It's the largest military contract ever, and Boeing and Lockheed
Martin both wanted it. The spec called for a "winner-take-all"
scenario; and as many as 4,000 fighter planes, to serve in the
worlds' air forces until the middle of the century, were at
The project was daunting: the aircraft had to be stealthy, able
to serve all the air services, adaptable to foreign militaries; it
had to be supersonic; and it had to be able to land vertically. Oh
-- and it was to be the performance equivalent of today's air
The approaches taken by the two defense giants were divergent.
Boeing went with a vectored-thrust approach; Lockheed Martin
supplemented that with a giant lifting fan.
The whole story (or at least a good part of it) is to be
presented Tuesday night on NOVA.