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.
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
Prime Contractor: Northrop Corporation, Aircraft Division,
Principal Subcontractor: McDonnell Douglas Corporation, St. Louis,
Two: PAV-1 (s/n 87-800) and PAV-2 (s/n 87-801)
750 to 800 Nm
PAV-2: (2) General Electric YF120 jet engines
PAV-1: (2) Pratt & Whitney YF119 Engines