Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 (1990)

The F-15E's deep-strike mission is a radical departure from the original intent of the F-15 since it was designed as an air-superiority fighter under the mantra "not a pound for air-to-ground." The basic airframe, however, proved versatile enough to produce a very capable strike fighter. The F-15E, while designed for ground attack, retains the air-to-air lethality of the F-15, and can defend itself against enemy aircraft

Northrop: YF-23A Black Widow

Role Stealth fighter technology demonstrator
National origin United States
Manufacturer Northrop/McDonnell Douglas
First flight 27 August 1990
Status Canceled
Primary user United States Air Force
Produced 1989–1990
Number built 2

Northrop Millitary

Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 (1990)

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Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 (1990)

The Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 is an American single-seat, twin-engine stealth fighter aircraft technology demonstrator designed for the United States Air Force (USAF). The design was a finalist in the USAF’s Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) competition, battling the Lockheed YF-22 for a production contract. Two YF-23 prototypes were built, nicknamed “Black Widow II” and “Gray Ghost”.

In the 1980s, the USAF began looking for a replacement for its fighter aircraft, especially to counter the USSR’s advanced Sukhoi Su-27 and Mikoyan MiG-29. Several companies submitted design proposals; the USAF selected proposals from Northrop and Lockheed. Northrop teamed with McDonnell Douglas to develop the YF-23, while Lockheed, Boeing and General Dynamics developed the YF-22.


American reconnaissance satellites first spotted the advanced Soviet Su-27 and MiG-29 fighter prototypes in 1978, which caused concern in the U.S. Both Soviet models were expected to reduce the maneuverability advantage of contemporary US fighter aircraft.[1] In 1981, the USAF requested information from several aerospace companies on possible features for an Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) to replace the F-15 Eagle. After discussions with aerospace companies, the USAF made air-to-air combat the primary role for the ATF.[2] The ATF was to take advantage of emerging technologies, including composite materials, lightweight alloys, advanced flight-control systems, more powerful propulsion systems, and stealth technology.[3] In October 1985, the USAF issued a request for proposal (RFP) to several aircraft manufacturers. The RFP was modified in May 1986 to include evaluation of prototype air vehicles from the two finalists. 


  • A proposed naval variant of the YF-23 known as the NATF-23 was considered as an F-14 Tomcat replacement. The original YF-23 design was first considered but would have had issues with flight deck space handling, storage, landing and catapult launching reasons requiring a different design.

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Northrop YF-23 Black Widow (1990)

In 2004, Northrop Grumman proposed a YF-23-based bomber to meet a USAF need for an interim bomber, for which the FB-22 and B-1R were also competing. Northrop modified aircraft PAV-2 to serve as a display model for its proposed interim bomber. The possibility of a YF-23-based interim bomber ended with the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, which favored a long-range bomber with much greater range.[42][43] The USAF has since moved on to the Next-Generation Bomber program.

Japan launched a program to develop a domestic 5th/6th generation (F-3) fighter after the US Congress refused in 1998 to export the F-22


  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 67 ft 5 in (20.55 m)
  • Wingspan: 43 ft 7 in (13.28 m)
  • Height: 13 ft 11 in (4.24 m)
  • Wing area: 900 sq ft (84 m2)
  • Empty weight: 29,000 lb (13,154 kg)
  • Gross weight: 51,320 lb (23,278 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 62,000 lb (28,123 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney YF119 or General Electric YF120 afterburning turbofan engines, 35,000 lbf (160 kN) with afterburner
  • Maximum speed: 1,260 kn (1,450 mph, 2,330 km/h) at high altitude
  • Maximum speed: Mach 2.2
  • Cruise speed: 921 kn (1,060 mph, 1,706 km/h) / Supercruise: Mach 1.6
  • Range: 2,424 nmi (2,789 mi, 4,489 km)
  • Combat range: 651–695 nmi (749–800 mi, 1,206–1,287 km)
  • Service ceiling: 65,000 ft (20,000 m)
  • Wing loading: 57 lb/sq ft (280 kg/m2)
  • Thrust/weight: 1.36

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Both YF-23 airframes remained in storage until mid-1996, when the aircraft were transferred to museums.[39] YF-23A PAV-1, Air Force serial number 87-0800, registration number N231YF, is on display in the Research and Development hangar of the National Museum of the United States Air Force near Dayton, Ohio.[46] YF-23 "Spider" on display at the Western Museum of Flight, 2017 YF-23A PAV-2, AF ser. no. 87-0801, registration number N232YF, was on exhibit at the Western Museum of Flight until 2004,[39] when it was reclaimed by Northrop Grumman and used as a display model for a YF-23-based bomber.[47] PAV-2 was returned to the Western Museum of Flight and was on display as of 2010 at the museum's new location at Zamperini Field, Torrance, California.

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