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

donnage99

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flateric said:
as Paul Metz once said - not exact citation, but factually close -'we <at Northrop> still can't understand the reasons why we lost' Well, I suppose they were asking, but didn't get answers, yeah? And they were much more appropriate people to get the answers than we are.

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

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

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

COPYRIGHT 1991 Access Intelligence, LLC.

MCDONNELL PRESIDENT SAYS F-23 TEAM STRAYED FROM ATF PROPOSAL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

flateric

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Good point here, hands off - phrase 'emphasis on the competing contractor teams' ability to perform as advertised than on the performance of their respective air vehicle prototypes during the fly-off' I've seen many times. Some Kafkian style words - you can think that you have underperformed in every aspect you suspect - and for every question if it was a fault, you'll receive an answer 'yes, it was where you was weaky!' For example, for this MDC guy weak point was, surely, software.

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

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

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

lantinian

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I also remember Bill Sweetman description of 'green/yellow/red lights' points system of decision-making process during ATF competition.
That kind of system for score points might be very easy to read but its damn discriminatory in terms of best overall aircraft effectiveness. While it shows easily how actuals performance differed from the requirements, it does not show which combination of colors gave the best aircraft for the mission

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

There was also a Blue color for considerably exceeding requirements.

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

donnage99

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Flateric, what do you mean by "good point here, hands off?" ???
 

flateric

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airrocket

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MCD YF-23 teamed with Northrop at the request of the air force. Which is a twist of irony as Northrop involvement was later mentioned as a reason the proposal did not win. Hmmmm.....strange games.

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

F-14D

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lantinian said:
I also remember Bill Sweetman description of 'green/yellow/red lights' points system of decision-making process during ATF competition.
That kind of system for score points might be very easy to read but its damn discriminatory in terms of best overall aircraft effectiveness. While it shows easily how actuals performance differed from the requirements, it does not show which combination of colors gave the best aircraft for the mission

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

There was also a Blue color for considerably exceeding requirements.

It was know that both planes met or exceeded every requirements. So, secretary Donald Rice, saw a lot of green and some blue colors but no red or even green. But we also know that the F-22A proposal was slightly less expensive. If both planes seams to have similar color ratings and one was less expensive, it not difficult to see, why he picked the YF-22.
This description of the selection process is about right. Keep in mind that under this methodology (which was publicly announced in the solicitation), as long as the aircraft met requirements, the Secretary of the Air Force could use any criteria he wanted to make the selection. That's no doubt why Northrop said they never understood why they lost. The criteria for selection basically was, "Whatever we want", so the only thing AF really had to disclose was, "We wanted this one". The consensus by both amateurs and experts ever since was that the Northrop/MDD aircraft was better in almost all performance areas. However, since the YF-22 also met or exceeded the requirements, even if it is true that it didn't do it to the level that the YF-23 design did, AF was free to pick it. Note that AF never said it was the lower cost, and under the announced selection rules it wasn't required to select the lower cost proposal.

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


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


It's no secret that the powers-that-be at the AF Washington level were more comfortable with Lockheed than Northrop. It's also been said that Northrop/MDD built the plane that AF said it wanted while Lockheed, being more experienced in dealing with The Way Things Work, built the plane AF really wanted.
 

donnage99

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I doubt thrust vectoring was a reason it lost. If it was a significant factor, it would have been included in the requirement, but it did not. Who wants low speed maneuverability like airshow cobra for a supercruise aircraft? And the AF already said that both did not have significant advantages over one another, which mean that the yf-22's agility was not better than yf-23 by significant number.

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

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

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

flateric

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B-2 cost overruns were not only sole problems those days. They were also trying hard to meet specific RCS parameters that did not fit to what they were expecting. But this is sidebar note...
 

F-14D

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donnage99 said:
I doubt thrust vectoring was a reason it lost. If it was a significant factor, it would have been included in the requirement, but it did not. Who wants low speed maneuverability like airshow cobra for a supercruise aircraft? And the AF already said that both did not have significant advantages over one another, which mean that the yf-22's agility was not better than yf-23 by significant number.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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One can't discount "management" approaches and how they interact with the buyer. I had a friend involved from the NATF perspective and he said he was turned off by Northrop/McDD's arrogance. Of course, he didn't think much of their NATF design, although he never told me what it's configuration was; the only thing I know of the configuration is what's been written in this thread.

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

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

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

Spring

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The USAF has a tradition (and a policy, actually) with the different aircraft manufactures, they always will say "both were great aircrafts, so it was a close competition"

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

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

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

Remember it was Lockheed's flight control system that caused the crash of the prototype
I agree, the YF-22 was both inertial and aerodynamic nonstable, while the YF-23 had a FBW "forced control" to avoid pitch/roll, but was in general terms more stable, in general the F-22 needed a more complicated FBW system.


