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Thread: No buying the B-70 was far from the only screw up the Air Force made

  1. #1
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    No buying the B-70 was far from the only screw up the Air Force made

    You can go back to the early to middle 50s, where the AF bought the F-100 instead of the F8U. The F8U was more than 350 mph faster, and had an 8000 feet higher ceiling. Any pilot would like the advantage of being higher and faster.

    There were others, but the last one was when they should have bought the F-23 rather than the F-22. The F-23 could fly higher and faster and was more stealthy. Ask any pilot, he wouldnt rather be higher, faster, and not have the enemy know he was there. He would be in the cat bird seat, and the enemy would never know what hit him.

    Again Im sure politics screwed up that buy too.

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    The F8U was a Navy design which first flew *after* the F-100 had already entered USAF service. By the time the F8U entered service the USAF already had the F-101, F-102, F-104, and F-105 in development.

    The F-23 would have been an outstanding fighter but it there was just as much of a chance (or perhaps even more of one) that it would have been cancelled. As far as I know it has never been confirmed that the YF-23 could fly faster or higher than the YF-22. The production F-23 probably would have been stealthier than the F-22 but that doesn't change the fact that the F-22 is still an incredibly capable aircraft.

    The mistake wasn't that we selected the wrong design, the mistake was that we cut back production to a mere 180 or so aircraft and cut several capabilities planned for the aircraft. You can blame short-sighted national leadership for that.

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    A few corrections to the OP:
    The YF-23 was alleged to be faster than the YF-22 (the F-23 emd would have added volume and less adherence to area rule, the F-22 was considerably different from the YF-22 including better area ruling and less draggy tail/nozzle). Hence there is no real evidence that a production F-23 would have been faster.
    Second, the Yf-23 RCS pole model was alleged to have a lower RCS than the YF-22 pole model. Neither flying prototype had LO treatment, and had numerous features that wouldn’t have been congruent with LO features.
    The YF-23 was beautiful, and raw. The development would have been torturous and the USAF was in no mood for assurances after the A-12 and B-2 debacles.

    Not sure why you think the YF-23 had a higher ceiling, no mention of that in any of the numerous “rumors”.

    The USAF made numerous mistakes in the 90’s:
    Cutting the F-15E program numbers, slowing down the F-22 procurement schedule, piecemeal F-16 block 50/52 procurement after ‘95. Choosing the F-22 wasn’t one of them. The F-23 wouldn’t have made it, we’d have zero aircraft from the ATF program instead of 187.

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    The F-23 wouldn’t have made it, we’d have zero aircraft from the ATF program instead of 187.
    er, maybe a bit strong as assertion... maybe it would be more complicated, maybe not... the only thing we can say for sure is that Northrop made the B-2 almost at the same time, which was even more revolutionary in its design than the YF-23 and they successfully made it. If they managed to make the B-2, why wouldn't they be able to make the F-23? Same as saying that the F-22 had improvements over the YF-22 you can't dismiss the fact that the F-23 probably would've been improved over the YF-23 (one could even say that it would be expected as the prototypes are there for that very purpose: test and improve a concept). Overall, would it end as being a better aircraft? maybe. the only thing we can say for sure is that we don't know.. Another thing we can say for sure, LM wouldn't be able to push forward the argument "we have the experience with the F-22" when they promoted the X-35.. would it make any difference is another question...

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    I don't think he's saying that Northrop wouldn't have made it (I'm sure they would have given time and I think its advantages in RCS signature and longer range would have made the F-23 more potent in the long run). What I think he's saying is that even though the YF-22 was closer to the end-product, it still (in the context of post-Cold War military budget cuts) only managed to get produced in 187 examples (which was a pretty stupid decision given all the money invested in its development).

    The (however much) longer development of the YF-23 to the production standard F-23 would have brought additional risk of having the whole thing canceled altogether by the time it was ready for production (like e.g. the Comanche).
    Last edited by ijozic; 31st October 2017 at 11:27.

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    thing is, how can you estimate that the F-23 would take so much longer to develop? it's not like Northrop (or Grumman for that matter) were new to fighter business, and they also worked on the B-2, so in the stealth stuff they were also quite advanced already. Overall, both companies had quite a good record and the time they'd need to produce the F-23 would've depended mostly on how many things they promised that they still had to figure out

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    To be fair, I said however much. It might not have been a big delay, but the fact was that Lockheed was ahead (e.g. the YF-23 prototypes didn't even have weapon bays yet, IIRC) and with the possibility of cancellation hanging in the air, getting the design to the production line ASAP was probably a key criteria since the USAF was pretty satisfied with both designs, IIRC.
    Last edited by ijozic; 31st October 2017 at 13:10.

