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Boeing X-32 JSF (Joint Stike Fighter)

United States (2000)
Picture of Boeing X-32 JSF (Joint Stike Fighter) Technology Demonstrator
Picture of Boeing X-32 JSF (Joint Stike Fighter) Technology Demonstrator Picture of Boeing X-32 JSF (Joint Stike Fighter) Technology Demonstrator
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The Boeing X-32 competed - and failed - against the Lockheed submission, which went on to become the F-35.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Boeing X-32 JSF (Joint Stike Fighter) Technology Demonstrator.  Entry last updated on 4/25/2016. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

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.


Picture of the Boeing X-32 JSF (Joint Stike Fighter) Technology Demonstrator
Picture of the Boeing X-32 JSF (Joint Stike Fighter) Technology Demonstrator


As the program was already progressing at full speed when a revised United States Navy requirement forced the Boeing team to revise the wing assemblies of their prototypes. The USN sought a revised fighter design with improved agility and broader ordnance capabilities to which Boeing engineers, much to their chagrin, obliged. The X-32 emerged with more conventional swept-back wing assemblies as well as horizontal tailplanes no installed at the rear. This design alteration would go on to prove one of the damning events for the X-32 project. The other issue lay in the Boeing team's decision to produce two separate prototypes to fulfill the conventional take-off and landing and VTOL evaluations. Lockheed, on the other hand, managed to develop a single prototype to showcase both actions which certainly helped its chances of winning.

First flight of the Boeing X-32 prototype occurred on September 18th, 2000 with a successful conventional take-off and landing. The VTOL test then followed through the second prototype on March 29th, 2001. The Pratt & Whitney engine allowed for a top speed of Mach 1.6 (1,200 miles per hour) while range was 1,574 kilometers in the X-32's conventional take-off and landing arrangement. The VTOL version - primarily for use off space-strapped carrier decks - showcased a range of 1,112 kilometers. Flight testing would end in July of 2001.

Proposed armament included an internal 20mm M61A2 series cannon. All principle ordnance would have been shielded within internal weapons bays to either side of the fuselage. This would house a possible mix of air-to-air missiles as well as the latest in guided bombs. The X-32 also could be modified to accept externally-mounted ordnance as optional (this to include plumbing for external fuel tanks increasing operational ranges). The proposed international version of the production X-32 would have featured the 27mm Mauser BK-27 series internal cannon and comparable missiles/guided bombs.

After evaluation of both systems, the Lockheed design was selected as the winner, dooming the X-32. The primary deciding factor ultimately came from Lockheed's use of a "shaft-driven" lift fan as opposed to Boeing's thrust vectoring "direct-lift" system. While more costly and unproven, the Lockheed design initiative prevailed over Boeing's "safer" endeavor. The two X-32 prototypes were then handed down to museums as showpieces while some systems devised during development for the X-32 have gone on to see implementation in Boeing's current stable of US military aircraft - proving that all was not lost.

The X-32A prototype completed 66 flights while the X-32B prototype managed 78 flights.




Cockpit picture from the Boeing X-32 JSF (Joint Stike Fighter) Technology Demonstrator
Boeing X-32 JSF (Joint Stike Fighter) Cockpit Picture


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 1300mph
Lo: 650mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (1,243mph).

    Graph average of 975 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Boeing X-32A JSF's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
2
2


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
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National Flag Graphic
Origin: United States
Year: 2000
Type: Technology Demonstrator
Manufacturer(s): Boeing Company - USA
Production: 2
Global Operators:
United States
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Boeing X-32A JSF model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
45.01 ft


Meters
13.72 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
35.99 ft


Meters
10.97 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
17.32 ft


Meters
5.28 m


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
37,920 lb


Kilograms
17,200 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan engines generating up to 43,000lbs of thrust with afterburning.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
1,243 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
2,000 kph


Knots
1,080 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
979 mi


Kilometers
1,575 km


Nautical Miles
850 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
50,000 ft


Meters
15,240 m


Miles
9.47 mi

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of a medium-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of an aircraft Gatling-style rotating gun
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Graphical image of an aircraft guided bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (0):

STANDARD:
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.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• X-32A - Initial Prototype Model
• X-32B - Secondary and Final Prototype Model