USAF felt more comfortable with, and as long as their proposal met the basic requirements, always wanted Lockheed to win. The selection criteria permitted just that
The USAF does not choice the "less technologically risky" airframe the YF-16/17 is a clear example of that, or wanted Lockheed to win, a claim that just dosnt have any support, but you say it so easely!

For the ATF competitiom, just the best airframe was selected
 

lantinian

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I cannot agree more with F-14D point of view.

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

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

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

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

F-22 probably got blue marks for its management plan while F-23 got only green.
 

Spring

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Although the F-22 program experienced overruns and late delivery, a good portion (though by no means all) of that was due to intentional Congressional and Administration stretchouts in the 1990s.
I would not blame the congress or goverment at all.

From a original goal of 12000kg empty weight, to a real weight of 19700kg (!), the things went very complicated -and very wrong- , actually would have been better to restart the program with another competition, cancelling the original one, sadly the PR campaign and Lockheed contacts kept alive that withe elephant, the problem is that most likely the yf-23 would have been even worse.
 

flateric

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If you will remember how much did competitors invest their own funds in Senior Sky, restart would be very *cold*.
AFAIR, Northrop VP Jomes said that they will never ever play such games with USAF - because they just couldn't afford another one like this (Northrop team have invested more than billion of own funds, and those were not your today's dollars).
 

flateric

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Pavel Bulat, PhD, Baltic State Technical University «VOENMEKH» named after D. F. Ustinov
http://www.voenmeh.ru/

My translation can be *poor* - Flat.

"In the case of YF-22/ F-22, missile exhaust plume surely affect on intake flow, especially in the case of Sidewinder launch. For reduction of such an interference, AIM-9 at launch conducts rather artful trajectory: several moments after launch, missile tail all time looks aside from the plane CL, missile comes back to normal trajectory at several tens of metres from the plane. AMRAAM does not create problems for intakes only at launch in the bottom hemisphere, but it is normal, since one of the main scenario of this plane usage was to avoid low altitude part of flight envelope. From what I’ve seen, during all warfighting imitations F-22 try to get as high as it is possible.

There are exist, of course, launching problems on a moderate supersonic speeds. You just can’t pass on with these shock waves. F-22 has fixed-geometry, uncontrollable intakes, so, they are very sensitive to problems of a laminar flow. Air flow suction systems are not exist – or, at least, not visible, - and intake flow control range, judging by *huge* auxiliary blow-in inlet doors, is limited. On the other hand, Raptor’s intakes are pretty oversized, therefore it has massive inlet pressure recovery backup. Plus, inlet tracts are very long, that allows to get acceptable speed profile in front of the compressor.

AFAIR, during competition YF-22 performed only launches at subsonic speeds. Meantime, YF-23 has simulated missile launcher extraction at speeds up to M=1.5. There are no real problems with launch at subsonic speeds, as both contenders intake configurations is quite conservative.

But at M=1.2-1.3 YF-23 is obviously much more preferable design. As well known, her leading edge forming the forward lip of a simple fixed-geometry two-shock intake system. Meantime, open weapons bay doors also form system of oblique shock waves. As the weapon bay is moved forward of the wing leading edge, so-called system of overtaking shock waves forms, which at these Mach numbers is characterized by high stability to distortions. Shock waves reject flow aside from an aircraft C/L, therefore the main part of exhaust gases will just pass by.

At launch, YF-23 intakes are covered from exhaust gases by weapon bay doors. YF-22 has nothing of it. So now Lockheed still tries hard to make weapon bays to work properly at least at M=1.2. For F-22 intakes, *cheeks* of forward fuselage are used for preliminary compression, and they generate sequence of isoentropic acentric compression waves. With any disturbance applied, all the shock wave orchestra is collapses."
 

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Spring said:
Although the F-22 program experienced overruns and late delivery, a good portion (though by no means all) of that was due to intentional Congressional and Administration stretchouts in the 1990s.
I would not blame the congress or goverment at all.

From a original goal of 12000kg empty weight, to a real weight of 19700kg (!), the things went very complicated -and very wrong- , actually would have been better to restart the program with another competition, cancelling the original one, sadly the PR campaign and Lockheed contacts kept alive that withe elephant, the problem is that most likely the yf-23 would have been even worse.
In the 1990s, virtually every development, not just the F-22, and production (where possible) program was restructured so that the really big funding "bulge" would come after the 2000 elections. While this may lower the amount needed in any given year, it pushes costs overall way up. The F-22 didn't really need to take as long as it did to get into service. There were things to be developed, sure, but that's true of any program. Look at the actual pace of the R&D, and you'll see it wasn't that rapid. This was by design, given the funding and government directed speed. Whenever you do this, costs go way up. It wasn't the only reason, but it was a big reason.
 

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Spring said:
The USAF has a tradition (and a policy, actually) with the different aircraft manufactures, they always will say "both were great aircrafts, so it was a close competition"

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

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

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

Remember it was Lockheed's flight control system that caused the crash of the prototype
I agree, the YF-22 was both inertial and aerodynamic nonstable, while the YF-23 had a FBW "forced control" to avoid pitch/roll, but was in general terms more stable, in general the F-22 needed a more complicated FBW system.


