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

Sundog

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Bhurki

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Wrong link (there is an extra letter ("S") at the end that should not be there).
Here it is:
View: https://youtu.be/_MUK241uZHM
"Northrop was an engineering company that hired managers. Lockheed was a managing company that hired engineers."

"Northrop had one chief engineer for ATF but had multiple managers while Lockheed had one manager and multiple chief engineers for ATF."

Take it for what its worth.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Wrong link (there is an extra letter ("S") at the end that should not be there).
Here it is:
View: https://youtu.be/_MUK241uZHM
"Northrop was an engineering company that hired managers. Lockheed was a managing company that hired engineers."

"Northrop had one chief engineer for ATF but had multiple managers while Lockheed had one manager and multiple chief engineers for ATF."

Take it for what its worth.

You obviously didn't understand his point.

He contrasted the Northrop and Lockheed ATF presentations, where Northrop's was all about the technical details of the planned plane, and Lockheed's which was all about the management of the program, to say that Northrop was engineering led and Lockheed management led. Then he observed Northrop had one chief engineer throughout the ATF program, but the managers came and went, whereas at Lockheed, they had the same manager throughout ATF but the chief engineer kept changing, which confirmed his assessment of where the power lay.

Now, I'm not entirely sure I'd agree with his argument entirely, but it isn't contradictory.

It's a great interview.
 

Bhurki

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Being an engineer myself, its not too hard to understand what he really said.
I was just quoting him.

There were certainly lapses in presentation from Northrop's side, not just in providing use cases for tactical use, but overall counter-air doctrine.

TacAir was used to F-15 like doctrine of slinging missiles at high speed following up with closing in dog fighting. So, in essence, what they 'really wanted', as opposed to what they proposed wasn't communicated properly to the manufacturers in what Abell said, 'Air Force wanted a dogfighter that was stealthy'.

Lockheed's proposal did exactly that without purposefully trying to change AF use case domain, while Northrop's proposal would've made the TacAir change its ways in the same way they are doing vis-a-vis going from F-16 to F-35, i.e. less focus on close range manuevering and a fundamental change in BFM envelope.

A gem of an interview, anyways.
 

apparition13

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"Northrop was an engineering company that hired managers. Lockheed was a managing company that hired engineers."

"Northrop had one chief engineer for ATF but had multiple managers while Lockheed had one manager and multiple chief engineers for ATF."

Take it for what its worth.
It just reinforces my intuition that the wrong aircraft and company was chosen. If I'm choosing an aircraft I want an engineer in charge.
Being an engineer myself, its not too hard to understand what he really said.
I was just quoting him.

There were certainly lapses in presentation from Northrop's side, not just in providing use cases for tactical use, but overall counter-air doctrine.

TacAir was used to F-15 like doctrine of slinging missiles at high speed following up with closing in dog fighting. So, in essence, what they 'really wanted', as opposed to what they proposed wasn't communicated properly to the manufacturers in what Abell said, 'Air Force wanted a dogfighter that was stealthy'.

Lockheed's proposal did exactly that without purposefully trying to change AF use case domain, while Northrop's proposal would've made the TacAir change its ways in the same way they are doing vis-a-vis going from F-16 to F-35, i.e. less focus on close range manuevering and a fundamental change in BFM envelope.

A gem of an interview, anyways.
Except - the Air Force did communicate what they wanted, fast, long range, stealthy, to kill without ever being seen. And that's what Northrop gave them.

I also posted a link to an aircrew interview video with Dozer, who was one of the guys responsible for developing the tactics for the F-22,

and guess what, it was fly stealthy, fly high, supercuise, and kill them before they know you're there. Which the YF-23 did better than the YF-22, and I'd lay odds the F-23 would also have done that better than the F-22, with more range as well.
 
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Bruno Anthony

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"Northrop was an engineering company that hired managers. Lockheed was a managing company that hired engineers."

"Northrop had one chief engineer for ATF but had multiple managers while Lockheed had one manager and multiple chief engineers for ATF."

Take it for what its worth.
It just reinforces my intuition that the wrong aircraft and company was chosen. If I'm choosing an aircraft I want an engineer in charge.
Being an engineer myself, its not too hard to understand what he really said.
I was just quoting him.

There were certainly lapses in presentation from Northrop's side, not just in providing use cases for tactical use, but overall counter-air doctrine.

TacAir was used to F-15 like doctrine of slinging missiles at high speed following up with closing in dog fighting. So, in essence, what they 'really wanted', as opposed to what they proposed wasn't communicated properly to the manufacturers in what Abell said, 'Air Force wanted a dogfighter that was stealthy'.

