Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23

In many ways the YF-23 was a better fighter then the successful YF-22. Both aircraft were a generation ahead of anything else flying, but the Northrop design would probably have been faster and stealthier, with low-speed handling the only area where the Lockheed design was superior.

To save money, the YF-23 protypes used more conventional components than its rival. The Lockheed YF-22 had a sidestick controller like that in the F-16, but the YF-23 had a more orthodox center stick. The YF-23 used the foward cockpit of the F-15E Strike Eagle, but the longer and wider then an F-15C.

Both advanced tactical fighters met most of the U.S. Air Force requirements, but ultimately it was industrial performance that mattered. The two main partners in the consortium managing the F-23 were under considerable strain. Northrop's B-2 bomber ws delayed and suffering cost over-runs, and McDonnell Doglas was having even greater problems with the eventually canceled A-12 naval bomber. Lockheed, by contrast, had developed the F-117 Stealth Fighter on time and under budget, which probably proved decisive in the Pentagon's choice.

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