USAF felt more comfortable with, and as long as their proposal met the basic requirements, always wanted Lockheed to win. The selection criteria permitted just that
The USAF does not choice the "less technologically risky" airframe the YF-16/17 is a clear example of that, or wanted Lockheed to win, a claim that just dosnt have any support, but you say it so easely!

For the ATF competitiom, just the best airframe was selected

Addressing only your last point. I didn't say they chose the less risky. I said that we can't automatically assume, as some have here and elsewhere, that it was less risky. The controversial statement I made was that USAF felt more comfortable with Lockheed and, barring the YF-22 being a total disaster (which it wasn't and isn't), was going to pick them.

Regarding the YF-16 vs YF-17, that was, I believe, a congressionally mandated flyoff. Frankly, with the YF-16 being closer to what USAF envisioned, a macho single engined fighter, and more importantly, using an engine already in USAF inventory, the results were inevitable. One indication of where USAF's head was at was that during the competition, Northrop/GE stated that given the timeframe during which flight tests would take place, the YJ101 engines would not be able to put out the thrust the airframe was designed for, but would produce it once the engines were further in development. USAF said they understood and would take that into consideration and allow for it when making its determination. However, when the results were announced, one thing specifically cited as a reason to make down the Northrop entry was that the YF-17 with the YJ101s was underpowered.

BTW, given the YF-16 and YF-17, I think USAF made the right choice.
 

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In the case of the YF-16/YF-17, the YF-17 was selected over the Boeing competitor to be built precisely because it used two engines and hence represented a different approach. From this point onwards, the YF-17 was only ever going to win if the YF-16 proved to be a disaster as the YF-16 was much nearer to what the USAF wanted, as F-14D has pointed out. Perhaps a more interesting competition would have been two single engined F-100 powered designs going head to head.
 

lantinian

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The Assumption that YF-23 was more risky than YF-22 is ironic and cannot be further from the truth.
The F-22 EMD proposal was based on a design borne out of the 3 month hectic redesign in mid 1987. It's overall appearance bore more commonality with the GE ATF submission than with Lockheed's one.

On the other hand, Northrop's YF-23 design was a slow and well though out evolution of concepts Northop submitted in the early 80's. Actually if one tries, he could see general similarity between YF-23 and even the YF-17. The basic fighter philosophy is there: 2 engines, underwing inlets, V-tail, tapered wing.

So, while the YF-23 looked like an alien design to the outsider observers, it was the YF-22 design that was alien to Lockheed's own legacy and experience.
 

donnage99

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Thanks to Flateric for providing the inlet and missile launching question!

As for the current debate:

Folks! I think we don't have a clear definition of what 'risky' mean. 'Risky' does not just mean innovative, new, or unproven design. 'Risky' also mean that a design lacks sufficient explanation to tackle the challenges of the specific design to the client who's buying the product. That was the meaning of the word I used. The yf-23 was risky to the Air Force, not because it looks alien-like ('cause seriously, the evaluation team weren't bunch of amateurs who went "dude, that airframe looks kinda weird, it must be risky") or used innovative and unproven technology, but that it didn't provide enough documentation to the Air Force that made them confident in the team's ability to meet the challenges of their design in the development phrase. That's what made the design risky to the Air Force. And in the wake of Cold War coming down, and Congress to sweep in like a bringer of death, the safest route is the least possible to get cancelled.

As for Dick Cheney's wife, what? Dick Cheney had no voice in the decision to choose which contractor.

As for you guys who think that yf-22 was riskier (not the definition I used), you were only taking into account of fly control system or just based your argument on a very oversimplified perspective on very complex matter. There were many other factors beside just flight control system. To conclude which one is riskier, one must look into every technological approaches used in each airframe. To use just the flight control method and jump to the conclusion that yf-22 was riskier is not so sensible. Do I know which design was riskier (to your definition of the word)? No, 'cause I don't have full access to both design's technology. So to jump to a conclusion on this matter is really a huge leap of faith.

However, one thing is clear, the yf-23 was "riskier" in the definition that the USAF chose to define.
 

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donnage99 said:
Thanks to Flateric for providing the inlet and missile launching question!

As for the current debate:

Folks! I think we don't have a clear definition of what 'risky' mean. 'Risky' does not just mean innovative, new, or unproven design. 'Risky' also mean that a design lacks sufficient explanation to tackle the challenges of the specific design to the client who's buying the product. That was the meaning of the word I used. The yf-23 was risky to the Air Force, not because it looks alien-like ('cause seriously, the evaluation team weren't bunch of amateurs who went "dude, that airframe looks kinda weird, it must be risky") or used innovative and unproven technology, but that it didn't provide enough documentation to the Air Force that made them confident in the team's ability to meet the challenges of their design in the development phrase. That's what made the design risky to the Air Force. And in the wake of Cold War coming down, and Congress to sweep in like a bringer of death, the safest route is the least possible to get cancelled.