Lockheed's proposal did exactly that without purposefully trying to change AF use case domain, while Northrop's proposal would've made the TacAir change its ways in the same way they are doing vis-a-vis going from F-16 to F-35, i.e. less focus on close range manuevering and a fundamental change in BFM envelope.

A gem of an interview, anyways.
Except - the Air Force did communicate what they wanted, fast, long range, stealthy, to kill without ever being seen. And that's what Northrop gave them.

I also posted a link to an aircrew interview video with Dozer, who was one of the guys responsible for developing the tactics for the F-22,

and guess what, it was fly stealthy, fly high, supercuise, and kill them before they know you're there. Which the YF-23 did better than the YF-22, and I'd lay odds the F-23 would also have done that better than the F-22, with more range as well.
Doesn’t the story go Lockheed told the AF “they could have an airplane with stealth, maneuverability, and range. Pick any 2”?

Speaking of F-22 range. Any word on how often supercruise is used and for how long?
 

rooster

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Wow this whole atf competition won't die.
I don't recall the source, but the AF needed to keep Lockheed as a airframe builder as opposed to having an air force built by Northrop. But it turns out the AF got Lockheed airframes for both its new fighters and Northrop got only 21 articles built of the 2.
Then the 22 moldline was basically production intent whereas the 23 would be completely reworked.
Then there was the fact that the production 22 was projected to be just as fast as the production 23.
The 23 was going to have longer legs but both met or exceeded all the requirements with the 22 being less risky technologically.
 

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"Northrop was an engineering company that hired managers. Lockheed was a managing company that hired engineers."

"Northrop had one chief engineer for ATF but had multiple managers while Lockheed had one manager and multiple chief engineers for ATF."

Take it for what its worth.
It just reinforces my intuition that the wrong aircraft and company was chosen. If I'm choosing an aircraft I want an engineer in charge.
Being an engineer myself, its not too hard to understand what he really said.
I was just quoting him.

There were certainly lapses in presentation from Northrop's side, not just in providing use cases for tactical use, but overall counter-air doctrine.

TacAir was used to F-15 like doctrine of slinging missiles at high speed following up with closing in dog fighting. So, in essence, what they 'really wanted', as opposed to what they proposed wasn't communicated properly to the manufacturers in what Abell said, 'Air Force wanted a dogfighter that was stealthy'.

Lockheed's proposal did exactly that without purposefully trying to change AF use case domain, while Northrop's proposal would've made the TacAir change its ways in the same way they are doing vis-a-vis going from F-16 to F-35, i.e. less focus on close range manuevering and a fundamental change in BFM envelope.

A gem of an interview, anyways.
Except - the Air Force did communicate what they wanted, fast, long range, stealthy, to kill without ever being seen. And that's what Northrop gave them.

I also posted a link to an aircrew interview video with Dozer, who was one of the guys responsible for developing the tactics for the F-22,

and guess what, it was fly stealthy, fly high, supercuise, and kill them before they know you're there. Which the YF-23 did better than the YF-22, and I'd lay odds the F-23 would also have done that better than the F-22, with more range as well.
Both the F-22 and F-23 met the defined AF requirements. I worked at Northrop on the YF-23 from Pico Rivera and EAFB. We joked with the ADP CTF guys we knew that we liked their F-15 with internal weapons bays and their dorsal speed brake which was ineffective. Also, our F-23 avionics architecture met/exceeded Pave Pillar (again AF requirement) requirements where the F-22 did not. Even though we did not win ATF, we learned alot and applied our tech to other programs. Its also interesting that some LMCO and new current foreign military platforms echo Northrop shaping, we had it right.
 

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Both the F-22 and F-23 met the defined AF requirements. I worked at Northrop on the YF-23 from Pico Rivera and EAFB. We joked with the ADP CTF guys we knew that we liked their F-15 with internal weapons bays and their dorsal speed brake which was ineffective. Also, our F-23 avionics architecture met/exceeded Pave Pillar (again AF requirement) requirements where the F-22 did not. Even though we did not win ATF, we learned alot and applied our tech to other programs. Its also interesting that some LMCO and new current foreign military platforms echo Northrop shaping, we had it right.

