A Goofy-Looking Plane Could Have Replaced the F-35 Stealth Fighter
War Is Boring
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The real pity was going with the Boeing proposal instead of the McDonnell-Douglas entry when they down-selected for the demonstrator phase. At the time of the JSF competition, Boeing hadn’t produced a tactical aircraft in decades, and hadn’t produced a fighter since the P-26. McAir had produced the F-4, F-15, F-18, and AV-8B. Nobody had more experience in tactical aircraft — definitely not Lockheed-Martin, although GD’s Fort Worth operation could’ve brought something to the game. What differentiated Boeing was a simpler wing design (didn’t need to fold for carrier operations) and a direct lift VSTOL system like the Harrier (simpler in theory.) McAir’s design was more like the F-35, except influenced by the YF-23 rather than F-22.

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