As for Dick Cheney's wife, what? Dick Cheney had no voice in the decision to choose which contractor.

As for you guys who think that yf-22 was riskier (not the definition I used), you were only taking into account of fly control system or just based your argument on a very oversimplified perspective on very complex matter. There were many other factors beside just flight control system. To conclude which one is riskier, one must look into every technological approaches used in each airframe. To use just the flight control method and jump to the conclusion that yf-22 was riskier is not so sensible. Do I know which design was riskier (to your definition of the word)? No, 'cause I don't have full access to both design's technology. So to jump to a conclusion on this matter is really a huge leap of faith.

However, one thing is clear, the yf-23 was "riskier" in the definition that the USAF chose to define.

Since I was the one who brought up the reference to risk as regards the YF-22 aerodynamic controls, let me address your thoughts. I believe you misinterpreted what I was trying to say. I truly don't know which design entailed more risk. The point I was making was that in some of the posts here and elsewhere there seemed to be a belief that because Northrop/MDD tended to have more innovation in their design, it probably was riskier. I simply was stating that we couldn't automatically assume the YF-22 was less risky, we don't know; the control system was brought up as an example of one component of it that could be higher risk than on the YF-23. We just don't know.

Regarding what another person said about the YF-23 being marked down because it's NATF might not be as good... Well, with the way USAF was trying to marginalize carrier aviation, and the rumors that SECDEF Cheney was not a fan of naval aviation, having a less effective NATF design might actually be considered an asset! ;)

In case, it's instructive to keep in mind how the selection was structured. There was no flyoff, there was no real weights required in the various criteria. It was just red, yellow, green and occasionally blue. It was set up so that the Secretary of the Air Force could pick who ever he wanted for whatever reason he wanted, with no requirement for having to ever disclose exactly why the choice came down the way it did. Both bidders agreed to this. Based on things from before, during and after the evaluation, it's my humble belief that USAF always felt more comfortable with Lockheed and was always going to pick them for ATF. But that's just me. It's moot now anyway.
 

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One indication of where USAF's head was at was that during the competition, Northrop/GE stated that given the timeframe during which flight tests would take place, the YJ101 engines would not be able to put out the thrust the airframe was designed for, but would produce it once the engines were further in development. USAF said they understood and would take that into consideration and allow for it when making its determination. However, when the results were announced, one thing specifically cited as a reason to make down the Northrop entry was that the YF-17 with the YJ101s was underpowered
Do not understand what you are trying to tell here; are you saying the USAF cheated Nortroph because they did say "i understand" and "would take into consideration" to a Northrop uncertainly promise?

"Further in development" is the typical excuse of the designers/salesmen when they don't reach the original goal ! ;D, same thing as some mythic "what if" claims of the Black Widow!

The USAF has become too polite with the designers, but it must be, is about national/political pride, and saying "your aircraft is a crap" could hurt the PR (read polititians attack) for other projects

If the "risky" word is still allowed, i would say, the yf-23 was risky, because it needed a greater overhaul to meet the USAF requirements, than the F-22
 

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If the "risky" word is still allowed, i would say, the yf-23 was risky, because it needed a greater overhaul to meet the USAF requirements, than the F-22
The YF-23 not only met the ATF requirements, it exceeded them. In fact both the YF-22 and YF-23 exceeded some of the requirements, some more than others.

The YF-22 was tough to operate more like stealthy and faster F-15, while Northrop was ahead of the time in optimizing the YF-23 for operational tactics similar to the ones F-22A uses today.

If there was anything the USAF was not comfortable with, it was the how they were going to use the aircraft and how that was too reliant on stealth.
 

donnage99

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lantinian said:
The YF-23 not only met the ATF requirements, it exceeded them. In fact both the YF-22 and YF-23 exceeded some of the requirements, some more than others.

The YF-22 was tough to operate more like stealthy and faster F-15, while Northrop was ahead of the time in optimizing the YF-23 for operational tactics similar to the ones F-22A uses today.

If there was anything the USAF was not comfortable with, it was the how they were going to use the aircraft and how that was too reliant on stealth.
I don't think each prototype's difference in performance and its approach toward fighting its enemy was one of the reasons that influenced the final selection. The requirements of the ATF were pretty well defined in its use of stealth and supercruise to outweight its opponent in BVR with first look/shot/kill (and of course, deep penetration). The tactics F-22A uses today as far as killing enemy from afar like a sniper has been the foundation of the ATF vision since the beginning, reflecting through the fact that thrust vectoring and HMD, which were essential to traditional closed in dogfight were opted out of the requirements.

