The F-23 included some characteristics that may eventually find themselves in a sixth generation fighter, or perhaps in the Air Force’s “deep interceptor” intended to support B-21 Raiders on the way to their targets. For example, the V-tail aspect has been mentioned in some of the early conceptualization for a next generation fighter. And Boeing will undoubtedly hearken back to its experience with the F-23 when thinking about its next fighter.
For years, one of the two YF-23 prototypes sat in the Hangar of Unwanted Planes (more formally known as the Research and Development Hangar) at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. The YF-23 was positioned right under the last remaining XB-70 Valkyrie, the centerpiece of the museum’s collection. Both aircraft have now moved to the newly opened fourth building of the museum, where they continue to represent alternative visions of the (past) future of the Air Force, visions deeply grounded in the industrial and organizational realities of American airpower.
Robert Farley, a frequent contributor to TNI, is a Visiting Professor at the United States Army War College. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. This piece was originally two that appeared April 2019 and have been combined and republished due to reader's interest.