Northrop YF-23A "Black Widow II"

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Northrop YF-23A "Black Widow II"

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The YF-23A "Black Widow II" was the Northrop/McDonnell Douglas team's entry into the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) competition. The four-way ATF competition pitted the Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23A "Black Widow II" team against the Lockheed/Boeing/General Dynamics YF-22A "Lightning II" team. The Pratt & Whitney YF119 engine competed with the General Electric YF120 engine. At the end of the competition, the YF-22A "Lightning II" and the Pratt & Whitney YF119 engine were the winners. YF-23 Black Widow II video

Where did the name "Black Widow II" come from? There was no official USAF "nickname" for the YF-23A. However, prior to the first flight of PAV-1, the Northrop YF-23A team personnel had a "Name the Plane" contest. The name "Black Widow II" was chosen. In fact, when PAV-1 first flew, it had the "Red Hour Glass" symbol of the Black Widow spider painted on its underside. During the YF-23A flight test program, PAV-2 went by the call sign "Spider", while PAV-1 used the call sign "Gray Ghost".

The YF-23A "Black Widow II" was a supersonic "Stealth" fighter. Along with its Stealth capabilities, the YF-23A was designed to "Supercruise". This meant that the YF-23A "Black Widow II" could cruise supersonic without the use of engine augmentation or "afterburning." The first flight of YF-23A PAV-2 took place on October 27, 1990, with Northrop test pilot Jim Sandberg at the controls.

The YF-23A "Black Widow II" PAV-2 (S/N 87-801) on display at the Western Museum of Flight is on long term loan to the Western Museum of Flight from NASA. YF-23A "Black Widow II" PAV-1 (S/N 87-800) is currently at the USAF Test Center Museum at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The Western Museum of Flight's YF-23A "Black Widow II" PAV-2 used two General Electric YF120 engines. YF-23A PAV-1 used two Pratt & Whitney YF119 engines. YF-23A "Black Widow II" PAV-2 was delivered in October 1995 to the Northrop Grumman Hawthorne facility where it underwent some preliminary repairs in preparation for formal restoration activities at the Western Museum of Flight.


YF-23A "Black Widow II" Specifications
Manufacturers Prime Contractor: Northrop Corporation, Aircraft Division, Hawthorne, CA 
Principal Subcontractor: McDonnell Douglas Corporation, St. Louis, MO
Number Built Two: PAV-1 (s/n 87-800) and PAV-2 (s/n 87-801)
Wing Span 43.6 feet
Overall Length 67.4 feet
Overall Height 13.9 feet
Speed (Maximum) Mach 2+
Range (Maximum) 750 to 800 Nm
Altitude (Maximum) 65,000 feet
Powerplants PAV-2: (2) General Electric YF120 jet engines 
PAV-1: (2) Pratt & Whitney YF119 Engines


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