It Is Really Ugly But It Almost Replaced The F-35
This jet won’t win any beauty contests, we can all see that. It would have been very embarrassing for enemies to get gunned down by a jet that looks like a slack-jawed pelican. The odd truth is that the Boeing X-32 could have been in the shoes the Lockheed-Martin F-35. So what happened to the X-32?
In 1993 the United States was looking to move beyond their fourth-generation fighter jets. DARPA initiated a development program called the Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter project (CALF) to create a jet that would replace lighter weight attack aircraft. A few years later this initiative would evolve into the Joint Strike Fighter Program.
As per tradition, Boeing was in direct competition with Lockheed-Martin to create the new universal fighter for the United States military. They were awarded $750 million each to develop a new fighter and prohibited from spending their own money for fear of bankrupting themselves. The companies got straight to work, Lockheed-Martin began the F-35 program and the Boeing launched the X-32.
- Crew: 1
- Length: 45.01 ft (13.72 m)
- Wingspan: 36 ft (10.97 m)
- Height: (5.28 m)
- Wing area: 590 ft² (54.8 m²)
- Max. takeoff weight: 38,000 lb (17,200 kg)
- Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney F119 derivative afterburning turbofan
- Dry thrust: 28,000 lbf (125 kN)
- Thrust with afterburner: 43,000 lbf (191 kN)
- Maximum speed: Mach 1.6 (1,200 mph, 1,931 km/h) at altitude
- Range on USAF mission profile: 850 nmi (1,574 km)
- Range on USN mission profile: 750 nmi (1,389 km)
- Range on USMC/RN mission profile: 600 nmi (1,112 km)
- 20 mm M61A2 cannon, or 27 mm Mauser BK-27 cannon
- Internal: 6 AMRAAM air-air missiles or 2 AMRAAM air-air missiles and 2 x 2,000 lb (900 kg) class guided bombs
- External: Approx. 15,000 lb (6,800 kg) of full range of external stores including guided weapons, anti-radiation missile, air-to-surface weapons, auxiliary fuel tanks
The X-32 went into trial runs in 1999 at Edwards Air Force Base but unfortunately tests were cut short due to issues with the fuel lines. Ultimately the Joint Strike Fighter Program would award its contract to Lockheed-Martin and the F-35. The slack-jawed Boeing X-32 now sits in an air force museum, but you can see the video of when it took to the skies in an attempt to be America’s next big fighter.