Everyone, including both of us, and mr. president of MDD pretty much agreed that it was paper work that won the competition for Lockheed. :D

Some pictures of the beautiful plane is what we need, not beating over a dead horse. ;D
 

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Spring said:
One indication of where USAF's head was at was that during the competition, Northrop/GE stated that given the timeframe during which flight tests would take place, the YJ101 engines would not be able to put out the thrust the airframe was designed for, but would produce it once the engines were further in development. USAF said they understood and would take that into consideration and allow for it when making its determination. However, when the results were announced, one thing specifically cited as a reason to make down the Northrop entry was that the YF-17 with the YJ101s was underpowered
Do not understand what you are trying to tell here; are you saying the USAF cheated Nortroph because they did say "i understand" and "would take into consideration" to a Northrop uncertainly promise?

"Further in development" is the typical excuse of the designers/salesmen when they don't reach the original goal ! ;D, same thing as some mythic "what if" claims of the Black Widow!

The USAF has become too polite with the designers, but it must be, is about national/political pride, and saying "your aircraft is a crap" could hurt the PR (read polititians attack) for other projects

If the "risky" word is still allowed, i would say, the yf-23 was risky, because it needed a greater overhaul to meet the USAF requirements, than the F-22
I'm not completely sure what you're going for here. All I was doing with this illustration (of the YF-16 and YF-17, not YF-22 and YF-23) was trying to show that when USAF really wanted one plane then they would make sure they got it. In this case, saying that they understood that they weren't giving enough time to prodcue definitive J101s but they would allow for it (and this would be GE's promise, not Northrop's), and then coming back and faulting the engines because they didn't perform like definitive engines. They wanted the YF-16, and this littel ploy was really unnecessary, because the engine choice alone was enough to make it the right choice. As far as GE would have delivered, remember that they grew the J101 into the F404, one of the great figher engines of the modern era.


Not sure if one can say that YF-23 would require more "overhaul". We know the intakes would probably change, there would be some rework of the exhausts, the "humps" for the thrust reversers would go and the forward missile bay would be added. Still, the overall mold line would stay about the same. The YF-22 required some pretty significant revision between the YF and the F. Hard to say...

On ATF, based on some things that went down over that period, it's my personal belief that USAF always wanted Lockheed-Boeing to win, Northrop-MDD (which although teaming was mandated was a voluntary teaming, unlike Grumman-Northrop and GD-MDD on the ATA) were at a disadvantage from the get-go.

Regardless of how they got there, and regardless of whether or not the "right" or "wrong", today we are where we are. We did get a good plane out of it. Would like to see more about how an EMD and production F-23 would be (and any more info about the derivative NATF beyond it was to be a canard), realizing that it's all an intellectual exercise.
 

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Would like to see more about how an EMD and production F-23 would be (and any more info about the derivative NATF beyond it was to be a canard), realizing that it's all an intellectual exercise.
Wasn't the production/EMD three or two view drawing posted earlier in this thread? I know I have it in a book, with the serrated lip shock cone inlets. I believe they also moved the engines closer together. Not right next to each other, but there was definitely less of a trough between them as they moved them closer. I would love to see pics of models of their final submission for the production contract, but they haven't released any, to the best of my knowledge.
 

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The requirements of the ATF were pretty well defined
If it was the case we were going to see a flyoff. We didn't. Actually the Aifroce modified some of its requirements even after the Dem/Val winners selection in 1986, like the need for trust reversers, or normal fligt take of weight of 60,000lb vs 50,000lb. Not to mention the fact they postponed the first flight date requirements several months to give Lockheed time to catch up.

The unique thing about the ATF is that the Airforce allowed the manufacturers to intrepid some requirements the way they saw fit and to demonstrate their approach in the dem/val. Northrop and Lockheed build airframes that supported each ones specific concept not the Airforce final requirements. For example, while YF-23 was stealthy, it was did not meet the stealth requirements itself. Only the full scale RCS model did.

As a result the F-22A and the F-23A were to be very different aircraft in terms of performance and capability. Those characteristics translate in different operational use and tactics. Specifically, the following things would be different: optimum cruise altitude and speed, distance between wingmens, engage tactics, engage envelopes, enemy no escape envelope, missile launch conditions, weapons bay rearming procedure and especially maneuver capabilities.

It not a something mentioned a lot, but F-23A would have been capable of some very unique maneuvers and not capable of others F-22A can do.

While I agree that this might not have influenced the final selection directly, USAF certainly had a preference and might have made recommendations as a result.
 

