Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 Black Widow II


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Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 Black Widow II

The Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23A was a contender in the bid for an advanced tactical fighter to replace the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle in US Air Force service. The first of two prototypes flew in August 1990, the second aircraft being powered by General Electric YF120-GE-100 turbofan engines. The YF-23A was designed to be ultra-stealthy and incorporated many of the stealth features of the Northrop Grumann B-2 bomber, and all its planned weaponry was to be housed in an internal bay to reduce the radar signature. The two YF-23s successfully completed their flight test programme, but the Lockheed YF-22 was selected to meet the USAF requirement.

Robert Jackson "The Encyclopedia of Aircraft", 2004

Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 Black Widow II on YOUTUBE

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Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 Black Widow IIA three-view drawing (1673 x 1257)

 ENGINE2 x Pratt & Whitney YF119-PW-100, 155.7kN with afterburner
  Take-off weight29030 kg64001 lb
  Empty weight16783 kg37000 lb
  Wingspan13.2 m43 ft 4 in
  Length20.5 m67 ft 3 in
  Height4.2 m14 ft 9 in
  Wing area87.8 m2945.07 sq ft
  Max. speed2080 km/h1292 mph
  Ceiling19800 m64950 ft
  Range1200 km746 miles

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60 61-80 81-100, e-mail, 16.01.2023 13:09

Sorry but speaking as an aerospace engineer working in the industry, and having actually spoken with those involved in both the YF-22 and YF-23 programs and reviewing actual data, the statements about YF-23 have been exaggerated to an absurd degree. To be clear, I still believe the F-23 is overall better than F-22 for how USAF is using the aircraft, but the difference isn’t as dramatic as some people say. It’s an overall stealthier design with more range. But some of the claims of how much better the YF-23 was over YF-22 has been greatly exaggerated over the years.

The main thing thats pointed out is YF-23 is faster and stealthier than YF-22, but this needs some clarifying. The YF-23 top supercruise speed was only listed as Mach 1.6+, and probably Mach 1.72 that the YF-23 /YF120 was tested to. This certainly is quite a bit better than YF-22 /YF120 which did Mach 1.58, but the YF-22 had oversized vertical tails and was much fatter in some areas because the design was rushed, while the F-22 fixed a lot of these problems so it has much better drag and can reach around Mach 1.8 supercruise. Also the F-23 didn’t really slim down from the YF-23, the volume from the big nacelles was just redistributed since it’s already good in drag, and reportedly has more fuel than the F-22 so in terms of range its better, but again it’s probably not as dramatic as some say. To clarify about better stealth, I think the main advantage of F-23 over F-22 is not that it’s an absolute lower RCS, but it has low RCS from a wider range of angles because the leading and trailing edge angles on the F-23 are the same, so there are not as many spikes.

But in the end, per USAF ATF chief engineer Rick Abel, both are great designs and the difference isn’t big enough that a clearly inferior aircraft was chosen. This is unlike some programs where clearly the inferior aircraft was chosen, like the TFX.

Other comments are pure nonsense, no first flight will be setting any classified records for climb or speed, that goes against the basic principles of flight testing.


Richard Hood, e-mail, 26.07.2017 00:46

I just found out recently about the F23. I agree that it is a much better fighter than the F22. How about compared with the F35? That's my favorite one now.


Da Gunny, e-mail, 08.08.2016 02:38

There were many in the Marine Corps Aviation community who wanted the F-23, because of it's performance abilities and it's structural strength /adaptability for carrier and expeditionary airfield operations. Pentagon politics blew it for the Corps and Navy. Besides, the agreement was who ever lost the fighter contract would be subcontracted anyway. They are still trying to unscrew the lack of inter-service operability the f-22 /35 has suffered. Public specs on the f-23 are much lower than that aircraft's true capabilities.


Tom, e-mail, 28.01.2016 04:14

Check-out...F-22 (real speed),, then scroll down! Amazing if true, and somehow the "Real" stats were disclosed! Then it was disclosed, by one of the Test Pilots, that the F-23 was the "Fastest" plane he ever flew? Now, the intimation was that the F-23 was faster than the F-22! Wait until you see the F-22 speed results? I can understand the fast speed as the thrust to weight ratio is over 2 to 1 in the F-23, while the Ration for the F-22 is less than that!!


Dfens, e-mail, 29.12.2015 18:56

Since Northrop Grumman won the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRSB) program, the F-23 might get a second shot at life. Had NG lost LRSB, they probably would have been bought by Boeing or Lockheed. Now they should be around for a while and will very likely propose a version of the F-23 for the Navy's F-18 replacement program. I can't imagine the Navy turning this airplane down, even if just for the reason of rubbing the Air Force's nose in their mistake of choosing the F-22 over it.


Favin Perea, 22.08.2014 23:41

We need to overhaul our F-15 and F-16 fleet and supplement a combat hardened airforce with the YF-23. The YF-23 should number in the hundreds as to be able to supplement the U. S. Combat proven airforce


msgt [usaf ret.] b. laput, e-mail, 11.08.2014 17:58

instead of waisting hundreds of billons on the f-35 spend much less and purchase the yf-23.I just can't understand why our stupid defense department can't buy a fighter that is outstanding for once. No instead we have to satisfy some corrupt Politian who is most likey on the take!


