F-22 vs YF-23

In the 1980s, while the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a high-stakes race to the finish line of the Cold War, the United States Air Force developed a new Advanced Tactical Fighter to compete with and potentially outclass the Soviet Union’s Su-27.

YF-23 vs. F-22: Which was really better?

On reflection, some might wonder why the “stealthiest” option was not chosen between the two competing finalists: the Northrop Grumman YF-23 and the Lockheed Martin F-22. Of course, the F-22 was chosen.

Of course, the F-22 was chosen after prototypes of each had been built and multiple evaluations by the Air Force. Though potentially stealthier than the F-22, according to some observers, and better in thrust-to-weight ratio calculations, prototypes of the YF-23 are now in museums.

F-22 and YF-23 Specifications

If we take a look at the specifications of each one, compiled by Bill Sweetman in 1991, “YF-22 and YF-23 Advanced Tactical Fighters”, we see that. Indeed, the YF-23 has a superior thrust-to-weight ratio, estimated at 1.36.

However, the F-22’s relationship to the YF-23 is far superior. However, based on the collected data, the F-22’s ratio is much lower – 1.08. Simply put, the thrust-to-weight ratio is related to acceleration, that is the “gusts” with which you can take off and maneuver in flight as needed.

F-22 vs. YF-23

The thrust-to-weight ratio determines a fighter’s ability to “jump” into position, avoid incoming fire, and make lethal contact with the enemy. Both the YF-23 and YF-22 reach similar speeds of Mach 2.25.

However, the F-22 displays a supercruise speed in excess of Mach 1.8, compared to the YF-23’s speed of 1.6. The F-22’s supercruise speed would be Mach 1.8. Supercruise speed would prove extremely critical, as it allows more dwell time on targets and the ability to maneuver for longer periods without afterburner.

The pairing

Several articles on the two aircraft state that despite the difference in thrust-to-weight ratio, the F-22 was more agile and maneuverable. However, the F-22 has been noted for its agility and air-to-air maneuverability. These characteristics of the F-22 may have been an important factor in choosing it.

However, despite claims by some that the YF-23 is stealthier, a close examination of the airframes certainly raises questions about stealth. The extent of thermal signature thermal management, radar-absorbent cladding materials, internal weapons bay configuration, hard spots, and an internally buried engine could prove difficult to discern.

F-22 vs. YF-23

The F-22 is stealthier.

Perhaps the stealthiest aircraft will only be determined through detailed testing and evaluation. At the same time, examining the airframes suggests that the F-22 is more stealthy

The F-22 has a more homogeneous body and wings horizontal fuselage, while the YF-23’s twin-engine exhaust appears more angular and jagged, with two protruding or raised engine exhaust jets.

Although the F-22 was chosen by the US Air Force, future aviation analysts could question the decision. There will always be speculation as to which of the two aircraft performed better, as many variables were factored into the decision, but the F-22 has come to be regarded by observers and advocates as the most dominant air supremacy platform ever to exist.