a reply to: drwire
It's that rendering of the second aircraft, the one that's clearly a YF-23 with two seats and a delta wing, that launched me on the hunch that the
YF-23 was to some unknown design/prototype/operational SR-71/EF-111 replacement what the YF-12 was to the A-12.
I mean, let's look at what we know about the YF-23. It basically was an adaptation of the TACIT BLUE's planform to a maneuverable(ish) supersonic
aircraft, with trapezoidal wings, a V-tail, hard chines, and a flat fuselage. It even had the engines exhausting over a deck between the tails. Now
we know that the TACIT BLUE was a surveillance platform, not a fighter, so why would NG go with such a design for the YF-23? Especially when you
consider just how similar the -23 is to Tacit when the contemporary B-2 shared almost nothing with the TB's design.
This is possibly also where the F-117 companion could come in. People in the know have hinted that A: it wasn't built by Lockheed, and B: it looked
nothing like the F-117. Is it that much of a stretch then, to guess that it might have been some sort of "missing link" between the obviously-related
TACIT BLUE and YF-23 designs?
But it gets better. Look at the -23's design a little more closely. One of the many reasons why the YF-22 won the contest was concerns about the
usability of the respective design's weapons bays. The-22 split it's internal weapons load across two bays, allowing for redundancy in the event of
malfunctioning doors, etc. The NG design, on the other hand, consolidated its weapons load in a single, large bay mounted in the centerline of the
aircraft just under and behind the cockpit.
Sounds a little unusual
for a fighter, now doesn't it...
Can anyone think of a class of aircraft built around large, voluminous bays mounted centerline behind the cockpit? The voices are saying something
about "oxes" and "carts" and maybe the occasional "raven".
What's that, you say? The SR-71 and the EF-111 were both retired in the 90's, just as the leader in low-observable technologies was demoing a
prototype "fighter" with impressive super cruise abilities, minimal maneuverability, and an even more minimal RCS? That had a "weapons bay" that
looked an awful lot like a Q-Bay? That blew away its competition in a fly off in terms of speed, range, RCS, and IR signature before "losing" the
competition and disappearing without a whisper? While the company that made it stayed profitable throughout the 90's (so much so that they bought
Grumman!) with minimal aircraft to show for it, in the white world at least?
Throw slightly bigger engines/fuel tanks for extended mach 2.0+ performance and a speed-optimized delta wing on a YF-23, add a second cockpit for a
radar/camera operator, and bingo! You have the mother of all battlefield surveillance/ECM aircraft, and one that could easily pick up the slack from
the SR-71 over all but the most heavily-defended targets due to its stealth.
Am I the only one who sees this?
edit on 29-4-2015 by Barnalby because: (no reason given)