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Some factoids that came to mind, related/unrelated to discussion

a). According to some insiders, YF-23s had some problems with recovery to stright&level from negative AoA.
b). Interesting USAF official's denial to discuss weapon load of YF-23 that I've found in Edwards AFB local newspaper issued in the roll-out day. When he was asked if YF-23 weapon load is comparable to that one of F-15, he murmured something like 'F-15 weapon load was dictated by challenges of 70s', so one can assume that YF-23 has less. Thus quietly rejects some statements I've seen that someone has seen YF-23 weapon bay mockup that held six or even eight missiles in variants of AMRAAM/AIM-9 mix. Another source was saying of YF-23 weapon bay as of 'Lancasterish'
 

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flateric said:
Some factoids that came to mind, related/unrelated to discussion

a). According to some insiders, YF-23s had some problems with recovery to stright&level from negative AoA.
b). Interesting USAF official's denial to discuss weapon load of YF-23 that I've found in Edwards AFB local newspaper issued in the roll-out day. When he was asked if YF-23 weapon load is comparable to that one of F-15, he murmured something like 'F-15 weapon load was dictated by challenges of 70s', so one can assume that YF-23 has less. Thus quietly rejects some statements I've seen that someone has seen YF-23 weapon bay mockup that held six or even eight missiles in variants of AMRAAM/AIM-9 mix. Another source was saying of YF-23 weapon bay as of 'Lancasterish'
Regarding b), that just sounds like typical evasiveness of the day, sort of like, "How fast does that SSN go"? "In excess of 25 knots". It is truthful, but doesn't disclose anything Plus, F-15 had been designed around AIM-7F, which the ATF wouldn't ever carry. If I recall, the requirement for ATF was that internally it had to carry at least four AIM-120As (in reality six AIM-120Cs, but at the time the development of a clipped fin AIM-120 hadn't yet been publicly disclosed) and two AIM-9s. Naturally, more could be carried externally if stealth wasn't as important on a particular mission. So, the F-23 would have to have been able of carrying at least that, or that would have been a big enough deficiency to eliminate it right off the bat. Most sources I've seen have indicated the YF-23, and we can assume the production F-23 had a large bay, I heard it described, "like a B-25"
 

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True, true! They did change around by dropping off the reverse engine and such, but what I meant was the its underline requirements for tactical approach in air to air combat and deep strike were well defined and reflect the Air Force emphasis on using stealth and supercruise in BVR rather than thrust vectoring and HMD in closed in dogfight, as both of these were not required as a must-have. Another point is that the Air Force already said that yf-22 is not more maneuverable than yf-23 by any significant number (and likewise for yf-23 in term of stealth), so I think yf-22's agility was not a factor that influenced the final decision.

As for seeing a flyoff, can anyone give me a rigid definition of a flyoff? Since as far as my knowledge, I think I can pretty much argue that there was a flyoff for the ATF.he contractors' proposals could meet the requirements.
 

donnage99

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Sundog said:
Would like to see more about how an EMD and production F-23 would be (and any more info about the derivative NATF beyond it was to be a canard), realizing that it's all an intellectual exercise.
Wasn't the production/EMD three or two view drawing posted earlier in this thread? I know I have it in a book, with the serrated lip shock cone inlets. I believe they also moved the engines closer together. Not right next to each other, but there was definitely less of a trough between them as they moved them closer. I would love to see pics of models of their final submission for the production contract, but they haven't released any, to the best of my knowledge.
Wasn't it just fanart?
 

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Another point is that the Air Force already said that yf-22 is not more maneuverable than yf-23 by any significant number (and likewise for yf-23 in term of stealth)
I would argue very successfully that YF-23 was a lot more stealthy than YF-22. It was half a generation ahead in terms of shape provided stealth. You will find the F-22A to borrow a lot of features from the YF-23 and the divertless inlets on the F-23A were not not that much different from those on the F-35 half a decade later.

Northop curved approch originally demonstrated with the have demonstrators was starting to pay off, while the Lockheed faceted approach was starting to show age.

Wasn't it just fanart?
It was based on a reliable data. Read those posts again!

I think I can pretty much argue that there was a flyoff for the ATF
There was no flyoff. Period. I do not have the program manager quote from the "Origins of the 21st century fighter" book but I am sure someone will provided in the forum shortly.
 

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lantinian said:
I would argue very successfully that YF-23 was a lot more stealthy than YF-22. It was half a generation ahead in terms of shape provided stealth. You will find the F-22A to borrow a lot of features from the YF-23 and the divertless inlets on the F-23A were not not that much different from those on the F-35 half a decade later.

Northop curved approch originally demonstrated with the have demonstrators was starting to pay off, while the Lockheed faceted approach was starting to show age.
I was guessing you gonna reply this way, since I've seen countless posts like this. There is alot more to the technology evolved in reducing radar cross section than just meet-the-eye. Though as limited as my knowledge allow me, I do believe that the yf-23 was a more innovative design, especially with its avionic suits and new composite materials,but your way of thinking is a oversimplification of a very complex matter.

It was based on a reliable data. Read those posts again!
And it changed my statement, how?
I think I can pretty much argue that there was a flyoff for the ATF
There was no flyoff. Period. I do not have the program manager quote from the "Origins of the 21st century fighter" book but I am sure someone will provided in the forum shortly.
My intention was to question the popular belief of what a flyoff can mean. I knew that there was no "flyoff" to the definition that we all believe.
 