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    It is certain that they considered the YF-22 less risky, more conventional in its approach. Unless somebody decides to finance the F-23 development on private funds, there's zero chance (so, there really IS zero chance today ) for us to see what the F-23 could've been like
    Last edited by TooCool_12f; 31st October 2017 at 13:46.

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    Bingo, Ijozic

    The YF-23 had cockpit instrumentation from the F-15E, the YF-22 had representative cockpit of planned EMD. Even the landing gear was parts bin. The YF-23 had several proposals for the weapons bay including a trapeze system, the YF-22 had a working system installed (The F-23 would have had a redesigned weapons bay as well as a small bay forward for ir missiles according to the leaked schematics).

    One of the biggest risks was the exhaust system, the F-22 had a TVC non-axis symmetric nozzle, the flight characteristics of which were already known. The SERN nozzle of the YF-23 was a bigger development risk as well as the heat ablative tiles (which any space shuttle affectionado could tell you were a pain).

    Between the two, the USAF deemed that the YF-22 was closer to production ready while Northrup had significant changes to the EMD model planned. It could be considered ironic considering all the changes that eventually showed up on the F-22's evolution, but it was clear to the USAF which manufacturer had a more mature design (from inlets to exhaust, cockpit avionics, weapons system, etc.).

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    Quote Originally Posted by FBW View Post
    The YF-23 was alleged to be faster than the YF-22 (the F-23 emd would have added volume and less adherence to area rule, the F-22 was considerably different from the YF-22 including better area ruling and less draggy tail/nozzle). Hence there is no real evidence that a production F-23 would have been faster.
    A few corrections to the corrections. Actually, the F-23 would have had less volume in the engine nacelles and likely better area ruling for it - while already cancelled by then and never installed, the YF-23s were build with an outer mold line designed to accommodate thrust reversers. OTOH I believe the supercruise speeds attained by both flight test articles are public, and that data does not support the notion of an advantage over the F-22. It is possible that the longer, less densely packaged airframe of the F-23 was potentially more favourable in terms of supersonic drag, but at the same time Northrop went for less complex intakes and nozzles in the name of lower RCS. So there might have been a thrust penalty to balance - swings and roundabouts, they were designed to the same spec after all.

    Quote Originally Posted by FBW View Post
    Second, the Yf-23 RCS pole model was alleged to have a lower RCS than the YF-22 pole model.
    Which is perfectly plausible, looking at the basic configuration: fewer major planform angles, fewer moving parts with associated gaps (control surfaces, bay doors...), fewer small bulges (main landing gear doors, actuator fairings, tail hook compartment...) and less complex intakes (no BL diverter cavities, no spill doors) and nozzles. About the only respect in which the F-22 had an advantage in this regard is the single piece canopy, and considering the priority Northrop clearly accorded to RCS minimization, one cannot but wonder if that's really as big an issue as it is often made out to be.

    All in all, I would concur that the F-22 was considerably more conventional in configuration and therefore less risky and expensive. Even if we assume Northrop had successfully negotiated the potential pitfalls, the F-23 would still have been quite a bit larger than the F-22 (about J-20 size) - another cost driver. In any case the F-23 would hence have made a bigger target for budget cuts. Ironically, the likely larger fuel capacity would have been something the USAF would no doubt appreciate - 8200kg internal fuel in a 19700kg airframe with two powerful 'leaky turbojets' (F-22) is not exactly generous.

    EDIT: Another correction

    Quote Originally Posted by FBW View Post
    The SERN nozzle of the YF-23 was a bigger development risk as well as the heat ablative tiles (which any space shuttle affectionado could tell you were a pain).
    Neither the YF-23 nozzle nor the Shuttle had ablative TPS's. The Shuttle tiles were radiation cooled (they can tolerate such high temperatures that heat loss from radiation balances heat flux added, while at the same time conducting heat so poorly that the underlying structure is sufficiently insulated) while the nozzle tiles on the YF-23 were transpiration cooled (air ejected through numerous tiny perforations).
    Last edited by Trident; 31st October 2017 at 17:22.

