F-112 to F-116: the missing years. (2024)

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By: mobryan - 18th September 2006 at 02:28

Meaningless trivia, but.
After the F-111, the US designations jump right to the F-117.
Is/was there a F-112/F-116?

And does anybody have a good theory why the Nighthawk got stuck with the F-117 moniker anyhow? I understand the F for fighter part, it was a sop to the bomber generals that were trying to keep the B-1A up, and its easier to get pilots for a F plane than a B or A. But how did they go from the teen series, back to the century series?

The only things I could come up with was
A: espionage, keep the Russian guessing.
B1: It was a Skunksworks aircraft, and Kelly Johnson said so :D:D:D (I know, he was "retired", but you don't retire a legend like that.)
B2: (a stretch) a snipe at the Pentagon over the whole RS/SR-71 glitch, which DID irk Ben Rich
C: Maybe it WAS the "F-19", until the model companies got in on the act???

As far as that goes, what happened to the F-24 to F-34?

Matt

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By: djcross - 18th September 2006 at 02:39 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

Those numbers were given to Soviet aircraft in the possession of the Aircraft Analysis Branch of Air Force Systems Command. The Soviet aircraft were obtained from Egypt shortly after the Camp David Accords were signed.

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By: mobryan - 18th September 2006 at 02:55 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

That explains that part, then.

now how about the F-117?

Matt

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By: SOC - 18th September 2006 at 02:59 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

Check this out:

http://www.designation-systems.net/usmilav/coverdesignations.html

As for F-24 to F-34, the USAF had decided to apply the F-32 or F-35 designator to the JSF winner to maintain continuity with the X-32 and X-35.

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By: Meat - 18th September 2006 at 04:16 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

There is (or was) a black project aircraft at Groom Lake designated YF-24.

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By: sferrin - 18th September 2006 at 04:19 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

There is (or was) a black project aircraft at Groom Lake designated YF-24.

Any info at all on that even if only where you heard it mentioned?

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By: Meat - 18th September 2006 at 04:40 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

There is (or was) a black project aircraft at Groom Lake designated YF-24.
Any info at all on that even if only where you heard it mentioned?

Dreamland Resort is the very best site for real (i.e., non-UFO) information regarding Groom Lake. They list a very brief reference to an aircraft designated YF-24, flown in the late 90s by USAF test pilot Joseph Lanni. Supposedly, the reference comes from his unclassified service biography.

Interestingly, regarding the YF-113, the article states that the YF-113 A-E were "cover" designations for MiG-17 and MiG-23s, but there was a prototype designated YF-113G, flown by Dennis Sager in the early 90s, not related to any MiG.

Here's the link: http://www.dreamlandresort.com/black_projects/black_projects_history.html

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By: Jackonicko - 18th September 2006 at 11:10 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

F-11X designations were used (especially in radio traffic) as cover designations for aircraft whose existance in the US inventory was not acknowledged. The YF-110 designation was re-used in this scheme

This included former Soviet equipment AND classified prototypes like the 'Senior Trend' (as the F-117 was officially known). The Tacit Blue was a YF-117D , for example, and the Bird of Prey may have had a YF-11X series designator.

The YF-110 designation is believed to have been used by MiG-21s, the YF-112 by the MiG-17, and the YF-113 by the MiG-23, though the YF-113G designation was used by a more highly classified black world programme.

The YF-24 designation surfaced in a bio of Colonel Joe Lanni.

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By: DTJJ - 18th September 2006 at 17:54 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

For the record, it should be mentioned that Ben Rich stated that '117' was a meaningless Lockheed in-house working designation for Senior Trend long before it was built, and that the number stuck.

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Interestingly, Lanni's biography is still accessible, and 'YF-24' is still mentioned. When it first appeared the biog also mentioned 'YF-113G', but this has long been removed.

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SOC said: "As for F-24 to F-34, the USAF had decided to apply the F-32 or F-35 designator to the JSF winner to maintain continuity with the X-32 and X-35."

That's correct, but why were they designated X-32 and X-35 in the first place? Assuming that the F-24 already existed, the JSFs should logically have been YF-25/26, but that would lead to questions about what the F-24 was. Easier to dump them into the X-plane category! (well, it's a good theory!!!!)

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By: Lightndattic - 18th September 2006 at 18:24 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

That's correct, but why were they designated X-32 and X-35 in the first place?

Those were the next available X-plane designations.

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By: sferrin - 18th September 2006 at 18:38 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

For the record, it should be mentioned that Ben Rich stated that '117' was a meaningless Lockheed in-house working designation for Senior Trend long before it was built, and that the number stuck.

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Interestingly, Lanni's biography is still accessible, and 'YF-24' is still mentioned. When it first appeared the biog also mentioned 'YF-113G', but this has long been removed.

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SOC said: "As for F-24 to F-34, the USAF had decided to apply the F-32 or F-35 designator to the JSF winner to maintain continuity with the X-32 and X-35."