Michel Sirois, e-mail, 23.02.2014 06:21

I thing the F23 Widow is the best between what we have today and better then F22.for me the speed is very important and F23 specialist says: F23 is very Fast more then F22.anyway God bless America.Michel


a.machia, e-mail, 25.08.2013 10:04

It is rumored that the US Navy may be interested in the F-23. I read this in an aviation magazine approx. 6 mos. ago.


cleo p landry, e-mail, 11.07.2013 02:19

we must be the best in the air


reuben, e-mail, 21.03.2013 06:36

only the Aurora "if its real"could beat. my Blackwidow!


Bill, e-mail, 16.03.2013 01:22

Northrop lost the F-23 contract for one reason...........They had the B-2. Lockheed was fading.


HyperSonic, e-mail, 29.03.2012 09:42

EVERY TIME ..(almost)an opportunity presents our country with a golden ticket to do the right thing, push the envelope a bit and demonstrate to the world we ARE as smart as we THINK we are, a couple idiots are allowed to be King & Adviser for a day and take full advantage of their new positions.Either some corrupt politicians or A sewing circle of "Depends" wearing "old Money" Geezers that disregard ALL the facts, better aircraft - the lack of conclusive WMD data, mass public opposition.Because their minds are made up


David P.Curcione, e-mail, 27.02.2012 19:19

1 Note: We Need to Build more Yf23-A Fighters passed all it tests too! Agreed! We need to build 2880 Yf23-A Fighters,Planes for the U.S.A.F too! Or the Air National Air Guard,Divsion of all in fifty States too!I agreed to hired moe people to get to work immeadly soon as possable too!c This Means more people needto go to work immeadly agreed! Message to the U.S.A.F Joint Chief of Staff Generals in charge too! There is alot of Air Force F-15s need to be replaced immeadly to replaced the old F-16s Jet Fighters are 4th Gerations Planes are 30 Years old to true They need to be Replaced Imeadly soon as possable newer Jet Fighters Jet Are YF-23_a Black widow 5th Gerations Faster Jet Fighters are needed for Defence of the U.S.A. & Nato Allies too! To keep world Piece too! And Law en order By Training Police in other Trouble Nations don"t want Piece too! This True!! This needs to Looked into true!! Sone of the Arabes Nations are Smaller Nations in the World too! I agreed!! Law Need to addressed in those areas immeadly by International Court of World Other Counties of Nations do Bleaved in Law enorder by Trained Police Foreign Officers of those trouble Nations too! Iagreed!! Let those Nations Take Care of there Responables in there own house in foreign Nations too! Agreed!!! The U.S.Forces should pulledout of those Nations to get on there Feets too! I agreed!! Get to work and Finished thoses Jopbe in other Nations And Get out of there Nations By Closing American Bases out those coountiesimmeadly as soon as possable too! Let"s Go Now Get going now!!! Agreed!!


William Neff, e-mail, 17.01.2012 06:33

Basic defence strategy 101(for dummies)

When deciding on the platform for advanced military technology, create a competition and narrow the competitors down to two or three. Then mothball the winning plane and go with the runner-up for actual application. A military should always have an "Ace in the Hole" so to speak. That way, if a war breaks out and you are matched by enemy technology, you already have a working, ready to go into production counteroffensive weapon at your disposal. The f-23 will see it's day in the sun with newer modern updates like advanced vectored thrust, more powerful engines, a stronger, more advanced skin allowing for earth re-entry, and most importantly... the ability to escape earth atmo and return safely thus providing a platform for the future of space-born fighters and cargo vessels. Both prototypes have been kept in storage while these advancements in technology are being studied for further use. I presume that they will be the only two made for quite some time.


Edwin L. Tan, e-mail, 29.12.2011 05:15

I think your new gerneration plane to replace the F-15 is so impresive but, can you inject the harrier tech on that plane i think it will be give more edge against the enemy can you send me a model of the plane coz i am a collector of new fighter jets more power and God bless Happy new year


Abe, e-mail, 25.10.2011 22:24

Being a former fighter pilot and engineer. I was writing technical manuals for and during the fly off. There was enough political influence in the fly off to make it one sided. As usual, Northrop lost. Now, in saying that... There were a few obvious problems with the F-23 that the F-22 did not have. Such as the wing tip vortices which would allow the airplane to be seen on radar for a brief second while in extreme maneuvering. The F-22 did not have these problems. The F-23 required more skilled personnel to maintain the airplane. The F-22 could be maintained by a typical F-15 ground service crew. Unfortunately, all the talking in the world about an airplane that has been parked is a mute point. Because, the corruption, politics, and policies of big business in coordination with the DoD and federal government events such as these will continue to occur. Remember: When a government gets bigger, and more and more people are being prosecuted as law breakers, that means that the government is afraid of its people and trying to keep them in line through fear. This kind of government never works and never stays for too long. We (the united states) are an empire like all others in history. And, we will fall like all of the other empires of history. It took Rome 2000+ years to accomplish the same things that we accomplished in 200. Look at history...we have the same problems, just in a new time.


a.machiaverna, e-mail, 27.09.2011 09:00

F-23 is a better airplane than the F-22. Politics?


David, e-mail, 20.07.2011 22:28

1.The Fifth Geration Fighter Jet Will Cruised at (M) 2.1 + too.


ERIC, e-mail, 07.07.2011 15:13

Taiwan,japan,south korean and many asean countries interested to buy YF23. Why USA refuse to sell them YF 23.
YF23 for usa friends and allies.
Good money and create more Jobs for USA.


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