June 9, 1974: YF-17 Cobra First Flight

  • Published
  • Air Force Flight Test Center

The YF-17 Cobra made its first flight, piloted by Hank Chouteau on this day. The aircraft, powered by two after burning YF101-GE-100 turbojet engines, marked Northrop’s entry into the Lightweight Fighter competition. Although, it lost out to General Dynamics F-16 and the project was terminated on January 13, 1975, the aircraft reappeared as a combined fighter and light attack plane for the U.S. Navy as the F/A-18 Hornet.

The Northrop YF-17 Cobra entered testing as a prototype lightweight fighter aircraft designed by Northrop Aviation for the United States Air Force's Lightweight Fighter technology evaluation program.

The Lightweight Fighter program was initiated because many in the fighter community believed that aircraft like the F-15 Eagle were too large and expensive for many combat roles. The Cobra stood as the culmination of a long line of Northrop designs, beginning with the N-102 Fang in 1956 and continuing through the F-5 family.

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