Note: This aircraft is located in the Research & Development Gallery on a controlled-access portion of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Click here for requirements to visit this gallery.
During the 1970s, a new generation of Soviet fighters and surface-to-air missiles (SAM) prompted the U.S. Air Force to find a replacement for the F-15 Eagle air superiority fighter. In 1981 the USAF developed requirements for a new fighter that would incorporate the latest technological advances in airframe construction, propulsion systems, avionics and stealth capabilities.
In 1986 the USAF awarded demonstration contracts for an Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) to two competing industry teams (Lockheed-Boeing-General Dynamics versus Northrop-McDonnell Douglas) and to two competing engine manufacturers (Pratt & Whitney versus General Electric). Both ATF teams produced two prototype aircraft powered by prototype engines: one powered by Pratt & Whitney YF119 engines and the other powered by General Electric YF120 engines.
The Northrop YF-23A, unofficially named the Black Widow II, emphasized stealth characteristics. To lessen weight and increase stealth, Northrop decided against using thrust vectoring for aerodynamic control as used on the Lockheed YF-22.
After extensive flight testing, the USAF announced in 1991 that the Lockheed YF-22 had won the airframe competition and that the Pratt & Whitney YF119 had won the engine competition. Northrop ended its YF-23 program, and in 2000 the YF-23A on display came to the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
TECHNICAL NOTES: YF-23A [Prototype Air Vehicle 1 (PAV-1), S/N 87-0800]:
Crew: One Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney YF119-PW-100s of approximately 35,000 lbs. thrust each Maximum speed: Approx. Mach 2.0