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Originally posted by mbkennel
Here's my hypothesis. It is not the YF-23, but a development FROM the YF-23 platform to add range and more stealth to make a medium attack/bomber craft.
Remember when did the -22 and -23 prototypes fly? 1990. Yes, FOURTEEN YEARS ago. Plenty of time for new ones. When did 117 prototypes fly? 1970's and 1980's!!! Face it, the -117 is as ancient as any combat aircraft in the fleet. It is time to be retired.
And supposedly JSF is nearly as stealthy as the 117. Where does the 117 fit in? It doesn't. But there is a hole.
Also, after the classified USAF briefing over the Advanced Tactical Fighter program, Northrop did NOT contest the decision to go with Lockheed, as was their legal right. Almost always in a multibillion contract the loser will try to contest. Gee I wonder what may have happened: "Hey guys, Lockheed has the better fighter, but we have a mission for you too. Right up your alley."
Northrop is probably better at stealth thanks to B-2 experience.
The JSF will be the unclassified mainstay of light and medium attack, and will be exported worldwide. It is the new F-16.
The "A/B-3" is the USA-only high tech shiznit craft.
And probably when it is deployed and used for the next 10 years or so the military will say it was an F-117. Perfect cover.