Re: YF-220 and X-273 removed from Dan Javorsek resume

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Message posted by Peter Merlin (Member since 11/13/2003) on July 01, 2023 at 15:22:49 PST:

That is a fair question and it highlights the abused the MDS system has suffered since it was established in 1962.

MDS designations were supposed to be allocated according to mission and in numerical order. This logical construct has eroded over the past several decades.

One example is the Northrop F-20 that first flew in 1982. At the time of its conception, the company created a radically upgraded version of the F-5 for export. It received the designation F-5G, but Northrop wanted a number that would be more advantageous for marketing. The original F-5A was introduced in 1959. Why would anyone wish to buy an airplane based on an antiquated design. The F-5G was thoroughly modern, so it deserved a modern desgination. The most recent MDS designation issued was F-18, so the F-5G should have become the F-19, but Northrop wanted a round number that sounded better in marketing brochures. So, it became the F-20. That left F-19 as a missing number in the sequence, leading many people to think it had been assigned to a secret airplane (the Lockheed "stealth fighter").

Some experimental aircraft should have received X-designations, but did not. Examples include the D-558-1 and D-558-2, HL-20, M2-F1, M2-F2, and M2-F3, to name a few.

Occasionally an X-designation was applied to an aircraft before that designation was officially assigned, leading to later confusion when an official MDS was assigned. Examples include the "X-35 Crew Return Vehicle" which was later officially designated X-38, and the "Lockheed Martin X-32 Joint Strike Fighter" concept mock-up which underwent extensive redesign before becoming the X-35 while X-32 was assigned to the Boeing JSF design. The X 44 was suggested for use with a tailless F-22 Raptor airframe (dubbed MANTA for Multi-Axis No-Tail Aircraft), but that project was cancelled. Confusingly, an unmanned vehicle called Manta was given the designation X-44A, though that might not have been an official designation.

The X-32 and X-35 should have received YF-designations like the YF-22 and YF-23. Perhaps someone felt the X-desgnations had more prestige.

In the late 1990s, a modernized, stretched version of the C-130 Hercules was briefly saddled with nonconforming MDS designations C-130J-30 and CC-130J.

Don't even get me started on the F-16 series that in now rife with weird designations: F-16AM, F-16CJ, F-16V, etc. That way lies madness.

In Reply to: Re: YF-220 and X-273 removed from Dan Javorsek resume posted by Altner on July 01, 2023 at 13:18:59 PST:


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