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Video: Why didn’t the YF-23 go into full production if it was that good?

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The U.S. Air Force’s F-22 Raptor is the world’s most advanced air superiority jet and the first stealth fighter jet.

But did Lockheed Martin, the Raptor’s manufacturer, win the production contract because its design was better? Or was Northrup Grumman’s YF-23 design actually a better fighter than the F-22 Raptor? And if it was, why didn’t win a production contract?

These are some of the questions Sandboxx News’ Airpower considers on the latest episode of Air Power on YouTube.

There is a widely held belief that Lockheed Martin won the Advanced Tactical Fighter competition through sketchy means rather than because its YF-22 – which ended up being the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jet –was better than Northrup Grumman’s YF-23 competitor.

“While there is some truth to that, reality, as is so often the case, is a lot more nuanced than this narrative would make it seem,” Alex Hollings, Sandboxx News’ Editor-in-Chief and host of Airpower, said in a recent video.

Northrup Grumman built only a handful of YF-23 prototypes to participate in the Advanced Tactical Fighter competition. The initial design used a pair of Pratt & Whitney YF119-PW-100 engines that could give the fighter jet a maximum speed of about Mach 1.4 (or a little around 1,100 miles per hour). However, an updated design used General Electric YF120 engines that could reach a maximum speed of Mach 2 (or over 1,500 miles per hour). 

But despite its arguably better capabilities, the YF-23 might not have been the better choice for the U.S. Air Force.

You can watch Alex’s video about the topic above!

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The editorial team at Sandboxx.