it less risk, no fuss, no muss?
The only way to know is to go back in time and source NG and see the how the results shake out (then compare). Given politics, the USAF would have still only been allowed to buy 187 copies ASSUMING that by the time Obama was in office a sufficient quantity had been built (I don't remember the exact build numbers & years). IF by that time the F-23 program was suffering delays because of developmental issues, THEN the USAF would have gotten LESS than 187 copies.

Its a real shame that the USAF could not sneak in a brand new fighter into production the way NAVAIR got superbug. Too bad there are not superbeagles or vipers roaming the skies.

EDIT

...and why the love affair with which is better, the 22 or the 23?

It's the modern day question from the 80s of which is better, the 15 or the 14? And in many ways this analogy it correct whereby the 23 is like the 14 and the 22 is like the 15. Like the 14, the 23 was a 3 nacelle design that was a lifting body. And the 22 is CLEARLY very similar to the 15.

The 23 was a true successor to the 14 with its lifting body design and widely spaced engines, and the 22 clearly a successor to the 15.

They were both good planes for their missions but neither one was better for every circumstance and occasion. The last generation of tomcat drivers with its powerful engines and bombcat capability would have you believe the 14 was indeed superior to the 15 in EVERY situation, but.... we know that isn't correct.
 

Jeb

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Jul 2, 2007
Messages
263
Reaction score
15
Airplane said:
Its a real shame that the USAF could not sneak in a brand new fighter into production the way NAVAIR got superbug. Too bad there are not superbeagles or vipers roaming the skies.
This was the future that stealth broke.
 

Attachments

LowObservable

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2006
Messages
2,169
Reaction score
27
Ditto to Jeb.

Not only could the AF have obtained a SuperViper, but a third party would have paid for it. But the AF/OSD leaders regarded it as an alternative/competitor to "real stealth" which was being promised at an unbelievably low cost and rapid schedule.

At least they got the "unbelievable" bit right.
 

marauder2048

"I should really just relax"
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
2,330
Reaction score
77
It's especially depressing given the unbelievable number of cranked-arrow
or tailed-delta-canard + TVC or diamond-wing + CVT aircraft dominating the skies today.
 
Top