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donnage99 said:
True, true! They did change around by dropping off the reverse engine and such, but what I meant was the its underline requirements for tactical approach in air to air combat and deep strike were well defined and reflect the Air Force emphasis on using stealth and supercruise in BVR rather than thrust vectoring and HMD in closed in dogfight, as both of these were not required as a must-have. Another point is that the Air Force already said that yf-22 is not more maneuverable than yf-23 by any significant number (and likewise for yf-23 in term of stealth), so I think yf-22's agility was not a factor that influenced the final decision.

As for seeing a flyoff, can anyone give me a rigid definition of a flyoff? Since as far as my knowledge, I think I can pretty much argue that there was a flyoff for the ATF.he contractors' proposals could meet the requirements.
As you correctly point out, it's hard to find a really universal definition of a "flyoff". Greenly, though, most would think of it as taking two or more aircraft, and not only comparing them to the stated requirements, but also to each other and to the mission. Service crews could compare how each aircraft flew and what they liked, disliked and what needed to be improved or corrected. These flight tests would allow the customer to decide which aircraft really was "best" for their needs. A few examples of true flyoffs were the F8U-3 vs. F4H, AH-63 vs. AH-64 and A-9 vs. A-10.

ATF wasn't like that. The purpose of the flight tests was to validate that the aircraft would meet the manufacturers' claims and would be capable of meeting USAF requirements. Relative performance and capability was not compared in the flight tests (remember the red, yellow, green and blue). Service evaluation teams were completely separate. They could not compare notes, the two planes were never flown "against" each other and no pilot was allowed to fly both aircraft, which would be a necessary way to compare handling characteristics. In fact, and I could well be wrong, I think the only person ever to fly both designs was the chief test pilot for Northrop who later went on to fly the F-22 for Lockheed; and he never talked about how the two compared. The evaluation teams were to make no recommendation. All of this was part of the setup wherein the Secretary of the Air Force could pick whichever plane he wanted for whatever reason he wanted. Although a lot of discussions and analysis over the years has taken place, this has all been based on the bits of unofficial information leaked. Remember again that the announced reason for the decision did not reference the relative merits of the aircraft.
 

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Reminds me of something that ran in Interavia after the Lockheed win was announced:

Q: Got the time? A: Looks like rain.

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.
 

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There were 2 reasons to that: asking simple questions like "which is a better plane or more stealthy" and demanding a similarly simple answer is uneducated to start with.

Secondly, they weren't allow to give the answer. And I wonder why they had to avoid answering. Just do what Paul Metz did. He gave a very straight up answer that he's not allowed make direct comparison between the two and went on to say that if he never flown the yf-22 to start with. Strange!
 

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donnage99 said:
There were 2 reasons to that: asking simple questions like "which is a better plane or more stealthy" and demanding a similarly simple answer is uneducated to start with.

Secondly, they weren't allow to give the answer. And I wonder why they had to avoid answering. Just do what Paul Metz did. He gave a very straight up answer that he's not allowed make direct comparison between the two and went on to say that if he never flown the yf-22 to start with. Strange!
Sorry, can't agree. In most competitions the military agency does disclose the reasons for a choice and where one was better or not, at least as regards the decision. They did it in F-4/F8U-3, VFX, FX, AH-63/AH-64, A-9/A-10, YF-16/YF-17, X-32/X-35, etc. You know, they even did it for KC-X!

I suspect that the reasons are all related to the way the competition was run. At the risk of being redundantly redundant, the exercise was set up so that the selection criteria was whatever the Secretary of the Ari Force wanted it to be. This was pretty clear in the solicitation, but a lot of people didn't pay that close attention, hence the types of questions. They wanted to know which plane was better, not realizing that as long as the winner met the minimum criteria, that was not the major deciding factor. Aside from the Secretry's office, remember, comparisons were not to be made by anyone else. It's quite possible that at the time the Generals' themselves didn't know why Secretary Rice made the decision he did. It is telling, and maybe indicative, that Paul Metz, who has flown the YF-23 and EMD and later F-22s, won't comment.

The answers quoted here lend some credence to the popular consensus that the YF-23 outperformed the YF-22 in most areas. If it were they other way around, the Secretary would have non-specifically have mentioned some general areas. If the YF-23 did perform as has been opined in later years, though, it would raise all kinds of controversy to say, "Well, we had two to choose from. One exceeded our maneuverability criteria [they both did] and was faster, stealthier, went farther and carried more weapons. We picked the other one". So, just avoid the issue entirely.

Please remember, I am not dumping on the decision to go with F-22 (like I do constantly on the F/A-18E/F decision ). It's not the one I would have made (let me see...no, they didn't ask me), and personally I believe it was a forgone conclusion before either plane ever flew, but we did get a very good (albeit expensive) plane out of it. It's moot except as an intellectual discussion.

I'm still amazed, though, given the fact that everything leaks, why there's never been even a drawing of the Northrop/MDD NATF configuration published.
 

