Meet The X32: The Boeing’s Stealth Fighter That Lost To F-35
Meet the X-32 Stealth Fighter, that could have made the F-35 never happen and the plane that could have taken f-35’s place. In the 1990s both Boeing and Lockheed Martin bid for the next big fighter aircraft contract. The bid was for the next fighter aircraft that would serve the United States Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps as well as many allies of the US. Boeing served the X-32 and the Lockheed served the X-35 to the competition.
The pentagon’s choice was the F-35. What if the Department of Defense chose the X-32?
Brief History About X-32
At the end of the cold war, the Pentagon proposed a new joint fighter project to reduce overall maintenance and development costs. All of the fighter flying services the Air Force, Navy, and the Marine Corps needed replacements for their fourth-generation fighters F-15, F-16, F/A-18, and AV-8B Harriers. So the new fighter must have conventional, carrier, and STOVL(short take-off vertical landing) capabilities.
Even though the DOD had not much luck with joint programs, it was worth the effort considering how easy is to maintain a shared fighter aircraft between different forces. In a time of all nations were seeking a fifth-generation fighter, it was obvious that the winner will have a great export success too.
Capabilities of X-32 Stealth Fighter
Both the X-32 and the F-35 had relatively similar performance parameters. To give the F-35 a competition on cost, Boeing designed the X- 32 around a single piece of the delta wing. The X-32 did not have the shaft-driven turbofan life like the F-35, but instead, it used the same thrust vectoring system as the AV-8 Harrier. The system of the X-32 was less advanced as well as less complicated than the F-35’s system.
The X-32 could reach a speed of MACH 1.6 in flight. It could carry either six AMRAAMs or two missiles and two bombs in the weapons bay. Range and the stealth features of the X-32 were very similar to the ones of the F-35 although the body of the aircraft could carry much of the advanced electronic equipment than that F-35 now carries.
However, the F-35 went to become the largest Pentagon project of all-time defeating the X-32 and many didn’t like its look as well. Guess we will never know that the X-32 would have run into the same problems as the F-35.