And it is that 'nice, smooth, design' which is it's principal disinformational illusion if not engineering impossibility (see the Canard equipped
Lockheed design which is nothing more than the 'top half' of the YF-22 shape without the stabilators fitted).
Indeed, while the Rockwell design is indeed /well blended/; the LE and wingroot thickness' in particular are absurd for a supersonic platform even as
the structural carrythru is nothing remotely close to what a pod-over-deltoid configuration (like the Su-27) displays.
Aesthetically, while the first time I saw this configuration I thought it was the best looking of all the ATF concept jets but one; it also had more
of the look of the old LORAL stealth fighter (see Monogram 'F-19') than the Su-27.
Yet it wasn't until I later when I saw this drawing-
That it became clear that the long fuselage was nothing more or less than a mounting point for the flex-pallet GD-Westinghouse AAAM-
Which was indeed originally 'hinged' on the F-14 but later progressed to a semi-submerged pallet configuration.
With a less unidimensional fuselage, you have something to 'sweep up from' on the ventral side and this makes the wingroot/LERX area more believable
even as the chunkier belly provides not only structural depth for the wingspars but a believable top-and-bottom longeron system to place heavy stores
Mind you, there are still likely problems with slabsided multipathing between the nacelles and the nacelles and pod while the use of conical
centerbodies does not do enough to protect the inline compressor fronts and further look shy of total capture area and vulnerable to masking at some
high AOA conditions. I imagine that boattail issues and general ruling/profile drag penalties would also be monstrous with all that wetted area and
depending on how they intended to configure it, the nose looks shy of depth sufficient to house even a suitably large AESA. Without a notable
nose-droop to justify clearance issues, obviously the storklike A-4 gear is going to be a hardsell too, not least because it's going to also mean
intrusion upon wing area already compromised by the nacelles from carrying much in the way of external ordnance.
Against which, conceptually, one can argue that as many as 12, 100nm+, AAAMs _greatly_ ease many of the total penetration depth problems on a fighter
that could fly out of England to hit targets over Eastern German if not Poland. Similar to the capabilities achieved by the YF-12.
When compared to a true SC&M penetrating OCA system which must survive to reach AIM-120 (as it was then, a 20-25nm missile) poles.
Yet, while escorting strike aircraft as well as attacking it's own surface tagets, the F-22 as it is seen today is more flexible if only because you
aren't TOF'ing out an LRAAM through the loh'ing herd of a strike package while a QRA threat comes up off a road base 10-20nm to their front.
Whether you could achieve similar payload flex to say the Canberra removable bay door system in an F-4 CFT type layout is another question we will
likely never know the answer too but in general, it seems to me that Rockwell did not do enough to integrate all of the mission systems of the jet
with enough residual 'multirole' growth capacity to make it a viable contender.