Interesting you note Northrop's LO techniques. In that interview with Rick Abell listed above, in the Q & A section, he mentions a story about the YF-23. He said when the artist illustrations were released for the first time, Lockheed's head of LO saw it and went back their aero-department and complained to them that they told him they couldn't do what Northop did. It's at 2hrs 17 min in the full video for those interested. Between Abell's comments (he was happy with both designs) and Metz's comments it seem to me that LM did not win on technical grounds but either on industrial base or program management grounds. Final note, Metz has been adamant in more recent interviews that the Raptor wasn't more maneuverable than the F-23. He did say in one interview that it (Raptor) may have a small advantage in the very slow speed arena. FWIW

As a aside, I do think that the sidewinder arrangement is superior on the Raptor as it allows the seeker a much higher FOV , particularly above the airplane. If they ever get a helmet I suspect it would enable HOB shots across the turn circle whereas in the production version of the F-23 I don't see how it would be possible and appears to me to have a quite limited FOV for the sidewinders.
 

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I don't see how anything can be drawn from all of this discussion. The f-22 is a production plane, modified during the emd phase, the yf-23 a demonstrator.
I don't see how you can say a demonstrator with so little envelop explored (see metz' book), no weapon load out, not all the fuel, neither avionics would have been superior to a fully developed plane (the f-22). Anecdotes from back in the days compare with the yf-22, just as unfinished as the yf-23.
During the announcement of the winner it was clearly stated that lockheed was the low bidder, and that they thought lockheed would better manage the program.. Which was quite in line with how northrop was seen at the time.
I don't understand why people see the yf-23 as a fully superior plane when, as all demonstrators, it only demonstrated what was needed to show. In the dem/val the af wanted to see whether northrop/lockheed could mitigate technological risks have good program management. The dem/val was not a performance fly off competition.
 

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If we compare the tabular data, then in the" long-range air combat " F-22 v F-23 are equal. In the" dogfight", the Raptor has an advantage of 26%
According to the total combat effectiveness of the F-22, it is better by 14.5 %
 

Hydroman

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Both the F-22 and F-23 met the defined AF requirements. I worked at Northrop on the YF-23 from Pico Rivera and EAFB. We joked with the ADP CTF guys we knew that we liked their F-15 with internal weapons bays and their dorsal speed brake which was ineffective. Also, our F-23 avionics architecture met/exceeded Pave Pillar (again AF requirement) requirements where the F-22 did not. Even though we did not win ATF, we learned alot and applied our tech to other programs. Its also interesting that some LMCO and new current foreign military platforms echo Northrop shaping, we had it right.

Interesting you note Northrop's LO techniques. In that interview with Rick Abell listed above, in the Q & A section, he mentions a story about the YF-23. He said when the artist illustrations were released for the first time, Lockheed's head of LO saw it and went back their aero-department and complained to them that they told him they couldn't do what Northop did. It's at 2hrs 17 min in the full video for those interested. Between Abell's comments (he was happy with both designs) and Metz's comments it seem to me that LM did not win on technical grounds but either on industrial base or program management grounds. Final note, Metz has been adamant in more recent interviews that the Raptor wasn't more maneuverable than the F-23. He did say in one interview that it (Raptor) may have a small advantage in the very slow speed arena. FWIW

As a aside, I do think that the sidewinder arrangement is superior on the Raptor as it allows the seeker a much higher FOV , particularly above the airplane. If they ever get a helmet I suspect it would enable HOB shots across the turn circle whereas in the production version of the F-23 I don't see how it would be possible and appears to me to have a quite limited FOV for the sidewinders.
The F-22 does have a much better, straight forward weapons bay configuration, our F-23 bays definitely had some carriage risks. We also had a much different FCAS architecture as well. To sum it up, both aircraft would do the job well and more.
 

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If we compare the tabular data, then in the" long-range air combat " F-22 v F-23 are equal. In the" dogfight", the Raptor has an advantage of 26%
According to the total combat effectiveness of the F-22, it is better by 14.5 %
Where is this from?
 

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The F-22 does have a much better, straight forward weapons bay configuration, our F-23 bays definitely had some carriage risks. We also had a much different FCAS architecture as well. To sum it up, both aircraft would do the job well and more.
Could you fill us in on what FCAS is? A couple questions if you don't mind, and I understand that you may not be able to answer these. Would the EMD version of the F-23 been able to match the 2 + 6 AAM configuration that the Raptor has? What was the objective empty weight of the F-23A? The Raptor gained about 12%* from contract award to production, which from the outside seems pretty high. I know the objective of the ATF program was a 55klb combat weight which would suggest that the F-23A design goal was in the same ballpark as the Raptor's. The final design submitted is a huge bird however and I wasn't sure if that supposition is correct. Could you shed some light on that?

*From what I can piece together, the objective weight for the F-22A was ~17,200kg, but ballooned to 19,660kg.
 

