Platforms That Never Were: F-19

The F-19 is one of the most unusual hypothetical platforms in Command. Other such units are based off clear design specifications, while the F-19 is based off a mix of a misconception, a model, and a fiction book.

The F-19 designation has been controversial from the start, as it was skipped over, from the F/A-18, to the proposed F-20. There’ve been numerous theories, from Northrop wanting 20 for some reason, to deliberate deception.

Understandably kept extremely hushed, the stealth program that resulted in the F-117 was nonetheless the subject of much speculation. More than a few commentators noticed the missing F-19 designation and not unreasonably assumed it was the stealth fighter.

Model companies capitalized on the speculation, most notably Testors, whose F-19-a sleek, smooth aircraft, was the antithesis of the actual angular F-117. (Ironically, more powerful computers meant that later stealth aircraft like the B-2 and F-22 would be more truly streamlined than the stopgap Nighthawk).

The F-19 legend was further cemented in the classic book Red Storm Rising, where it plays a prominent role. Nicknamed “Frisbee”, for its very un-F-117 like shape, the aircraft in question is more capable than the single-mission historical stealth fighter.

In-game, the F-19 is faster, more agile, has more avionics/countermeasures, and can carry a wider range of weapons than the real F-117 (at least in the 1980s), at the cost of a slightly bigger radar cross section. Even some seemingly anachronistic features like unguided bombs and anti-runway munitions make more sense for its role as a desperation delay weapon in WWIII Europe-unlike in the Gulf War, the Soviets would not wait for the weather to clear up, and would use their air force extensively. As such, serving the USAF in such a role is the most technically “suitable” use in Command, although it could fill in for F-117s in any scenario that would call for them.