  11. #11
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    A few corrections to the corrections. Actually, the F-23 would have had less volume in the engine nacelles and likely better area ruling for it - while already cancelled by then and never installed, the YF-23s were build with an outer mold line designed to accommodate thrust reversers.
    Less volume in the nacelles and flatter nacelles, but wider in the rear due to reconfiguration of nozzle/exhaust troughClick image for larger version. 

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    The forward fuselage was also considerably wider. The extensive area rule of the YF-23 was relaxed in the EMD for functionality: weapons bays, radar, rear aspect RCS and thermal requirements. (pic-courtesy of YF-23.net). The RCS model incorporated some of the changes that the EMD would have demonstrated.

    while at the same time conducting heat so poorly that the underlying structure is sufficiently insulated) while the nozzle tiles on the YF-23 were transpiration cooled (air ejected through numerous tiny perforations).
    Again yes and no, they were cooled by transpiration, but the tiles themselves were Titanium Lamilloy, and you are right they are not ablative (well, actually kind of were, just not on purpose). And Northrup sued Allison over their performance (edit- Allison sued Northrup over the specifications).
    http://caselaw.findlaw.com/in-court-...s/1121429.html


    Addition: Interesting powerpoint from society of flight test engineers (with some specifics on the flight test program)
    http://www.sftentx.com/files/78588500.pdf

    YF-22 no.1 (YF120)= max mach >2
    YF-22 no.2 (YF-119)= max mach 1.81

    PAV-1= max mach 1.8
    PAV-2= max mach 1.72

    However, last slide showed the max supercruise of PAV-2 to be superior to YF-22. (If you look at slide it would appear that max supercruise was probably the max speed listed for PAV-2, Mach 1.72)
    Last edited by FBW; 31st October 2017 at 18:49.

  12. #12
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    The supercruise figures I'm aware of are:

    YF-22/YF119 Mach 1.43
    YF-22/YF120 Mach 1.58
    YF-23/YF119 Mach 1.43
    YF-23/YF120 Mach 1.6

    It's not 100% certain that some of these are really the maximum achieved, and the slide you mention would seem to indicate that at least YF-23 PAV-1 was faster than I listed (so as to be ahead of the YF119-powered YF-22). Based on the presentation there is indeed reason to doubt the Mach 1.43 figure as a misreporting of the speed achieved on its first supersonic (i.e. using afterburner) flight, which happened on 18th September. That's the date attributed to the Mach 1.43 supercruise flight of the YF119-powered YF-23 in other sources, but according to the flight test history diagram its fastest supercruise flight only occured in late November.

    All in all, there does not seem to be a basis for assuming a huge advantage for the YF-23, though.

  13. #13
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    All in all, I would concur that the F-22 was considerably more conventional in configuration and therefore less risky and expensive. Even if we assume Northrop had successfully negotiated the potential pitfalls, the F-23 would still have been quite a bit larger than the F-22 (about J-20 size) - another cost driver. In any case the F-23 would hence have made a bigger target for budget cuts. Ironically, the likely larger fuel capacity would have been something the USAF would no doubt appreciate - 8200kg internal fuel in a 19700kg airframe with two powerful 'leaky turbojets' (F-22) is not exactly generous.
    Somewhere along the way the from YF-22 to F-22 the design seemed to have lost a substantial amount of internal fuel capacity. However the fact that a figure of 20,650 lb of internal fuel shows up in many sources has me wondering if there was some space in the aircraft not utilized for fuel that could have been. I do recall they managed to find room for an extra 2,000 lb or so of internal fuel on the F-15C versus the original F-15A.

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    That's an interesting point, actually. I doubt it would work like that on the F-22 though, what with internal weapons bays and serpentine engine intake ducts it's already so densely packed that I can't see there being much unused space (apart from that reserved for avionics growth capability in the nose, but that wouldn't amount to much fuel).

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    Why is it that people feel the need to qualify the fact that the YF-23 had better stealth than the F-22.. Why the protest to that...

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    Because it didn’t. The YF-23 (for the 100th time) was a flying prototype. Neither the YF-22 or -23 were LO, they had pilots (autocorrect from pitots though they had pilots too, ha), exposed vents, no RAS incorporated in structure, no RAM. Do you need to read Northrop engineers state this because I can pull up the quote?

