The Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 Black Widow II was a prototype fighter aircraft designed for the United States Air Force. It was passed over in favor of the YF-22 that has entered production as the F-22 Raptor.
The YF-22 and YF-23 were competing in the USAF's Advanced Tactical Fighter program. Conceived in the early 1980s, to specify a replacement for the F-15 Eagle, contracts for the two most promising designs were awarded in 1986, with the YF-23 delivered in 1989 and the evaluation concluded in 1991.
The YF-23A met USAF requirements for survivability, supersonic cruise, stealth, and ease of maintenance. However, the YF-22A was more maneuverable than the YF-23A and won the competition in April 1991.
Although the precise results of the evaluation are not yet public knowledge, it is often claimed that the YF-23 was faster and stealthier than its competitor, but the USAF chose the YF-22 due to ease of production, maintenance, and potential for future development, as well as its relatively lower production cost.
On the other hand, some say that the YF-22 was chosen for its superior subsonic maneuverability due to thrust vectoring.
Others point out the YF-23's comparatively flawed weapons release mechanism wherein missiles are stacked on racks, and a weapons jam of a lower-positioned missile could prevent the firing of the missile above it.
The interim bomber requirement has since been cancelled in favor of a more long-term, permament bomber replacement requirement; however, the same YF-23-derived design will likely be adapted to fulfill this role as well.
Length: 67 ft 5 in (20.60 m)
2× General Electric YF120 or Pratt & Whitney YF119 turbofan, 35,000 lbf (277 kN)
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