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Mon, Feb 03, 2003

JSF Saga on NOVA

"Battle of the X-Planes" Airs Tuesday Night

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 stake.

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 superiority fighters.

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.

FMI: www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova

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