    The only thing rumored is of the RCS test mules, was that the YF-23 RCS model had a lower RCS. Those models were devoid of engines, antennas, everything but the outline shape and structure. So if you want to say that the YF-23 had better shaping, fine. In reality, the production F-23 would have had significant changes to the inlets, exhaust, cockpit, access panels, in order to meet RCS requirements. The same was true of the evolution from the YF-22 to the F-22 EMD.Click image for larger version. 

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    They look the same to you? That is why definitive statements about the relative RCS between the YF-23 and the F-22 are dumb. The YF-22 had significant changes to the F-22, the YF-23 would have too.
    Last edited by FBW; 2nd November 2017 at 15:04.

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    The fact that the industry determined the stealth qualities mostly by the poll model says something. It says that the shape of the aircraft is the biggest determining factor in the stealth of an aircraft.

    Yet a certain segment of the enthusiast community things that the cosmetic details like how well hidden the engine is, or how the wings are clipped, or the canopy frame, are the biggest determining factor. Seems to me that their not. The computer generated shape of the aircraft is the biggest determining factor.

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    Yes and No, the outer shape is critical for scatter and backscatter of RF energy. LO combat aircraft have to fly, flight, communicate, etc. When even the reflection off a pilots helmet, fan blade, or afterburner rings can dramatically increase RCS, obviously the concept of "shaping" refers to more than the planform edge alignment and avoidance of corner reflecters.

    As an aside, I grew up near one of the USAF RCS test ranges, I saw the F-22 EMD, RAH-66, early JSF models (actually JAST, the JSF RCS mockups I saw pole testing during grad school), other test models that I could not identify, mounted on poles for testing. Even from several hundred yards away, it was easy to distinguish a RCS mockup from, say, a functional F-16 which I frequently saw mounted on the RCS pole during the early 90's.
    Last edited by FBW; 2nd November 2017 at 15:10.

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    Somewhere along the way the from YF-22 to F-22 the design seemed to have lost a substantial amount of internal fuel capacity. However the fact that a figure of 20,650 lb of internal fuel shows up in many sources has me wondering if there was some space in the aircraft not utilized for fuel that could have been. I do recall they managed to find room for an extra 2,000 lb or so of internal fuel on the F-15C versus the original F-15A.
    That's an interesting point, actually. I doubt it would work like that on the F-22 though, what with internal weapons bays and serpentine engine intake ducts it's already so densely packed that I can't see there being much unused space (apart from that reserved for avionics growth capability in the nose, but that wouldn't amount to much fuel).
    I was wondering the same thing. Remember that aircraft hazard document, TECHNICAL ORDER 00-105E-9.
    There's an overview showing fuel tank locations and quantities (page 15.). Their conversion to non US units seems off but I assume the gallon numbers are correct.
    It gives the following numbers: (in US gal)

    F-1A compartment: 380.8
    F-1B pump box: 323.6
    F-2 tank: 710.8
    A-2L tank: 375.3
    A-2R tank: 375.3
    A-3L tank: 77.3
    A-3R tank: 77.3
    A-1L tank: 380.8
    A-1R tank: 380.8

    Total internal fuel: 3082 gallons. That's about 9350 kg - or roughly those 20 650 lbs mentioned above. But it's also more then the official number of 8200 kg.
    However, if we omit the F-1A compartment, total is 2701 gal or about 8200 kg - the official number. Note that F-1A is not labelled as a tank, but compartment. This leads me to believe the F-1A compartment is not in use.
    Maybe it's needed to pump around fuel to maintain CG (it's located right behind the cockpit). Or it can't be used at all for CG reasons because something changed during development. Or they decided not to use it for whatever reason, but I find that hard to believe given the F-22 is rather short legged.
    How can less be more? It's impossible. More is more.
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  20. #20
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    The combat capabilities of the F-22 are higher by 18%, these are determined by the choice in his favor

    Click image for larger version. 

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    http://s92025sm.beget.tech/paralay_tab.xls

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    The combat capabilities of the F-22 are higher by 18%, these are determined by the choice in his favor
    Thanks for the random chart of vague factors generated by you Paralay,

    Really clears up everything.

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    Use on health. Otherwise, you will reason 200 pages without any grounds

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    Still what pilot would not like higher faster, and stealth. Being above and behind without the enemy knowing you are there is primary.

    The greatest fighter pilot ever Erich Hartman said most of his kills were made when the enemy probably never knew he was there! If the enemy is already shot down, all the other things people mention means nothing.

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    Maybe not buying the F-16XL. It had better ITR than the C and STR was going to become less important with off boresight missiles. It had been shown to supercruise with the F110-GE-129 which was soon going to be available. The F-16C can't sustain Mach 1+ unless it has no centerline tank.

