PanAm788
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YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:44 am

Hello everyone! I have a proposal that I wanted to share. Unfortunately, I'm not sure its realistic today, but I'm not quite sure why it didn't happen.

We all know that the F-117 was a dedicated light bomber. It had a niche role in the air force that prved to be very useful in the two Gulf Wars. Today, it's retired and its role is essentially shared by the F-22 and F-15E. What I never understood is why the YF-23 Black Widow was never used to replace the Nighthawk (an F-123  Smile ). The YF-23 has better stealth than the F-22, is bigger (more payload), and can carry air to air missiles (the F-117 could, hypothetically too). It seems to me that this would be a perfect match. Obviously budget is the reason it wont happen today, but i think the DoD should have split the Raptor's contract and replaced the Nighthawk too. It would hav been perfect and now it seems we're missing a fighter/bomber that can perform the role of the F-117. Do you think an aircraft will be develpoed to fill this role?
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keesje
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Thu Feb 05, 2009 10:40 am

These days in dangerous places unmanned vehicles hang around identifying tagets (and they already know where to look), determine target's exact location or point a laser and someone far away releases / shoots. Or the vehicle shoots itself.
"Never mistake motion for action." Ernest Hemingway
 
ebj1248650
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Thu Feb 05, 2009 12:04 pm

Your idea regarding the YF-23 as a fighter-bomber is an interesting one and one that I hadn't even begun to consider. However, as the F-22A also has air-to-ground capabilities now, it's very unlikely we'll see the YF-23 project revived. Sure do like the way you think though. I've always liked the YF-23 and definitely wish it'd won the competition.
Dare to dream; dream big!
 
LMP737
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Thu Feb 05, 2009 3:03 pm



Quoting EBJ1248650 (Reply 2):
I've always liked the YF-23 and definitely wish it'd won the competition.

Personally I liked the look of the YF-23 over the YF-22. Unfortanetly for Northrup looks don't win fly off's.
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Stitch
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Thu Feb 05, 2009 3:29 pm

The YF-23 was the stealthier and faster model, but the YF-22 had better maneuverability.

As to the YF-23 being a fighter-bomber, there have been rumored "black" projects like the A-17 or the "HARP" (High-Altitude Reconnaissance Platform) that were based on the YF-23.
 
keesje
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Thu Feb 05, 2009 3:42 pm



[Edited 2009-02-05 08:12:45]
"Never mistake motion for action." Ernest Hemingway
 
TGIF
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:02 pm



Quoting PanAm788 (Thread starter):
It would hav been perfect and now it seems we're missing a fighter/bomber that can perform the role of the F-117. Do you think an aircraft will be develpoed to fill this role?

Isn't this were the F-35 would be a perfect fit? Similar range, similar payload (internally, in 'stealth mode') etc.

Personally, I'd love to see a F/B-23. That is one fine looking aircraft!
 
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Stitch
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Thu Feb 05, 2009 6:34 pm

I would not be surprised if a variation on the FB-23 is what NG is providing for the new bomber RFP.
 
ebj1248650
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Thu Feb 05, 2009 9:47 pm



Quoting Stitch (Reply 7):
I would not be surprised if a variation on the FB-23 is what NG is providing for the new bomber RFP.

I thought I had read the new bomber was to be subsonic. Reduce the engine power for the sake of longer range? Increase dimensions across the board to allow carriage of greater internal weapons load?
Dare to dream; dream big!
 
ebj1248650
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Thu Feb 05, 2009 9:49 pm

Incidentally, where was that model photographed and what was the occassion? I had heard rumors of an F/B-23 but they seemed to be little more than speculation ... or wishful thinking. Is this a Northrop/Grumman produced model?
Dare to dream; dream big!
 
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kc135topboom
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:00 am

Why not simply bring back the FB-111, in an updated version (FB-111J?)? The tooling has not been scrapped, it is stored out at DM.
 
