Originally posted by Browno
Also if Northrop Grumman have more advanced technology then Lockheed Martin then why does Northrop get turned down all the time?.
Maybe TOO advanced things are TOO hard to repair or maintain? or could be just ahead of our time.
[edit on 12-11-2005 by Browno]
Risk! With cutting edge technology comes risk. Lockheed focus manly on use of older, well proven technology, Northrop useing the cutting edge stuff.
Case in Point, the YF-22 VS. the YF-23 (ATF).
Some Key Differences:
: The YF-22 is built mainly from alumnun and titanium alloys. Both of these metals are well known in aerospace, and have been in
regular use since the 1960's. The YF-23, on the other hand was built using a brand new carbon-based composit. Until the YF-23 was built, that
paticular conposite had never been on a aircraft before.
: Most of the YF-23's computers were fresh out of the lab when PAV-1 took off. A Northrop engineer said "For the first time, we were
flying a plane with more computing power then we had on the ground in the rest of the company.
Also, you need to put the decision in the context of the time when it was made. The Air Force chose the winner of the ATF contract in April of 1991.
Back in January of that year, the General Dynamics/ McDonald Douglas A-12 Avenger II program was cancelled because of cost overrun, and failure to
meet schedual. Congress blasted the Pentagon for the failure of the A-12 Program. With all of this happening, the US Air Force thought the F-22 would
be less risky because it used less advanced technology and it was cheaper to start with.
Here's a look at the ATF decidion, Point-by Point:
Both aircraft apparently met the USAF's performance specs. Northrop were a bit faster, longer ranging and stealthier, whereas Lockheed were a bit
more manoeuvrable. It appears that the performance margins between both types were not dramatic.
The GE engine performed somewhat better in the trials than the P&W engine, but the final P&W proposal included an enlarged fan and hence higher thrust
for production aircraft, presumably equalising the difference.
Apparently Lockheed and P&W were cheaper, by how much does not appear to have been published anywhere (anybody know ?)
Northrop were penalised in a number of areas. Firstly Lockheed did more aggressive flying (played their politics right by doing it very visibly)
during the dem/val program and demoed high AoA manoeuvres and missile launches well in excess of nominal dem/val requirements.
Secondly Lockheed built a very conservative airframe design with very conservative materials, ie an F-15/F-18ish almost hybrid planform geometry using
a lot of aluminium and titanium alloys, unlike Northrop who opted for cca 50% empty weight in composites, using a very stealthy airframe geometry,
never used before in a fighter.
Thirdly Lockheed did not suffer the development pain which Northrop did with their stealthy exhaust ducts. The lining of the YF-23 exhausts is a
laminated alloy structure full of tiny cooling holes fed by engine bleed air. It was apparently rather heavy and may have required major design
changes to bring it to production. Also the main weapon bays of the YF-23 apparently stacked the Amraams vertically and the USAF were unhappy about
the potential for jams in the launcher mechanism preventing the firing of subsequent missiles.
Northrop, true to their tradition, created a showpiece of the state of the art in technology - ie a high performance truly all aspect stealth airframe
with better speed/range performance and bigger weapon bays than its rival. The price of innovation was the loss of the contract, as the YF-23 combines
a lot of new ideas which have never been used before. Whereas the Lockheed F-22 is clearly an evolutionary development of current aerodynamic/stealth
technology, the Northrop YF-23 is very much revolutionary. Therefore risky.
Similarly, the P&W engine was conservative, whereas the GE engine was a radical variable bypass ratio design never used in production before.
MDC and Northrop have ongoing commitments for the C-17, F/A-18 and B-2 respectively, whereas Lockheed and GD don't really have any real military
projects left once the P-3 and F-16 are completely closed. Similarly GE will be building F110s and F404s for F-16 and F-18 production to the end of
the decade, whereas P&W only have the F100 for which the biggest user, the USAF F-15 force, is unlikely to seek additional purchases.
Therefore, a decision to buy Northrop/GE could have seen both Lockheed and P&W end up shutting down their military airframe/engine businesses around
the end of the decade.
The US taxpayer is getting the cheaper and more predictable product with some penalty in top end performance and long term performance growth
The USAF however had NO choice in this matter as the Administration killed the A-12 Avenger in January due cost overruns resulting from high risk R&D.
By killing off the radical but high performance A-12, the Administration set a clear precedent. The A-12 was considered a very secure project
politically because its cancellation would mess up Navy deployment plans for the next decade (the A-6Es are very old, basic airframe design 1958) and
cause all sorts of problems.
In comparison with the A-12, the ATF was considered politically expendable as it is seen (incorrectly in my opinion) as a dedicated killer of PVO/VVS
aircraft, while the F-15s will remain viable for at least another decade.
As a result, the USAF had no choice than to pursue the lowest risk design options regardless of any other criteria. As it turns out, both Lockheed and
P&W were desperate enough to submit lower bids and hence the decision could not have really gone the other way. If the USAF chose the F-23 and it got
into difficulties say in 1994 due R&D problems, it would almost certainly die the death of the A-12. Politicians generally seem to have little respect
for air warfare strategy.
The above list was copied from the research fourm! It is a point-by-point look at the ATF decision. I hope it answers your questions on the ATF.
(EDIT: Corrected a spelling mistake)
[edit on 15-11-2005 by ghost]