    Production cost was going to be about 15-20% more per unit, but cost over the service life of the plane maybe one third of that, since there is no reason it would have cost more to operate than a C.

    A super long range XL could have used CFTs by the end of the 90's to get a range similar to the strike eagle. That would have made more stations available for bombs since the EFTs prevented some stations to be used.

    I think 2 versions of XLs ( 1 single seater for multirole, 1 dual seater with maybe CFTs for strike ) would have provided significant economy of scale compared to purchasing both the F-15E and the F-16C.

    Also the F-15C stopped, was such a large radar necessary for strike? And the AMRAAM hes a range compatible with the APG-68, no need for the range of the APG-70.

    And the XL probably would probably have had a lower signature than the F-15.

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    Lots of replies here against the F-23. But I bet there is not even one from a combat pilot. Are there any combat pilots posting here that would rather dogfight rather than being higher faster and invisible to the enemy. If he or she has that advantage all they have to do is push the button on a missile, and the enemy is gone. An enemy that is gone is a good thing. The pilot gets to come home. THAT is what it is all about.

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    Today, it is 20 years since the F-22 first flew (not counting the YF-22 prototype), and it's still alone in its league... future 5th gen fighters may come into service in the next 4-5 years at best and they may be, or not, able to detect it. The USAf can count ont an infrastructure combining SIGINT assets, AWACS and so on second to none.. While I find the F-23 beautiful and am sure that it would make a great fighter, the choice of the USAF to go conservative may be also considered as "F-22 wil be good enough, so more risk isn't necessary".. until now, it proved to be exact

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    Sorry but the greatest fighter pilot was HJ Marseille & not Hartmann.

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    One advantage of the F-23 was that it could eventually have carried up to 12 missiles, 9 AMRAAMs and 3 AIM-9s. That meant that it wouldn't have been forced to go to a visual fight as soon because of lack of BVR missiles. I don't know if they took that into account when they chose the plane. Just saying that the launcher can jam is not really a good argument because it had 3 launchers so there was well enough redundancy. If one jammed, it still had 6 missiles which is equivalent to what the F-22 carries.

    This being said maybe Lockheed could have found a way to increase its number of missiles, had the Air Force shown more interest.

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    YF-23 was excellent super cruiser:

    Though the YF-22 was a more maneuverable aircraft, the YF-23 had far greater supersonic cruise capability—especially when outfitted with the General Electric YF120 variable cycle engines. Even when powered by the less powerful Pratt & Whitney YF-119, the YF-23 had the ability to fly an entire sortie at supersonic speeds above Mach 1.4 (explained to me sometime ago by Barry Watts at the Wilson Center—who was an analyst on the Northrop team at the time). The sleek prototype jet could also cruise at slightly more than Mach 1.8 when equipped with the YF-120.

    “I don’t recall Barry Watts, although the name has a familiar ring. He was right about supercruising for the whole sortie, as that’s the definition (Ps=0), but he was wrong about the number,” Jim Sandberg, test pilot of the YF-120 powered YF-23 told me a few years ago. “The one you quoted was just a bit shy for our PAV-1 that was equipped with the relatively underpowered YF-119 engines developed by P&W. ‘My’ airplane, PAV-2, equipped with the more powerful YF-120 engines developed by GE supercruised quite a bit faster—‘very fast’, as the USAF censors advised us to say.”

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    ne advantage of the F-23 was that it could eventually have carried up to 12 missiles, 9 AMRAAMs and 3 AIM-9s.
    The F-23 proposal had a loadout of 4 Amraam and 2 aim-9 (this was before the clipped wing Aim-120C). The suggestion of 9 Amraam comes from fanart and opinions. That would have required them to be stacked on top each other, there would have been no way to fit a launcher in that scenario. Even in the current F-22 bay the pneumatic launcher kicks the missile clear at 40g.

    YF-23 was excellent super cruiser:
    - you can look at the actual speeds reached by both the YF-22 and -23 on my post near the top of the page. There is a lot of myth regarding the YF-23 as there usually is when a promising design does not see fruition. Aviation lore is littered with these: Avro Arrow, TSR-2, XF-108, YF-23. The more time that passes, the faster, more "advanced", basically more exaggerated the actual specifications and achievements get.
    Last edited by FBW; 14th November 2017 at 16:06.

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