Thorny
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:27 am



Quoting EBJ1248650 (Reply 9):
Incidentally, where was that model photographed and what was the occassion? I had heard rumors of an F/B-23 but they seemed to be little more than speculation ... or wishful thinking. Is this a Northrop/Grumman produced model?

Amusingly, the photo of the model FB-23 was on EBay for a short time before it was unceremoniously removed.
 
ebj1248650
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:43 pm



Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 10):
Why not simply bring back the FB-111, in an updated version (FB-111J?)? The tooling has not been scrapped, it is stored out at DM.

Personally, I never understood why the F-15E replaced the original F-111. I may be wrong but I don't believe the Eagle can do what the Aardvark can do in the fighter bomber role.
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par13del
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Sat Feb 07, 2009 1:40 pm



Quoting EBJ1248650 (Reply 12):
Personally, I never understood why the F-15E replaced the original F-111.

Everyone wants new toys, the saying that if it ain't broke don't fix it does not apply to big boys and their toys. The mud hen was new, the Varks old, funny thing is in these hard economic times, one would think that you could restart Vark production cheaply, I'm willing to bet that it will be no cheaper than a new design, and take just as long to get to the forces, how? They will probably offer up new engines, stronger frames, improved avionics, more this, more that, etc. etc.

As for the F-117, it had to go to get more F-22's, by the time that project was ready to see the light of day, the unit cost made it unaffordable.

I like the notion of LM proposing a modified YF23 for the new tactical bomber, always thought they got screwed, note I said I thought.
 
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Stitch
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:52 pm



Quoting Par13del (Reply 13):
I like the notion of LM proposing a modified YF23 for the new tactical bomber, always thought they got screwed, note I said I thought.

Lockheed-Martin and Boeing offered the YF-22, which won the fly-off and RFP.  Wink

Northrup-Grumman and McDonnell-Douglas offered the YF-23.

Now that Boeing owns McD, I wonder if NG can even offer something based on the YF-23?

Especially since Boeing is teaming with LM for the next bomber RFP.
 
texl1649
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Sat Feb 07, 2009 4:42 pm

The FB-111/F-15E mission is going to be taken over by UCAV's, and rightfully so.

Why spend $200MM (after over-runs/development) for a new generation fighter bomber (if the USAF could even get 150-200 of them), when you can spend about 1/4 that amount for smaller, stealthier higher-endurance UCAV's which can likely also defend themselves better, while delivering the JDAM's/bunker-busters just as well?
 
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par13del
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:58 pm



Quoting TexL1649 (Reply 15):
Why spend $200MM (after over-runs/development) for a new generation fighter bomber (if the USAF could even get 150-200 of them), when you can spend about 1/4 that amount for smaller, stealthier higher-endurance UCAV's which can likely also defend themselves better, while delivering the JDAM's/bunker-busters just as well?

Not sure how a UCAV can defend itself better than a manned platform, I thought the thinking was that a UCAV does not place a human at risk, or allows arm chair officers to get closer to the action while staying at home.  Smile

Here's a question, how much money was or is being spent developing the technology, what protections exist to protect the technology when the a/c is shot down, an enemy nation could gain valuable intel on the technology when one falls into their hands, be able to build theirs without the R&D.

Quoting Stitch (Reply 14):
Lockheed-Martin and Boeing offered the YF-22, which won the fly-off and RFP.

I stand humbly with my head bowed in shame  Smile
 
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Stitch
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Sat Feb 07, 2009 6:00 pm



Quoting Par13del (Reply 16):
Here's a question, how much money was or is being spent developing the technology...

