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19 May 2006
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Thread to discuss Rockwell pre-ATF and ATF Projects.

Merged with existing Rockwell ATF threads by Overscan

If I knew how to add a pic, I'd attach it, but in a 1981 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology, there was a page of sketches of ATF designs. One that's had me intrigued is a Rockwell design & it is just a front view sketch. For the life of me, it looks very reminiscent of the front view of the fictional Soviet MiG-31 "Firefox", of Clint Eastwood's 1982 movie of the same title. Low wing, top mounted intakes, flat/chisel-like nose, twin outward canted verts & looks like low mounted canards. Maybe even a bit like an F-117 even. I can email a copy if anyone's interested. If some of you guys have an idea about additional info on this design, I'd love to know more.
This one?


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Well, as I understand it, the gent responsible for designing the movie's "Firefox" actually was a designer with Northrop. Rumor says he was involved with the YF-23 but I can't verify that.
That's interesting. Northrop did the design work for the two stealth aircraft in the movie "Stealth" also. They designed the aircraft and then hollywood added all the bells and whistles. Obviously it was more an exercise in "hey this would look cool" than anything as it's unlikely they'd want to show their latest ideas for the sake of Hollywood.
Frank - I'm not sure posting it will make your day, but obviously that's what you are looking for.
This is '78 Rockwell 'high-altitude supersonic penetrator' air-to ground concept, pre-ATF in a way it was proposed then (with emphasis on ATG missions). To my sorrow that's the best quality - and all - I have on this.


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Congrats! You have made my day, well, nearly, at least! THANK YOU! It doesn't look so much like Firefox in the drawing, but a very sexy aircraft, indeed! Could you tell me where it's from? Man, I really like this place!!

flateric said:
Frank - I'm not sure posting it will make your day, but obviously that's what you are looking for.
This is '78 Rockwell 'high-altitude supersonic penetrator' air-to ground concept, pre-ATF in a way it was proposed then (with emphasis on ATG missions). To my sorrow that's the best quality - and all - I have on this.
I bet it's the same canard aircraft which front view you have mentioned. Canard id hard to see but its just under US AIR FORCE markings.
Source is:

SILVERMAN, S. (Rockwell International Corp., Los Angeles, Calif.)


In: Diamond jubilee of powered flight: The evolution of aircraft design; Proceedings of the Conference, Dayton, Ohio, December 14, 15, 1978. (A79-16957 04-01) New York, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc., 1978, p. 132-139.
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Looks alike but I'm not sure - from AWST Ocrober 27, 1980
Courtesy Matej Furda


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I think they are two different, tho similar designs. The '78 drawing shows a different vertical tail arrangement, different canard location & arrangement & appears to be a two seat a/c. The 1980 drawing also has some sort of pod located on the belly. Thanks for this one too.

flateric said:
Looks alike but I'm not sure - from AWST Ocrober 27, 1980
Courtesy Matej Furda
HiMAT-derived fighter concepts from 1983


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From the magazine "National Geographic", January 1981, Vol. 159, No.1 at page 96:


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ATF studies


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Last few


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1975 designs


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Dan Raymer's pre-final ATF submission configuration


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I have some pics of the oblique wing design in this thread,

I'll see if I scanned in the entire article. With the new aeroelastic controls with the new adaptive wing technology oblique wings may become possible, but my understanding is they were having some problems the wing bending moments and the modes/frequency's they were seeing on the AD-1, at least that's what a grad student told me based on info he got on the program when I was in school and they had first started looking at them.
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Rockwell ATF via


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NASA-CR-4298 Conceptual Design Optimization Study

Contains an image of an early Rockwell ATF concept, ATMF Model D703-21


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ATF drawings courtesy of the designer, Dan Raymer...


