This topic has probaly come up many times here, and before I start I do not intend on starting a war with F-22 fans, but should the YF-23 be where the F-22 is today.
The YF-23 could have and should have won the ATF selection program in 1990. Here is why I think it should have won.
The YF-22 and YF-23 were different in many ways. The YF-23 was designed for speed and maneuverability. The YF-22, however, was designed more for maneuverability. Both aircraft, were designed for supercruise. The YF-23 was slightly more aerodynamic as it's cruising speed was M 1.25, M 0.08 faster than the YF-22, roughly taking into account the different powerplant options. Both powerplants were roughly equal but the F120 was better suited to supercruise.
According to the Air Force, it selected the YF-22 because the production F-22 was better designed for maintainability, greater potential for future development, and slightly lower cost. A popular view is that the decision reflected a preference for maneuverability over stealth.
It is universally held that the YF-23 was by far the better looking aircraft. The YF-23 is a very unstable aircraft and when this is coupled with a fly-by-wire control system, results in a very agile aircraft. Another attribute that lends itself to high mobility is the rudervator tail.
The YF-23 was stealthier than the F-22. The two rudderavators reduce the RCS of the YF-23 significantly. The F-22 design uses a traditional configuration, this makes the RCS larger. The larger bottom fuselage lets the YF-23 pack more missiles and other expendable weapons. The intake duct starts on the lower edge of the wing and moves through it onto the top of the wing. This feature can also reduce the radar signature from a look down- shoot down radar from an aircraft flying overhead.
The YF-23 had greater fuel capacity and therefor longer range. By having a larger wing area and greater fuselage volume, the fuel storage of the YF-23 is increased over the F-22.
The YF-23 can fly longer CAP missions. It can fly deeper into enemy territory without the need of tanker support. As a result fewer aircraft must be purchased and less money needs to be spent on refuling tankers.
The only thing I can see that was missing is thrust vectoring and that wasn't an ATF requirement, just an advantage the F-22 had over the YF-23 that the USAF seemed to like more, since the Russians had it they felt they needed it too.
Imagine what could have been, The F-23 Black Widow II. Polotics doesn't work.