Boeing has been pushing it hard since they lost the JSF program, since that pretty much means they're out of the manned fighter business once the F-15, F-18 and F-22 programs all successively wind down.
 
nomadd22
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Sat Feb 07, 2009 9:46 pm

Lockheed offered a larger version of the F-117 against Northrops B-2 as a stealth bomber for $200 million a copy. Northrop won out for a few good reasons and a lot of bad ones, and we wound up paying ten times the price per plane. (Admittedly more capable)
Now Lockheed is doing the same thing by offering a heavier version of the F-22 as the new bomber. Maybe it's time to quit spending 15 years and $20 billion on an entirely new platform every time they need a new plane.
Anon
 
Thorny
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:08 pm



Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 18):
Northrop won out for a few good reasons and a lot of bad ones, and we wound up paying ten times the price per plane. (Admittedly more capable)

For a whole lot fewer of them than when the B-2 was planned, which is primarily responsible for the huge costs. That wouldn't have changed had Lockheed won the contract.
 
nomadd22
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Sat Feb 07, 2009 11:33 pm



Quoting Thorny (Reply 19):


Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 18):
Northrop won out for a few good reasons and a lot of bad ones, and we wound up paying ten times the price per plane. (Admittedly more capable)

For a whole lot fewer of them than when the B-2 was planned, which is primarily responsible for the huge costs

The development time and costs would have been a whole lot less. The faceted stealth technology was known and flying. The smooth Northrop design took an incredible amount of the computing capacity that was available back then. For the same 40 billion they spent on 20 B2s they probably would have gotten 100 BFF-117s. The original idea was to fit one standard rotary launcher in the bay, compared to the B-2s two launchers and the range would have been less, so it's not a 1-1 comparison.
Anon
 
Oroka
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Sun Feb 08, 2009 4:10 am



Quoting Par13del (Reply 16):
Not sure how a UCAV can defend itself better than a manned platform,

An aircrafts maneuvers are limited to how many Gs a pilot can handle... which is about 9G for short periods (IIRC). A UCAV would be limited to structural G load tolerance... which could be a fair bit higher than 9G. I'm sure you can imagine what a aircraft with thrust vectoring could do if it could exceed 9Gs in a turn in a dog fight or avoiding missiles.
 
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par13del
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Sun Feb 08, 2009 1:01 pm



Quoting Oroka (Reply 21):
An aircrafts maneuvers are limited to how many Gs a pilot can handle... which is about 9G for short periods (IIRC). A UCAV would be limited to structural G load tolerance... which could be a fair bit higher than 9G. I'm sure you can imagine what a aircraft with thrust vectoring could do if it could exceed 9Gs in a turn in a dog fight or avoiding missiles.

I agree that with high g flying a pilot is a limiting factor, the reason why I was not even thinking about that is because I don't believe that the sensors, camera's, sat. images etc. have improved to the point that the situational awareness of the UCAV operator matches that of a pilot in the cockpit.
When we start using UCAV's for fighter combat the operator will probably have to sit in something like a full fledged simulator, do they have anything approaching that in service now for the Predators?
 
texl1649
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Sun Feb 08, 2009 2:05 pm

Predators are the equivalent of the Wright flyer for UCAV's.

If an airplane is smaller, it's harder to shoot down/spot, in addition to the maneuverability stuff.

It will be comical when we get the first "desk ace."
 
Oroka
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:54 am

In addition to the high G loads, a computer (under human guidance) would be much more aware of the overall threat picture. Information would be transfered and instantly added into the massive piles of data, immediately acknowledged and understood by the UCAV. The time it would take for a pilot to receive the new info, figure out how it fits into what is going on, and how to respond would be eliminated.

IMO when the next BIG conflict breaks out (China vs the West), it will be a numbers game. If air force tech stayed as it is now, you would get a swarm of Chinese J-10s on a few F-22s. A flight of UCAVs with a few F-22s would clean up pretty easily. The UCAVs would all know what everyone else is doing, who is targeting what, and what opportunities could be had by doing thousands of simulations of the fight in a second. The F-22 pilots would just hang back and watch the fight and keep executive control over the UCAVs.


Not only would the UCAVs have superior maneuvering, but also superior situational awareness, and the advantage of running simulations. These advantages would quickly overwhelm a opposing fighter group and they (the baddies) would start making fatal mistakes.
 
keesje
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Mon Feb 09, 2009 10:05 am



Quoting Oroka (Reply 24):
The F-22 pilots would just hang back and watch the fight and keep executive control over the UCAVs.

