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. (The serial version of the YF-22A Lightning II was later renamed to the present name, F-22 Raptor.)
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.
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