After all the speculation and arguments about various black projects that we have seen on here, could it be true that a YF-24 aircraft really
A tantalising clue for it to be real comes in the form of the online biography of Colonel Joseph A. Lanni, Commander, 412th Test Wing, Air Force
Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base.
The link is here
If you scroll down the page the section on flight information lists all the aircraft he has flown during his career, what’s that last one again? It
seems remarkably careless of someone
to list the YF-24 there. Is that misinformation or a genuine mistake? Better still might it be a
The existence of a secret black YF-24 might also explain another mystery, namely, why was the JSF named the F-35? Of course the easy and obvious
explanation is that they just changed the X of the X-35 demonstrator to an F, but why? Why is such an out of sequence designation applied to the JSF
and why did it receive an X number in the first place?
My Theory on this particular point;
I reckon that the JSF prototypes, according to historical precedent, should have been given YF designations, as with the YF-16/17 and YF 22/23. Given
the furore over the ‘missing’ F-19 designation the sudden appearance of a Boeing YF-25 and Lockheed YF-26 (as the two JSF contenders) would have
led to an immense amount of curiosity as to why ‘F-24’ had been skipped. Even if the X-35 designation was the correct one, the redesignation of
the operational version as the in sequence F-25A would have led to the same questions, therefore, leaving the number out of sequence gives them the
‘easy’ explanation given earlier and avoids these questions.
The question then remains ‘what is or was the YF-24?’
On the one hand, it may not necessarily be a fighter, after all, the F-117 is a pure bomber and nothing more. The YF-24 might possibly even be a
demonstrator, after all, the official DoD designations for the Tacit Blue and Bird of Prey are still unknown, so maybe the YF-24 was the Bird of Prey
Col Lanni’s particular field of expertise however is air defence so this suggests that the YF-24 could indeed be an air defence fighter. Might the
YF-24 be an unseen full size fighter based on the X-36 perhaps? Or maybe the NASA/USAF SHARC wind tunnel model shows us what the ‘real’ YF-24
Interestingly, when I first found this site it also listed that Col Lanni had made the first flight of two classified secret aircraft, one being the
YF-24 (which presumably rules out the Bird of Prey as a candidate as Lanni was not the first to fly it) and the other being ther YF-113G. The
designations YF-113A through to E were applied to various types of MiG, from the MiG 17 to the MiG 23 for testing in the US, but YF-113G is (or was)
referred to specifically as a 'classified prototype'. I have no explanation for this aberration or why it seems to have been removed. More
intruigingly, why the YF-113G was removed but reference to the YF-24 was not?
What became of the YF-24?
Operationally, a case can be made for a top secret fleet of 60 or so bombers (ie the F-117) but it is difficult to see what possible use a secret
fleet of 60 or so air defence fighters might be, and any reasonably sized air defence force could not be kept absolutely secret for any length of time
so it is likely therefore that the YF-24 was only built in small numbers, maybe only a single aircraft that is now buried in the desert with all the
other black prototypes? I hope that is not the case as I am reminded of the story where it was decided to declassify the XST and place it in a museum
after digging it up and restoring it, however nobody could remember where it was and the excavation team had to give up when they hit the tail fins of
the still classified Senior Prom!
If that is the scenario we may never get to see or hear about this YF-24 and that would be a great shame.