Now with if the technological gab is small / non existant and they still have many more?

That would kick us out of our comfort zone..

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Oroka
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Thu Feb 12, 2009 3:27 am



Quoting Keesje (Reply 25):
Now with if the technological gab is small / non existant and they still have many more?

Even if the PLAAF had their own F-22s, a UCAV with F-22 technology would still be superior. China will not field a 5th generation fighter of F-22 quality for probably 20 years. If they do, it will because of stealing designs from a almost as unlikely Russian design.

The J-10 and other variants will be China's primary fighter because it can probably match or beat most 4.5 generation fighters, and at around $41m each, they are quite a deal for what you get.
 
Acheron
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Thu Feb 12, 2009 3:51 am



Quoting Oroka (Reply 26):

Even if the PLAAF had their own F-22s, a UCAV with F-22 technology would still be superior.

And you know this because...?
Or is this just another case of "East sux, west ruls. We are awesum!!!11" so common nowadays in military forums all over the net?

Quoting Oroka (Reply 26):
The J-10 and other variants will be China's primary fighter

China's primary fighter is the J-11. The J-10 are going to replace the older MiGs and its locally produced versions.
 
Oroka
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bomber

Mon Feb 16, 2009 3:55 am



Quoting Acheron (Reply 27):
And you know this because...?
Or is this just another case of "East sux, west ruls. We are awesum!!!11" so common nowadays in military forums all over the net?

Wow... that was quite the reply. No, it is a case of "oh, China cant produce a domestic engine design of their own to match what they are getting from Russia, so how are they going to field a design that is even more advanced than what they already cant copy, letalone design and build". China's strength is manufacturing, not designing. Even if China could do a verbatim copy of a F-22, a UCAV with the same tech would not be limited by the human pilot. It could be Russian built, Chinese pilot, and the will of Kim-Jung-il keeping it aloft in the heavens... it is still limited by the fragile sack of flesh and bones strapped into it.

Quoting Acheron (Reply 27):
China's primary fighter is the J-11. The J-10 are going to replace the older MiGs and its locally produced versions.

Okay, sorry, I dont have inside knowlege of the PLAAF's fleet plans. So, their main fighter is the J-11. The same J-11 Russia has stopped selling to them because they are copying them but cant quite match Russia's tech with their own gear? Unless they submit to Russia, they might have a very limited number of 4.5 gen fighters for the foreseeable future. Even their Lavis, I mean J-10, uses Russian AL31FN engines... their Israeli design, which was paid for by US money is powered by Russian engines. Does the J-10 count as a kitbash of a real airplane design?


I stand by the fact that if China cant buy or steal a design from Russia, they will have their 5th gen fighter about the time the US and the EU will be rolling out 5.5 or 6th gen fighters. China is usually 10-15 years behind on high technology hardware, I see no reason that will change any time soon.
 
ThePointblank
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Mon Feb 16, 2009 4:35 am



Quoting Oroka (Reply 28):
Okay, sorry, I dont have inside knowlege of the PLAAF's fleet plans. So, their main fighter is the J-11. The same J-11 Russia has stopped selling to them because they are copying them but cant quite match Russia's tech with their own gear? Unless they submit to Russia, they might have a very limited number of 4.5 gen fighters for the foreseeable future. Even their Lavis, I mean J-10, uses Russian AL31FN engines... their Israeli design, which was paid for by US money is powered by Russian engines. Does the J-10 count as a kitbash of a real airplane design?

The Chinese are more than capable of indigenous production of the J-11; their current version, the J-11B uses a Chinese weapons outfit, Chinese avionics and fire control system, and a locally built engine is also in the works.

To call the J-10 to be a Chinese Lavi is factually incorrect; the design, although it does look like the Lavi, is common to many other fighter designs. I would probably call it a product of 'great minds thinking alike across the world'. The delta canard layout is used by many other designs around the world and it seems to be a very popular fighter layout configuration.
 