Ogami musashi

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*From what I can piece together, the objective weight for the F-22A was ~17,200kg, but ballooned to 19,660kg.
Be cautious with USAF weight numbers, while they read "empty" they are often equipped weight (with unused fuel, pylons, fluids etc..).
Up to a point, Tyndall AFB website listed the raptor as ~18tons class.
For the loadout, hydroman will know better, but aldo spadoni told me that they did study clipped fins AAMs, but back then, the D (which was the version meant to have the clipped fins) was indefinitely delayed so the EMD proposal were made with A & Bs. He also told me about A/G missions, which would have been with JDAMs (don't know which version) on one side of the main bay, missiles on the other.
But more importantly, the EMD was just ONE of the configurations. When the proposal was submitted, you had an iteration (more or less severe) each day. So no one knows what the F-23A would have ended like.
However, the riskier, less flexible weapon bay was a known compromise by Northrop back then.
 

Hydroman

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The F-22 does have a much better, straight forward weapons bay configuration, our F-23 bays definitely had some carriage risks. We also had a much different FCAS architecture as well. To sum it up, both aircraft would do the job well and more.
Could you fill us in on what FCAS is? A couple questions if you don't mind, and I understand that you may not be able to answer these. Would the EMD version of the F-23 been able to match the 2 + 6 AAM configuration that the Raptor has? What was the objective empty weight of the F-23A? The Raptor gained about 12%* from contract award to production, which from the outside seems pretty high. I know the objective of the ATF program was a 55klb combat weight which would suggest that the F-23A design goal was in the same ballpark as the Raptor's. The final design submitted is a huge bird however and I wasn't sure if that supposition is correct. Could you shed some light on that?

*From what I can piece together, the objective weight for the F-22A was ~17,200kg, but ballooned to 19,660kg.
Flight Control Actuation System
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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This discussion will run forever, its pretty pointless. Rick Abell's view was that you never know which bidder is going to win as it depends on so many variables besides the technical aspects, so his job as Air Force Chief Engineer was make sure both companies proposals did what the Air Force needed. Boyd said exactly the same thing on LWF - he visited all the contender companies to make sure they were all going to propose a design that met his requirements because you never knew which airplane would get selected and on what grounds.

I'm not sure you'll ever know what the deciding factors for ATF were, and speculation about USAF preferring the more maneuverable fighter is doubly speculative, assuming F-22 was more maneuverable (only at slow speeds, I think) and assuming that was a deciding factor. As others have said, more likely it was industrial and management factors.
 

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The performance of the F-117A during the first Gulf War was also a factor as to why the F-23 lost the ATF competition, and the B-2 program was also starting to have problems at that time as well.
 

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Be cautious with USAF weight numbers, while they read "empty" they are often equipped weight (with unused fuel, pylons, fluids etc..).
Up to a point, Tyndall AFB website listed the raptor as ~18tons class.
For the loadout, hydroman will know better, but aldo spadoni told me that they did study clipped fins AAMs, but back then, the D (which was the version meant to have the clipped fins) was indefinitely delayed so the EMD proposal were made with A & Bs. He also told me about A/G missions, which would have been with JDAMs (don't know which version) on one side of the main bay, missiles on the other.
But more importantly, the EMD was just ONE of the configurations. When the proposal was submitted, you had an iteration (more or less severe) each day. So no one knows what the F-23A would have ended like.
However, the riskier, less flexible weapon bay was a known compromise by Northrop back then.
Hill AFB had a unclassified document that stated that the empty weight was 43,340lbs. This was before it became publicly disclosed. The document disclosed the reference configuration but for the life of me I don't recall the specifics. It could've included unusable fuel and would make sense since the document was discussing ramp weight and structural requirements for the ramps. In the end that doesn't change the metric a huge amount, the jet still gained 8-12% weight during EMD. I'm more curious about the target weight for the F-23 and any potential weight gain it may have had.

Re: F-23 bays. I recall we've discussed this before. I should have phrased the question by asking if he felt that their designs would have had any trouble matching the Raptor's loadout. It would be fascinating to see how much the design iterated after submission. Recall Barry Watt's said some years ago that the F-23 could've carried 2000lb weapons and perhaps this is in reference to those iterations. Something that DP231 can't from what I can see.
 

