The Northrop and McDonnell Douglas proposal for the USAF's Advanced Tactical Fighter was the YF-23, which lost out to the Lockheed Martin/Boeing's YF-22. The YF-23 is a strange, alien looking plane, but it is rumored to have performed well against the YF-22. The YF-23 first flew on August 27, 1990 and the two prototypes logged 219 flight hours in 23 months. The two prototypes were distinguished by color and engines, the first was dark grey(Black Widow II) and had Pratt & Whitney YF-119 engines, while the second was silver (Grey Ghost) and had General Electric YF-120 engines.

The YF-23 was claimed to be cheaper than the YF-22 by Northrop because it used parts from existing aircraft (nosewheel and forward cockpit from an F-15E and main undercarriage from an F/A-18). Despite the company's claims that it's design was better, the YF-23 was really only marginally better in some ways than the F-22. It was slightly faster (Mach 1.8 compared to the YF-22's Mach 1.7), somwhat stealthier (40% Radar Cross Section to the YF-22's 50% RCS), and had a slightly larger payload (6 AIM-120s and 4 AIM-9s compared to the F-22's 4 AIM-120s and 4 AIM-9s). Northrop also claimed that the YF-22's only advantages were in manuverability due to it's thrust-vectoring (the YF-23 did not have this, it had a fixed lower ramp with a moveable upper one designed with stealth in mind). Also, the U.S. Navy was also more interested in the YF-22 due to it's - aledgedly - better adaptability to it's Naval Advanced Tactical Fighter program that it was holding.

Rumor has it, that it was Lockheed's industrial performance that made the Pentagon choose the YF-22 over the YF-23. Northrop's B-2 was delayed and overrunning it's budget and McDonnell Douglas was having problems with the eventually cancelled A-12 Avenger naval bomber. Lockheed on the other hand, delivered the F-117 on-time and under budget. The Airforce and the Pentagon however, refuse to comment on the choice and the decision was final. The YF-23's name, Black Widow was first used on the Northrop P-61, a twin-engined World War II night-fighter (meaning it had radar) that resembled the Lockheed P-38 Lightning (the Lockheed YF-22 was originally called the Lightning II, before being changed to - for a short period of time - Rapier, and eventually, Raptor). The black prototype (PAV-1) prototype had, for short time, a black widow design on it's underbelly, before the Northrop administration ordered it's removal. The grey YF-23 (PAV-2) was nicknamed "Grey Ghost."

In 2004, the YF-23 design was considered for the USAFs "Regional Bomber" program, along with other proposed aircraft such as the B-1R and the FB-22. As of 2007 however, the project has been put on hold for the time being.



Standard Weapons

Special Weapons

  • BDSP: JP-223 Anti Runway Submunitions (ACZ & ACX)
  • NPB: Mk.77 (ACZ & ACX)
  • QAAM: AIM-9X Sidewinder (AC5, ACZ & ACX)


Air Combat

  • Power: 90
  • Defense: 60
  • Mobility: 60
  • Stability: 90
  • Climbing Ability: 80
  • Air-to-Air: 80
  • Air-to-Ground: 80

Ace Combat 5/Zero

  • Speed: 83
  • Mobility: 83
  • Stability: 80
  • Defense: 66
  • Air-to-Air: 94
  • Air-to-Ground: 58

Comparable Aircraft



  • Global Security: YF-23A "Black Widow"

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