A third YF-23?

Message posted by Steve Douglass on August 06, 2007 at 11:48:31 PST:

I remember quite awhile back postings about a possible bomber version of the YF-23 that Northrop was working on to compete with Lockheed's FB-22 concept.

Some posters noticed that the two known YF-23s were yanked from their displays at the Western Museum of Flight in Hawthorne, California and at Edwards AFB for "refurbishment" by Northrop, but speculated they were being used to test concepts for the new bomber.

After a model of the bomber version of the YF-23 appeared on (of all places) EBay -- Northrop Grumman came clean and admitted to the project in an article that ran in AVWK.

Then lately aviation buffs noticed one of the prototypes showing back up at Hawthorn parked between to buildings and the other YF-23 is now at back the Air Force Museum in Dayton. Pictures on their website show it in their refurbishment building.

So -that accounts for all YF-23s right?

Well, maybe not. I recently spotted an aircraft that looks suspiciously like a YF-23 on GoogleEearth at a bone yard located inside the White Sands Missile Range not too far from the RATSCAT facility where they test the RCS of many stealth prototypes including the F-117.

This brings up several interesting questions. Are there more than two YF-23 prototypes and could their be more-- maybe (speculation) a secret squadron of F-23s operating out of some secret base -- or is the YF-23 on the range -- just a mock-up- for RCS testing?

To find the YF-23 I'm talking about, just do a search on Google Earth
( with Google Earth Community turned on) for the phrase "YF-23 in NM" and you'll find it.

You'll notice it parked next to some other derelict F-4s and older jets most likely used for target practice or drones.

It's painted bright white to protect it from the elements just like they do to some of the aircraft stored at Davis Monthan and hidden from ground line-of-site surrounded by what looks like cargo containers.

If it is a YF-123-- I hope they aren't considering using it for target practice or just letting it waste away in the New Mexico desert.

If they don't want it-- I'll take it and put it on a pole in my front yard.

Very interesting what you can find on Google Earth.

-Steve Douglass


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