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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