Raptor Revisionism

Looking back on the F-22 program’s evolution, the Air Force probably made an error in selecting Lockheed’s YF-22 in the advanced tactical fighter competition in the late 1980s, since Northrop Grumman’s YF-23 was the better model, Barry Watts, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said Tuesday at the Center for National Policy’s forum on the F-22 in Washington, D.C. Watts said Northrop’s engineers spent a lot of time making sure the YF-23 could be easily transitioned with little modification into a fighter bomber boasting a 1,500-mile combat radius without much effect on its low-observable capabilities. In hindsight, Watts said, the Air Force probably went with the Lockheed design due to the overruns associated with Northrop’s B-2A bomber program since it would avoid the appearance of putting all the eggs in one basket. (For more Daily Report coverage on CNP’s Raptor forum, read The Raptor Numbers Game)