18th of October 2002
It was on this day in aviation history that Boeing announced the existence of the YF-118G. Actually, the designation YF-118G was a cover and not the real designation for the aircraft. The designation however stuck and the project is still known as the YF-118G.
The project dates back to the early '90s of the previous century when McDonnell Douglas Phantom Works division for special projects, located at Area 51, started de project
The first flight was made in 1996 and a total of 40 flights were made before the project was stopped in 1996. Although details of the program remain shrouded in secrecy it is believed that the aircraft used active camouflage, which means surfaces would change it appears to match the surroundings of the aircraft. As a way of keeping the cost down and the fact, it was a demonstration aircraft it used a commercial turbofan engine, the Pratt & Whitney CanadaJT15D-5C. The flight controls were traditional manual controlled and hydraulically operated. Would the aircraft have reached production it was planned to have been fitted with fly by wire flight controls. The aircraft was aerodynamically stable by design because of the fuselage shape, the so-called Chines. These chines provided lift for the nose section of the aircraft which gave the aircraft enough natural aerodynamic stability to be flown without a horizontal stabiliser and a conventional rudder.
Asymmetric wingtip brakes were used to provide yaw control During the test program, it demonstrated advances in stealth technology like 'gapless' control surfaces that helped reduce the signature and the 'hidden' engine when viewed from the front which also help reduce the radar signature. It was given the name "Bird of Prey" in reference to the tv series The hidden intake behind the canopy Star Trek spacecraft with a similar appearance.
The low budget program of $67 million was very low cost in comparison to the other programs of the time. As the program was an internal program it did not get an X-plane designation like for example the Boeing X-45 program which used technology and materials based on research results of the YF-118G project.
The Bird of Prey on display, note the peculiar shape of the aircraft including the Chines.
Since 2003 the aircraft is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Specifications of the Bord of Prey;
Length: 46 ft 8 in (14.22 m)
Wingspan: 22 ft 8 in (6.91 m)
Height: 9 ft 3 in (2.82 m)
Wing area: 220 sq ft (20.4 m2) (estimated)
Max takeoff weight: 7,400 lb (3,356 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D-5C , 3,190 lbf (14.2 kN) thrust
Maximum speed: 260 kn (299 mph, 482 km/h)
Service ceiling: 20,000 ft (6,100 m)