Oroka
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:03 am



Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 29):
The Chinese are more than capable of indigenous production of the J-11; their current version, the J-11B uses a Chinese weapons outfit, Chinese avionics and fire control system, and a locally built engine is also in the works.

Then why are they dependent on a Russian engine for the J-10? The 'current version' of the J-11 is the knock off which only a few were built, AND they had to use Russian engines in it. They will have to either give up on Russian arms all together or stop making J-11Bs at least until they can work out a production contract. I know they are working on an engine, but I have read they are having problems with it... but who knows, it is hard to get accurate info out of China.

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 29):
To call the J-10 to be a Chinese Lavi is factually incorrect; the design, although it does look like the Lavi, is common to many other fighter designs. I would probably call it a product of 'great minds thinking alike across the world'. The delta canard layout is used by many other designs around the world and it seems to be a very popular fighter layout configuration.

I look at the Typhoon... I don't see Lavi. The J-10 and Lavi are nearly identical, it cant be a coincidence. China wont admit it, Israel wont admit it... and I am sure Israel would love to get back at the US for cutting off funding for their fighter program. Best way to do that? Sell the design to China. Pretty much every aircraft they have is Russian made, or copied from a Russian design. Buying the Lavi design and tweaking it a bit would be perfectly in line with how China does business, and wouldn't be the first time they have done that. The SU-15 probably spawned the J-8 and J-9. The J-10 does not look like the J-9 at all other than the delta and canard layout, though the designer insists it is a logical evolution... like saying the F-15 evolved into the F-22. Same basic shape, but not the same.

Just because China wont admit to not having a single original bone in their body, dosent mean it is not true. Why spend all that money designing your own when you can just copy something else, which happens daily in China.
 
ThePointblank
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bombers

Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:37 am



Quoting Oroka (Reply 30):
Then why are they dependent on a Russian engine for the J-10? The 'current version' of the J-11 is the knock off which only a few were built, AND they had to use Russian engines in it. They will have to either give up on Russian arms all together or stop making J-11Bs at least until they can work out a production contract. I know they are working on an engine, but I have read they are having problems with it... but who knows, it is hard to get accurate info out of China.

Because rule number 1 about designing a successful aircraft is to either have a mature airframe with a new engine, or a mature engine on a new airframe. The Chinese tend to play things safe from my analysis of their designs; I am guessing that the Chinese will introduce a indigenous engine shortly, after they work on making it mature first.

Quoting Oroka (Reply 30):
The SU-15 probably spawned the J-8 and J-9.

No, the J-8's is a evolution of the MiG-21 design. Early models of the J-8 had the MiG-21 nose, while later versions had the solid nose instead. Also, at the point of development, the Sino-Soviet split occurred.

Quoting Oroka (Reply 30):
The J-10 and Lavi are nearly identical, it cant be a coincidence

Just like how the Lavi and the F-16, and the Saab Viggen and the Saab Gripen, eh? All have a very similar layout.

I am definitely guessing that the fly by wire software had Israeli assistance... but elsewhere, it remains a mystery.
 
Oroka
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RE: YF-23, F-117, And The Future Of Fighter/bomber

Mon Feb 16, 2009 4:29 pm



Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 31):
No, the J-8's is a evolution of the MiG-21 design. Early models of the J-8 had the MiG-21 nose, while later versions had the solid nose instead. Also, at the point of development, the Sino-Soviet split occurred.

I did read that the J-8 had both MiG-21 and SU-15 influences, but really that is speculation and sources 30 years after the fact. When it comes down to it, you cant truly know when it comes to the Chinese.

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 31):
Just like how the Lavi and the F-16, and the Saab Viggen and the Saab Gripen, eh? All have a very similar layout.

So yeah... the Lavi was designed based on the F-16. Also, Saab Viggen... Saab Gripen... there may just somehow been some design influence there.

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