X-32: The Fighter Plane That Almost Replaced the F-35

    Robert Farley

    Security,

    So what happenned? 

    Built to the same specifications, the X-32 and the F-35 had relatively similar performance parameters. Deciding to compete on cost, Boeing designed the X-32 around a single-piece delta wing that would fit all three variants. The X-32 lacked the shaft-driven turbofan lift of the F-35, instead using the same thrust vectoring system as the AV-8 Harrier. The X-32’s system was less advanced than the F-35’s, but also less comple

    The Department of Defense (DoD) didn’t have to opt for the F-35. In the 1990s, both Boeing and Lockheed Martin bid for the next big fighter contract, a plane that would serve in each of the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, as well as grace the air forces of many US allies. Boeing served up the X-32; Lockheed the X-35.

    The Pentagon chose the F-35. Given the struggles of the last decade with the Joint Strike Fighter, it’s impossible not to wonder about what might have been; what if DoD had gone with Boeing’s X-32 instead, or with some combination of the two aircraft?

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    History:

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