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Be cautious with USAF weight numbers, while they read "empty" they are often equipped weight (with unused fuel, pylons, fluids etc..).
Up to a point, Tyndall AFB website listed the raptor as ~18tons class.
For the loadout, hydroman will know better, but aldo spadoni told me that they did study clipped fins AAMs, but back then, the D (which was the version meant to have the clipped fins) was indefinitely delayed so the EMD proposal were made with A & Bs. He also told me about A/G missions, which would have been with JDAMs (don't know which version) on one side of the main bay, missiles on the other.
But more importantly, the EMD was just ONE of the configurations. When the proposal was submitted, you had an iteration (more or less severe) each day. So no one knows what the F-23A would have ended like.
However, the riskier, less flexible weapon bay was a known compromise by Northrop back then.
Hill AFB had a unclassified document that stated that the empty weight was 43,340lbs. This was before it became publicly disclosed. The document disclosed the reference configuration but for the life of me I don't recall the specifics. It could've included unusable fuel and would make sense since the document was discussing ramp weight and structural requirements for the ramps. In the end that doesn't change the metric a huge amount, the jet still gained 8-12% weight during EMD. I'm more curious about the target weight for the F-23 and any potential weight gain it may have had.

Re: F-23 bays. I recall we've discussed this before. I should have phrased the question by asking if he felt that their designs would have had any trouble matching the Raptor's loadout. It would be fascinating to see how much the design iterated after submission. Recall Barry Watt's said some years ago that the F-23 could've carried 2000lb weapons and perhaps this is in reference to those iterations. Something that DP231 can't from what I can see.
The thing I liked about the 23 was the bays and the sr71-ish fuselage and if they wanted a strike version a simple fuselage plug looked feasible. But I'm just a fanboy!
 

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An interview was just posted this month with Rick Abell, who was the USAF chief engineer for the ATF contest
the interview talks about both the YF-22 and YF-23 as he was in charge of the contest, but I will just post it here since the YF-23 bits were interesting

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B77HEioDtFI


I found interesting that he set the requirements to be pretty basic and broad, because he believed if he added more they wouldn't meet it
and congress was going to add in their own changes anyways.

one of the designs he disliked was one aircraft that launched missiles off a trapeze, so the pilot would see the missiles fly by their windshield. Could not tell which company's design he was referring to (there were 6-7 proposals?)

he seemed impressed with Northrop/McDs proposal.
the numbers YF-22 and 23 were chosen by a coin toss

its a bit long but informative
 

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I think it's an edited version of an interview published earlier this year.

The ventral trapeze installation had vibrational problems and had to be substituted by a catapult.
 

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I seem to recollect that at the time the selection was announced among the limited information provided by USAF was that Lockheed/Boeing had much better documentation than Northrop/MDD. Also MDD saying that they took some responsibility for that because having built a lot more aircraft for the US, they knew how much detail the gov't liked, but they didn't press their team leader (Northrop) enough on that issue.

Not knowing the truth of that, but if the aircraft were that close more documentation could swing it because it makes the selection easier to defend against the inevitable questioning.
 

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TacAir was used to F-15 like doctrine of slinging missiles at high speed following up with closing in dog fighting. So, in essence, what they 'really wanted', as opposed to what they proposed wasn't communicated properly to the manufacturers in what Abell said, 'Air Force wanted a dogfighter that was stealthy'.

Lockheed's proposal did exactly that without purposefully trying to change AF use case domain, while Northrop's proposal would've made the TacAir change its ways in the same way they are doing vis-a-vis going from F-16 to F-35, i.e. less focus on close range manuevering and a fundamental change in BFM envelope.
Well I've once heard that there was greater emphasis on high-altitude maneuverability on Raptor's 2D TVC rather than on turn rates on BFM. Would be great if I can find something regarding this but for now it's just a hearsay.
 

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TacAir was used to F-15 like doctrine of slinging missiles at high speed following up with closing in dog fighting. So, in essence, what they 'really wanted', as opposed to what they proposed wasn't communicated properly to the manufacturers in what Abell said, 'Air Force wanted a dogfighter that was stealthy'.

Lockheed's proposal did exactly that without purposefully trying to change AF use case domain, while Northrop's proposal would've made the TacAir change its ways in the same way they are doing vis-a-vis going from F-16 to F-35, i.e. less focus on close range manuevering and a fundamental change in BFM envelope.
Well I've once heard that there was greater emphasis on high-altitude maneuverability on Raptor's 2D TVC rather than on turn rates on BFM. Would be great if I can find something regarding this but for now it's just a hearsay.
Well its both. One rock and two birds. The Northrop AV had such large controls that it could save weight and cost and eliminate then when trust reversers were dropped but of course thre was no post stall maneuvering
 

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Despite all the detailed argument on this thread I think the YF23 is a bit like the P1121 and the Supertiger on this site. We like them because they look so good.
I use this picture taken at random from Google to make the point.
 

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