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Boeing X-32 JSF (Joint Stike Fighter) Technology Demonstrator (2000)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 7/2/2014

The Boeing X-32 competed - and failed - against the Lockheed submission, which went on to become the F-35.

The Boeing X-32 was a prototype aircraft developed for the US military's Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. The Boeing submission faced off against the Lockheed X-35 which went on to win the lucrative defense contract, leaving the X-32 to the pages of military aviation history. The Lockheed X-35 saw further development before becoming the F-35 "Lightning II" multi-role, VTOL-capable (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) aircraft for the United States Air Force. The F-35 is expected to be formally introduced after 2016.

The Joint Strike Fighter Program was born in 1994 in an effort to streamline requirements by both the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the United States Department of Defense (US DoD). The purpose of the program would be to develop a multi-role minded aircraft capable of short, vertical and conventional take-offs and landings and deliver advanced ordnance within cost. The aircraft would replace a slew of modern though aging types in service with the US military. Initial proposals were submitted with The Boeing Company and Lockheed Martin being selected for their design concepts in 1996. The program would be government-funded to help contain project costs in the long-term and each company would be charged with producing a pair of prototypes for evaluation. The JSF winner would ultimately stock hundreds, possibly thousands of examples within the US inventory with international sales possible.

The Boeing submission was designated as the "X-32". At its core, it was a sleek design offering with sharp angles worked seamlessly into smooth contours utilizing all learned concepts of "stealth" flight and radar evasion. The cockpit was set to the front of the fuselage behind a short nose assembly. The delta-shaped wings were high-mounted and negated the use of conventional tailplanes while the empennage sported a pair of outward canted vertical tail fins. Power was supplied from a single Pratt & Whitney F119 series turbofan engine of 28,000lbs thrust capable of afterburning (43,000lbs thrust) and aspirated through a chin-mounted air-intake assembly. This intake duct system promoted a very deep fuselage appearance for the X-32, giving it its unique shape. The engine exhausted at the rear through a specially developed port intended to minimize the aircraft's radar signature. The undercarriage was of a conventional tricycle arrangement with a pair of single-wheeled main legs under each wing and a single-wheeled nose leg under the intake assembly. The pilot held a commanding view of the action around the aircraft thanks to a raised cockpit position and lightly-framed canopy design. The canopy opened by sliding rearwards.

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Specifications for the
Boeing X-32 JSF (Joint Stike Fighter)
Technology Demonstrator

Focus Model: Boeing X-32A JSF
Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: Boeing Company - USA
Initial Year of Service: 2000
Production: 2

Crew: 1

Length: 45.01 ft (13.72 m)
Width: 35.99 ft (10.97 m)
Height: 17.32ft (5.28 m)
Weight (Empty): 0 lb (0 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 37,920 lb (17,200 kg)

Powerplant: 2 x Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan engines generating up to 43,000lbs of thrust with afterburning.

Maximum Speed: 1,243 mph (2,000 kmh; 1,080 kts)
Maximum Range: 979 miles (1,575 km)
Service Ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,240 m; 9.5 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 0 feet-per-minute (0 m/min)

Hardpoints: 0
Armament Suite:
1 x 20mm M61A-2 cannon OR 1 x 27mm Mauser BK-27 cannon

Mission-specific ordnance would have included any of the following:

2 OR 6 x AMRAAM air-to-air missiles held in internal bays.
2 x 2,000lb guided bombs held in internal bays in place of four AMRAAM units.

Maximum external loadout was reported to be about 15,000lbs of ordnance.

X-32A - Initial Prototype Model

X-32B - Secondary and Final Prototype Model

United States