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Rockwell fighter concept


The High-speed Aerodynamics Division at NASA Langley and the Rockwell International
Corporation are engaged in a cooperative effort to demonstrate the applicability of
new nonlinear analysis/design techniques for advanced supersonic wing design. The
effort was aimed at demonstrating the ability of a nonlinear analysis technique
based on solution of the supersonic potential flow equations. The cooperative
program included both the aerodynamic design and testing of several outboard wing
panels for an advanced supersonic fighter concept. The aerodynamic design of the
wing panels was a two step process. Standard linearized theory techniques were used
to determine a desiqn point ( s ) twist and camber distribution (s 1 . This was followed
by an assessment of the flow quality via the potential flow solver. If necessary
the surface contours could be modified in an iterative fashion to prevent flow
separation over the wing panels. The purpose of the experimental investigation was
to determine the effect on supersonic aerodynamic characteristics of increasing wing
sweep and provide a data base for code validation.
The wind tunnel model is shown installed in the Langley Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel and
is a preliminary design version of a Rockwell fighter concept. Five outboard wing
panel geometries were tested: a 48deg leading-edge sweep baseline; a 55deg leading-edge
sweep wing with a camber distribution biased toward a maneuver lift coefficient for
Mach 1.6; an uncambered 55deg reference wing; and two redesigned 48deg leading-edge
sweep wing panels (multi-operating point wings - subsonic, transonic, supersonic ) .
The redesigned 48deg wings represented a low twist cruise wing (M = 1.5) and a high
twist maneuver concept (M = 1.6). Testing was performed at Mach numbers of 1.5 to
2.5. Both longitudinal and lateral aerodynamic force characteristics were
measured. Surface pressure data were obtained at Mach numbers of 1.5 to 1.8 for the
55deg cambered wing and the 48deg low and high twist wings.


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it is the first time to me to know that the Rockwell D575 had a look like


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The Rockwell ATF proposal was (and still is) the best basic design idea done for the next gen fighter, at least for me, a lot of potential for such airframe, just lacked the stealthy tweaks, sad that Rockwell never did integrate them.

Any figures about the weights and performance?
Spring said:
at least for me

USAF seems not judging from aesthetics appearence when choosing aircrafts for them...and this is damn right
NAR choose not to go further with the concept mainly because they didn't want or either didn't have to invest own funds in ATF as DoD wanted from potential contractors
Since you at least did put a bit more lines in your replie...well i tell you, I'm not talking about aesthetics appearences, neither the ATF budget or whatever other idea other than the practicity, simplicity of the design, for example avoiding movable control surfaces, or using a single planar fuselage , i like the idea of the very separated engines , maybe for further development for a big bomb bay, or whatever, I'm talking about the airframe potential, not about issues that for me does not have any relevance when talking about the design.

Other thing is what did rockwell with that idea, they just did not exploited it to the 100%
Rockwell were very busy with the B-1/B-1B program during the formative ATF years, so manpower on ATF was limited, and the design they came up with was essentially completed about 1981, with Supercruise firmly in mind but before Stealth became a major factor. The design they produced could probably have met the original ATF RCS goal (0.5 sq m) but the revised requirements would have required a complete redesign, not a "few tweaks", at Rockwell's expense, at a time when they didn't really have the manpower to spare.

Both this and Rockwell's FX design are aesthetically very pleasing, for sure.
Spring said:
for example avoiding movable control surfaces,

you mean moving tailplanes? because aircraft can't fly without 'movable control surfaces'

Spring said:
i like the idea of the very separated engines

well, those who are care of maneuverability, don't like engines being far from a/c centerline and CG - this increases spin inertia while performing roll maneuvers

As Dan Raymer, chief designer of this bird, sometimes attends SPF, would be interesting to hear his insights regarding NAR ATF candidate. Hope, one day...
Re: Rockwell D-575 a with look like canard


also a look like D-575 but without the canard.


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Dan Raymer's autobiography contains very detailed information on the Rockwell ATF program. Recommended for all forum members :) The actual ATF submission made was significantly different to the well-known design (which was Dan Raymer's). As expected, this design was completed before the "stealth reset", and had significant amounts of money and effort expended on it when suddenly the ATF requirements became superstealthy. To meet the new requirements, Rockwell did a redesign including moving engines inboard while attempting to retain rough planform commonality to try not to invalidate all the wind tunnel results from the original design. Unfortunately no images of this design have yet been declassified.

Dan's original ATF wind tunnel is at the LAX Flightpath Museum (along with his Delta Spanloader model too).
yes, Dan describes final version as 'mix of YF-22 fuselage with YF-23 wings'
I don't remember seeing this one before I found this book today and running some searches here has not turned up anything. Has anyone got any additional information on this?

I found this in Airplanes of the Future by Don Berliner, Learner Publications, 1987
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