Why YF-23 Lost to YF-22? The Only Man Who Flew Both F-22 & YF-23 Share Details

Test Pilot Paul Metz the only man who flew both F-22 & YF-23 gives an in-depth brief on the YF-23 and the Advanced Tactical Fighter program, including his thoughts on why the F-22 won.

Test pilot Paul Metz started his career as an F-105G Wild Weasel pilot in Vietnam and went on to become one of America’s preeminent test pilots.

He flew Northrop’s YF-23 on its first flight during the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) competition that pitted the jet against Lockheed’s YF-22 and also went on to do the same for the F-22A.

In the video below, he describes what the ATF program was like from the inside and just how good the YF-23 actually was.


The lecture was put on at the Western Museum Of Flight—where one of the YF-23 is on display.

After flying the pre-production F-22, a far more mature machine than the YF-23 ever was, he makes it quite clear that Northrop’s offering was on par with Lockheed’s, if not superior.

The hardest hitting quote comes at the end of the lecture by the two test pilots, where Metz states:

“Never hang your head in shame about what we did. We built a tremendous product that would stand side-by-side with anything else, and in many cases exceed the capabilities of anything else. And we can always be proud of that.”

Both aircraft met the ATF requirements and that Lockheed was chosen because the Air Force had greater confidence they could better manage the program.

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  1. Consultant In Actions

    Herein, was the Mistake. The USAF, should be the agency managing the Project. First, you put the Project out to Bid. The Contestants are Narrowed Down to Two. Next, the Prototypes are put into Production, 3 each. The Country, then determines which is the Best Aircraft. No Exceptions are considered. Next, they go into Testing, Functional Testing, Flight Testing, to include Extreme Testing. Altitude Limits, and allowing the Test Pilot, in an attempt to fulfill those limits, in order to understand, how the Limits affect the Aircraft.
    Speed, Descent Rapidity and Function. Where is the Stall Breaking Point. Takeoff, to Fighting Altitude time, as well as Maximum Vertical Takeoff, to 50,000 Ft. Time and Max Speed Achieved.

    Air Combat Capability vs China SU 57 and China’s new Fighter.

    Is this new Fighter, Superior to all others? If not, Why? Then the F-35 and how it measures to others.
    The United States, is no more than ever before, being Challenged by the PRC and it’s serious. China’s reach, will soon reach into Africa, South America, Cuba, and even Panama. All the while, this has been taking place, the Previous Administrations, has sat idly by as China has been expanding.

    WHY NOT YF 23 AND F22 … After all, Managing The Project, Lockheed, destroyed all tooling for the F-22?

  2. I believe the f22 raptor is a fine airplane and is a good way to burn up tax dollars. Personally i like the flying wing design of northorp grunman and you can really see that in the black widow. They yf-23 did out preform the lockheed design but its like with everything somebody was given a kickback to pick lockheed. I think northrop grunman has superior aircraft in general and i have no idea execpt financial as to why we are still using lockheed martin.

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