That's correct, but why were they designated X-32 and X-35 in the first place? Assuming that the F-24 already existed, the JSFs should logically have been YF-25/26, but that would lead to questions about what the F-24 was. Easier to dump them into the X-plane category! (well, it's a good theory!!!!)

How they ended up with X designators is rather convoluted but makes sense when you hear it.

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By: Anonymous - 18th September 2006 at 18:46 Permalink - Edited 22nd October 2019 at 22:29

Would it be fair to assume that the Su-27(s) test-flown in the US would also have been assigned a cover-designation of this type? Perhaps this might account for one of the 'missing' designators?

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By: DTJJ - 18th September 2006 at 18:54 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

"Those were the next available X-plane designations."

That's not what I meant - why were they in the X category in the first place?

(Official reasons are funding provenance and not wishing to imply any 'fly-off' element to the competition, both of which are no more or less plausible, IMHO, than the 'hiding the F-24' theory)

Anyway, strictly speaking yours is only a half-true statement, as the 'next available X-plane designations' were X-35 and X-36 (X-33 and X-34 had already been assigned). The X-32 designation was originally applied to the CALF/JAST project (forerunner of JSF) and was re-used later for the JSF. Remember the Lockheed 'X-32' lift-fan demonstrator?

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By: SOC - 18th September 2006 at 20:04 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

X-32 was originally assigned to the DARPA CALF demonstrator. CALF metamorphosized into JSF, and when two designs were going to be trialled, a second designator, X-35, was assigned for the second airframe. These planes were given X-series designators to denote that they were basically technology demonstrators and research aircraft studying new propulsion methods for STOVL, rather than actual prototypes of combat aircraft.

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By: DTJJ - 19th September 2006 at 09:43 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

These planes were given X-series designators to denote that they were basically technology demonstrators and research aircraft studying new propulsion methods for STOVL, rather than actual prototypes of combat aircraft.

Well there's no point in having a cover story if it isn't plausible!! ;)

Honestly, I have no reason to disbelieve the official line, but the conspiracy guys do make a valid point.

I also don't believe that LM or Boeing were under any illusions about what they were doing with the JSF CDAs - they were building aerodynamic prototypes of new fighters to demonstrate the performance of their design concepts and technologies against a set of requirements, and one of them was going on to be developed into an 'F' designation aircraft. Leaving aside any reference to a 'YF-24', I maintain that they should have had 'YF' designations, just as the YF-22/YF-23 had during a similar 'non-competitive concept/technology demonstration'.

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By: SOC - 19th September 2006 at 14:25 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

The YF-22/YF-23 competition was most definitely a competitive fly-off of sorts, even if the aircraft weren't pitted against each other directly. The difference with the JSF program was that you had two STOVL concepts, neither of which were fully guaranteed to work. There was always a chance that neither aircraft would function adequately and that a third design would be sought. This was not the case with the ATF program as we knew we were going to end up with one or the other by that point. If the X-32 and X-35 were really true prototypes, then so was the EAP.

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By: DTJJ - 19th September 2006 at 15:35 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

I'm not really disagreeing with you in any big way here, but I think the research aircraft (i.e. X-planes) tag for the JSF CDAs is somewhat misrepresentative. If the requirement had been purely to demonstrate the STOVL systems, the aircraft would have looked very different and been a lot cheaper. As it was, they had to demonstrate other capabilities, such as carrier compatibility etc. By the time all these other requirements were taken into consideration the end result looked pretty much like a fighter requirement to me.

Which is why both companies were bullishly trotting out lots of 'this is what the production aircraft will look like' material long before the CDAs got into the air. Is that the behaviour of companies producing research craft?

I'll concede that Boeing's CDA was possibly more deserving of an 'X' designation because they realised that they had got it wrong but did not have the time to redesign before the CDA phase began. In that case I suppose the X-32 was a research aircraft, but only by default! I'm sure Boeing would rather have had the time to be flying an aerodynamic prototype of their intended production configuration.

EAP - looks nothing like EF2000.
YF-22 - looks nothing like F-22.
X-35 - looks very like F-35.

and projected 'F-32' looked like X-32 with tailplanes (or like the X-32 that Boeing would rather have flown)

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By: mobryan - 20th September 2006 at 01:45 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

For the record, it should be mentioned that Ben Rich stated that '117' was a meaningless Lockheed in-house working designation for Senior Trend long before it was built, and that the number stuck.

Any citation? I've gone through the revelent parts of "Skunk Works". Just wondering if I missed it or it was someplace else.

thanks,

Matt

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By: Coach - 20th September 2006 at 08:47 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

There is (or was) a black project aircraft at Groom Lake designated YF-24.

In another thread, we have already discussed the possible existence of a "black" aircraft wit the name YF-24, here:

http://forum.keypublishing.co.uk/showthread.php?t=57336&page=1&pp=30&highlight=F-24

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F-112 to F-116: the missing years. (2024)
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