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if "cool looks" was a factor, IMHO the YF-23 is near the top.

Yes, amazing looking aircraft. Never seen more beautiful lethality in an airplane.

I've always thought it was a shame the YF-23 wasn't developed into the role eventually filled by the F-35. It had a lower radar cross-section than the F-22, could supercruise faster, had better range, and with the deletion of the afterburners (not necessary for the revised role, especially when you can truck along at M1.8 without them) it could have opened up a lot of space for additional weapons storage.[0] And it was a long way to being a developed aircraft. Could have been finished much more cheaply than the F-35, no doubt.[1]

[0] Not sure of the CG shift implications, though.

[1] Not sure if those savings would have been eaten up by higher operating costs.

Well, the F-23 was never going to be VSTOL, nor take off a carrier. So it never would have fulfilled the roles of the F-35. It would have been a nice replacement for the F-111 and Strike Eagle however.

I remember an artistic rendering of the A-12 Avenger when I was younger. I thought it was the coolest plane I had ever seen.

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