There's more to it than all of that...
For one thing, the YF-23 wasn't more advanced. It was stealthier, but that's about it.
The F-22 traded some stealth for maneuverability, which gives the F-22 quite an edge for its role. The YF-23 was more of an interceptor, while the F-22 was a true fighter, with almost the same intercept ability.
As for the F-23s weapons bays, they really weren't much different than those for the F-22. Weapons on trapezes inside a weapons bay. Bay door opens, trapezes extends, weapon fires, trapezes returns to bay, door closes.
The real advantages for the F-22 were its better speed, weapons and maneuverability.
The F-22 is a lot faster than most people think, and a lot faster than the F-23 would have been. While many in the public believed the F-23 was faster [mostly due to propaganda on Northrop’s part], that is simply not the case, and never has been.
By better weapons, I mean the makeup of the weapons load. the F-23 would have held four AIM-120s and four AIM-9s, which is the same loadout that the F-15 usually carries. The F-22 was designed to carry six AIM-120s and only two AIM-9s, this gives the F-22 a big edge in BVR combat, which is what most fighter combat is these days.
Maneuverability explains itself, the F-22 could fly circles around any F-23.
This doesn't mean the F-23 is a bad aircraft, just the it was intended for a different role than the ATF program was intended to fill [Air Dominance Fighter, not Interceptor]. The F-23 also lacked some key things [speed to make up for its lack of maneuverability would have helped, bigger internal weapons bays would have been handy].
This also doesn't mean that F-22 doesn't have some lacks... Once more its internal weapons bay is too small [still bigger than the F-23, of course, but still]. This has limited the F-22s ground-attack ability, and by way of that put the whole program in serious jeopardy on the congressional level. Any attempt to make the bay bigger would add lots of cost and hurt the F-22s speed [but it'll probably still be done on a future model].
Also, I could mention the F-22s advantage when it comes to radar... But I'll leave that alone for now.
As for a light bomber version of the YF-23... I'd like to see such a contest happen. A stretched version of the YF-23, with a much bigger internal weapons bay and P&W F135 engines would be a hard interim-bomber to beat.
That said, it would have competition from the FB-22, and considering how far along the F-22 program is, and how much R&D could be saved by going with the FB-22... And the 'FB-23's lack of advantages... I don't see it happening.
But then again, I don't see the FB-22 happening either... The Airforce doesn't have the money, and congress doesn't give a crap.
There's a big difference between what the Airforce needs, and what the Airforce can get. We need 600 F-22s, we're going to get 130. We need 1,200 F-35s, we're going to get about 500. We need 100 new Stealth Bombers, we're going to get none.
The Airforce is in the early throws of a 'crash', a train wreck of sorts, caused by the congress expecting the USAF to do what it did in 1991 with one fourth the budget. The bombers and tankers we paid for in the cold war are getting to the end of their service life, and we've not bought, or even seriously researched planes to replace them. We're in for a rude awakening when our bomber fleet drops to 70 combat aircraft.
Last edited by UZI4U : 05-22-2006 at 11:20 PM.