The YF-17 Cobra was a Northrop Aviation creation through NASA to support further testing and research of aircraft at transonic speeds (meaning just underneath the speed of sound, or 700-780mph / 1,127-1,255kph). The YF-17 Cobra was, itself, born from the United States Air Force's Lightweight Fighter Program.
The Lightweight Fighter Program called for a prototype that was small and low cost / maintenance, with the capabilities of an air superiority day fighter. Though losing out to the General Dynamics YF-16 (later to become the F-16 Fighting Falcon), the YF-17 would see bluer skies in the form of the later F/A-18 Hornet aboard the carrier of the United States Navy.
After the failed LWF fly-off competition for the YF-17 Cobra, tests began with NASA over a seven week period that included in-flight pressure data recorded through sensors from all over the aircraft airframe, studies in transonic maneuverability, and stability and control factors in controlled forty-five minute long flights.
In the end, the YF-17 Cobra would set the stage for the first prototypes and production models of the highly successful F/A-18 series of aircraft, leading up to the "Super Hornet" design and the eventual successor to the much regarded F-14 Tomcat series of carrier-based interceptors.
Production 2 Units
Nothrop Aviation - USA
United States (cancelled)
- X-Plane / Developmental
55.77 ft (17 m)
114.83 ft (35 m)
16.40 ft (5 m)
17,196 lb (7,800 kg)
34,348 lb (15,580 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Northrop YF-17A (Cobra) production model)
2 x General Electric YJ101-100 afterburning turbojet engines developing 14,400lb thrust each.
1,496 mph (2,407 kph; 1,300 kts)
49,213 feet (15,000 m; 9.32 miles)
2,989 miles (4,811 km; 2,598 nm)
50,000 ft/min (15,240 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Northrop YF-17A (Cobra) production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
1 x 20mm Vulcan internal cannon
2 x AIM-9 Sidewinder Air-to-Air (AA) missiles on wingtips
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Northrop YF-17A (Cobra) production model)
YF-17 "Cobra" - Technology demonstrator
F/A-18 "Hornet" - Larger / heavier variant based on the YF-17.
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