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You read me wrong, F-14D. I said that they weren't allowed, but I didn't dwell on any reason why they weren't allowed. Be that because of your hypothesis or any other reason, it wasn't what I was pointing at. Simply that they weren't allowed.

As for my point in saying those questions were stupid, I don't really get a clear idea of what you're saying. Are you agreeing or disagreeing?

Also, on the topic of blue, yellow, green evalution method. I thought Don Rice said that it was based on points method (not sure on this though). And the colors were only categories of the points much like back in school, you have your points being categorized into rank A, B, C, or F (fail). As for the contract indicates that contractors could not file protest, can anyone provide any source to validate that. Because as far as I know, no body would ever enter such a competition with that kinda deal, or at least, there would be protest during the dealing process (in which I've heard none).
 

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donnage99 said:
You read me wrong, F-14D. I said that they weren't allowed, but I didn't dwell on any reason why they weren't allowed. Be that because of your hypothesis or any other reason, it wasn't what I was pointing at. Simply that they weren't allowed.

As for my point in saying those questions were stupid, I don't really get a clear idea of what you're saying. Are you agreeing or disagreeing?

Also, on the topic of blue, yellow, green evalution method. I thought Don Rice said that it was based on points method (not sure on this though). And the colors were only categories of the points much like back in school, you have your points being categorized into rank A, B, C, or F (fail). As for the contract indicates that contractors could not file protest, can anyone provide any source to validate that. Because as far as I know, no body would ever enter such a competition with that kinda deal, or at least, there would be protest during the dealing process (in which I've heard none).
Maybe I did overinterpret your first point, if so I'm sorry. What I was disagreeing about is that those are perfectly valid questions in a non-technical,unclassified environment. Basically, the questioners were asking, "Why did you pick who you picked", expecting to hear where one team had a better airplane, or was of sufficiently lower cost that that was the deciding factor. This is what always happened before. When they didn't hear that, they started sniffing around. Since Stealth was so heavily emphasized and was so very fashionable, "Which plane was stealthier?", was a perfectly legitimate question. It wouldn't give anything away if the answer was "A" or "B", with no more details. But even that wasn't answered. It was very unusual, and and was certain to raise everyone's antenna, when the officials refused to say they picked the better airplane.

Let me give an example from more than 30 years prior. The USN had to pick between the F8U-3 and the F4H. They really would have loved to get both, but couldn't afford that. When the decision was made, it was revealed (without disclosing absolute values) that the F8U-3 was faster, accelerated better, was much more agile and had greater range. However, it was explained that the F4H met the Navy's requirements in those areas and could carry more armament, had greater potential for growth in versatility and was two crew and those were the reasons it was chosen. There was nothing like that in the ATF announcements and so the questions posed were perfectly legitimate. .



Regarding the color scheme vs. points, if you are using points, then you use points. If you just roll them into colors, you defeat the purpose of having points, depending on how big the range is for each color. Does a high end green beat a low end green? And how do you determine which is which? If the award was done on a points system (ala Sikorsky vs. Lockheed for AAFSS, which became the Cheyenne) they could have simply answered where Lockheed go more points. They didn't. In ATF, the teams were to independently report on how likely it was that the aircraft they were evaluating would meet the solicitation requirements and report in colors. I believe, although I may be 'misremembering', they were specifically not to assign points. They definitely were not to compare or make a recommendation. This facilitated the Secretary of the Air Force's ability to pick based on whatever criteria he wanted to use.

There was nothing in the contract, nor has anyone as far as I know alleged that the contractors could not file protests. Actually, it wouldn't be the contract that would have such a provision because if you don't win, you don't have a contract so can't be bound by any terms in it, it would be in the solicitation itself. Except in certain highly classified and unique instances, there's no way the Gov't can impose in a solicitation any such provision on bidders. What has been said was that in the ATF award there was no protest. That's because to protest you must have some basis to protest. You've got to be able to show how you should have been chosen because you met the requirements and evaluation criteria as stated of the solicitation better than the one to whom the contract was awarded. That's why Boeing's protest was sustained on KC-X. GAO did not say Boeing had a better plane or not, they ruled that based on what USAF said it wanted in the solicitation, USAF could not justify the award to EADS/NGG.

In the case of ATF, what was solicited was that a bidder had to meet certain minimums and that tests would be performed to verify the bidders' claims. It was clearly stated that the decision would be made by the Secretary of the Air Force based on whatever he deemed to be the best choice. There was no protest because they did exactly what they stated they would do. As long as a plane met the criteria of the solicitation, the Secretary was free to award or not award as he saw fit. It did not have to be to the most capable, or lowest cost, or least risk or whatever. Therefore, the only basis for a protest would be to allege that the competitor did not meet at least minimum requirements as stated in the solicitation, and there was nothing to indicate that about either proposal at the time of award. Therefore no protest, because there was nothing to protest.
 
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