Northrop Aircraft

The Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 was an American single-seat, twin-engine stealth fighter aircraft technology demonstrator.


Northrop YF-23 Black Widow

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. 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. At the same time, the U.S. Navy, under the Navalized Advanced Tactical Fighter (NATF) program, announced that it would use a derivative of the ATF winner to replace its F-14 Tomcat. The NATF program called for procurement of 546 aircraft along with the USAF's planned procurement of 750 aircraft.

Top view of black jet aircraft, showing trapezoidal wings, engine nozzle, and two-piece tail. The separation between the forward fuselage and engine nacelles are apparent.

Top view of the YF-23, showing the trapezoidal wings and separation between the forward fuselage and engine nacelles


In July 1986, proposals were submitted by Lockheed, Boeing, General Dynamics, McDonnell Douglas, Northrop, Grumman and Rockwell. The latter two dropped out of competition shortly thereafter.[5] Following proposal submissions, Lockheed, Boeing, and General Dynamics formed a team to develop whichever of their proposed designs was selected, if any. Northrop and McDonnell Douglas formed a team with a similar agreement.

The Lockheed and Northrop proposals were selected as finalists on 31 October 1986. Both teams were given 50 months to build and flight-test their prototypes, and they were successful, producing the Lockheed YF-22 and the Northrop YF-23.

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The YF-23 was stealthier and faster, but less agile than its competitor. After a four-year development and evaluation process, the YF-22 was announced the winner in 1991 and entered production as the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. The U.S. Navy considered using the production version of the ATF as the basis for a replacement to the F-14, but these plans were later canceled. The two YF-23 prototypes were museum exhibits as of 2010.

Northrop YF-23 Black Widow

The Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 was 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".


  • History

    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

  • Primary Users

        Crew: 1 (pilot)

        Length: 67 ft 5 in (20.60 m)

        Wingspan: 43 ft 7 in (13.30 m)

        Height: 13 ft 11 in (4.30 m)

        Wing area: 900 ft2 (88 m2)

        Empty weight: 29,000 lb (13,100 kg)

        Loaded weight: 51,320 lb (23,327 kg)

        Max. takeoff weight: 62,000 lb (29,000 kg)

        Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney YF119 or General Electric YF120 afterburning turbofan, 35,000 lbf (156 kN) each

  • General Info

        Maximum speed:

            At altitude: Mach 2.2+ (1,450+ mph, 2,335+ km/h)

            Supercruise: Mach 1.6+ (1,060+ mph, 1,706+ km/h)

        Range: over 2,790 mi (over 4,500 km)

        Combat radius: 750–800 nmi (865–920 mi, 1,380–1480 km)

        Service ceiling: 65,000 ft (19,800 m)

        Wing loading: 57 lb/ft2 (265 kg/m2; at loaded weight)

        Thrust/weight: 1.36


    None as tested but provisions made for:

Northrop YF-23A Black Widow


The Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 was an American single-seat, twin-engine stealth fighter aircraft technology demonstrator.


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