The YF-23A Black Widow II is an experimental fighter aircraft developed by Northrop Grumman in the early 1990s as a participant in the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program. It has a very unusual design with triangular wings and a tailplane that combines its rudders and elevators into a single control surface. Ultimately, it was defeated by Lockheed Martin's YF-22 Lightning II, which would go on to become the F-22A Raptor.
The Black Widow II (aka Gray Ghost) is one of the greatest achievements in aerospace technology, particularly stealth. With a deep-set cockpit, large triangular wings and a V-shaped tailplane, its radar profile from front, rear and the sides was extremely low. Its thrust nozzels mimic the F-117 Nighthawk in design, but allow the Black Widow II a much higher top speed.
By the 1990s, the US Air Force was growing concerned with its current selection of available combat aircraft. The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle air superiority fighter and its variants had been the primary multipurpose combat aircraft since the early 1970s and had reached the limit of enhancement while radar technology raced ahead, and a new combat aircraft was sought, one that could approach enemy territory undetected, engage enemy forces using the element of surprise and survive. In short, it had to be stealthy.
In 1992, the Air Force approached aviation giants Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin with a challenge: To build, test and demonstrate a new aircraft that would be stealthy, fast, maneuverable and able to engage enemy forces beyond visual range, thus decreasing the likelihood of discovery and increasing survivability. The winner of the challenge would be awarded a $900 million contract to develop the chosen aircraft. Both teams went to it with all the engineering genius that could muster. Northrop Grumman built the very futuristic YF-23 Black Widow II while Lockheed Martin built the more conventional YF-22 Lightning II, both in reference to World War II aircraft.
Competition was fierce as the two companies battled it out for possession of the contract. Northrop Grumman's design gravitated toward low profile and aerodynamics, with thrust nozzles set back into fuselage, large triangular wings and a tailplane comprised of ruddevators, capable of controlling the aircraft's yaw and pitch. Lockheed Martin preferred the more conventional approach, with separate tailplanes, trapezoidal wings and exhaust nozzles where one would expect them to be. All armament on both aircraft was internal, drastically cutting down the threat of detection by radar.
To see how well the performed in high-stress situations, both planes were subjected to a demonstrative battle. In the realm of raw speed and stealth, the Black Widow II dominated. However, when it came to a battle of maneuver (i.e. turning ability), the Lightning II dethroned its more combersome counterpart. While the Black Widow II could outrun and hide from radar more easily, it was less likely to survive if it were forced into a turning fight. The large wings offered a lot of surface area and presented a big target, and the ruddevators, while innovative, could be a problem if one of them was lost. Therefor, after four intense years of competition and evaluation, Lockheed Martin's YF-22 Lightning II was declared the winner, and the two competitors shook hands and parted ways.
The innovative features used in designing the YF-23 Black Widow II have not been forgotten. The idea of combining the rudders and elevators into a single unit still hold some influence with many in the aviation industry, particularly with enthusiasts.
Among the Black Widow II's many unique features were nozzles set in the front end of exhaust channels, which were lines with tiles and helped to cool and disperse the immense thermal signature of the engines to confuse and mislead heatseeking missiles. Another was the innovative ruddevators, which combined the otherwise separate surfaces of the tailplane and controlled the vertical and lateral movement of the aircraft.
- Dimensions (length, height, wingspan): 67'5"x13'11"x43'7"
- Maximum Speed (cruise, afterburner): 1060 mph (1706 kph, 883 knots); 1650 mph (2655 kph, 1375 knots)
- Maximum Range (combat, nonstop): 920 miles (1480 km); 2790 miles (4500 km)
- Turning Radius: 2400 feet (727 m)
- Operational Ceiling: 65,000 feet (19,800 m)
- Powerplant: 2xGeneral Electric YF120 of Pratt & Whitney YF119 thrust-vectoring turbofans
- Weight (empty, loaded): 29,000 lbs (13,100 kg); 51,320 lbs (23,327 kg)
- Crew: 1
The Black Widow II can be equipped with a variety of different weapons. First and foremost is the M61 Vulcan 20mm cannon located in the left wing root to deal with threats close-in. Then there are the AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range heatseeking and AIM-7 Sparrow medium-range multitarget radar-homing missiles routinely seen on NATO fighter aircraft. Lastly, there is the assortment of other armaments that can be equipped for a number of missions.
- 1xGeneral Electric M61A1 Vulcan 20mm cannon
- 2xAIM-9 Sidewinder short-range heatseeker
- 4xAIM-7 Sparrow medium-range multi-target radar-homing
- 4xAIM-120 AMRAAM long-range radar-homing
- 2xGPB-56 Paveway deep-penetration bombs
- 2xMk. 77 self-guided, self-propelled submunition dispenser
Appearances in the SeriesEdit
Ace Combat 2Edit
Ace Combat 5: The Unsung WarEdit
This Aircraft is unlocked by successfully completing the mission 16B. It's a good dogfighter, and is used in the game only by Belkans in the missions "Ancient Walls" and "Closure".
It's equipped with 80 normal missiles and 14 QAAM's.
- Standard: Drab two-tone "stealth gray"
- Special: Ivory white
- Razgriz: Black body with red tail stripes
Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan WarEdit
The YF-23A is unlocked by defeating the Wizard Squadron in Knight ace style of mission 16. The special color donned by the Wizard Squadron is also unlocked along with the plane.
Ace Combat: Assault HorizonEdit
|YF-23A Black Widow II
|AC Installment||Ace Combat: Assault Horizon|
|PSN Date||February 15, 2012|
The YF-23A Black Widow II is back in yet another installment of Ace Combat. It is being released with the DLC pack #7. The Special Weapons include the QAAM (AIM-9X) and SAAM (AIM-7P). The plane's up and down movement of the V-tail is reversed.
- Color 1: Drab two-tone "stealth gray" camouflage
- Color 2: Digital camouflage with light grey bottom and false canopy
- Color 3: Black camouflage with red tail stripes
- Martin (STFS/AC)
- Fox Four Force (URF/AC2)
- Grani (Beard) (BAF/ACZ)
- Lilie (Lily) (BAF/ACZ)
- Slon (Elephant) (YAF & AWWNB/ACZ)
- OADF 8th AD, 32nd TFS, 1st Flight/Wizard Squadron (OADF & AWWNB/ACZ)
- Gryphus Squadron (AAF/ACX)
- Spider (LAF/ACX)
- Falco Squadron (AAF/ACX)
- Bloodstone (Valahia/ACX2)