Boeing X-32 Specifications And Review – Boeing’s X-32 was a prototype aircraft developed for the U.S. Army’s Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. Boeing’s proposal was in conflict with Lockheed’s X-35. Lockheed won a lucrative defense contract after making the X-32 part of military aircraft history.
Boeing X-32 Specifications And Review
|Type||Boeing X-32 Joint Stike Fighter|
|Unit Cost||$ 70 million|
|Year of Development||2000|
|Engine||Two Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan engines (with afterburners) with a maximum thrust of 43,000 lbs.|
|Top Speed||1243 mph (2000 km/h)|
MilitaryEzyInfo.com – Lockheed’s X-35 continues to evolve into the U.S. Air Force’s VTOL-capable multi-role F-35 Lightning II (vertical takeoff and landing aircraft) The F-35 is scheduled to enter service after 2016.
The Joint Strike Fighter program was created in 1994 to streamline the requirements of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).
The goal of the program was to develop a multi-role aircraft capable of carrying advanced weapons at additional cost and capable of normal vertical takeoff and landing over short distances. Such an aircraft could replace many of the current, albeit older, models in use by the U.S. military.
Initial proposals were submitted by Boeing and Lockheed Martin, and the design concept was selected in 1996. The program was funded by the government to control long-term program costs, and each company would build a pair of prototypes for evaluation. The company that eventually wins the JSF would have hundreds or thousands of prototypes in the U.S. and possibly for sale overseas.
Boeing’s proposal is called the “X-32.” Basically, it is designed to blend into a smooth contour with sharp angles, making full use of the concepts of stealth flight and radar avoidance.
The cockpit is mounted at the front of the fuselage, behind the short nose. The triangular main wings are set so high that no conventional tail fins are used, instead, a pair of outwardly sloping vertical tail fins are used on the main wings.
Power is provided by a Pratt & Whitney F119 series turbofan, burning 28,000 lbs (43,000 lbs thrust), which is drawn through an intake in the chin. This intake system gives the X-32’s fuselage a very deep appearance and a unique shape.
The engine was vented from the rear through a specially designed port to minimize its impact on the radar. The landing gear was a conventional tricycle, with a pair of single-wheeled main supports under both wings and single-wheeled nose support under the air intake assembly.
The cockpit is elevated and the canopy is lightweight, allowing the pilot to observe the activities taking place around the aircraft. The canopy slides backward to open. The program was already in full swing, but changes in the U.S. Navy’s requirements prompted Boeing’s team to rethink the assembly of the prototype’s wings.
The U.S. Navy wanted Boeing engineers to design an improved fighter with greater maneuverability and broader weapons capability, and the X-32 was produced with a more conventional rear wing and horizontal tail instead of a rear-mounted version.
This design change was one of the most burdensome developments in the X-32 program. Another problem was that two separate prototypes were built for takeoff and landing evaluation of the conventional and VTOL models. Lockheed, on the other hand, was able to develop a prototype that would operate both, thus increasing their chances of victory.
The first flight of the Boeing X-32 prototype took place on September 18, 2000, with successful normal takeoff and landing; VTOL testing continued on March 29, 2001, with the second aircraft entering service.
Powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, the X-32 has a maximum speed of Mach 1.6 and a range of 1,574 km in its conventional takeoff and landing configuration, and a range of 1,112 km in the VTOL configuration, which is designed to be used mainly on the deck of aircraft carriers. Flight tests are scheduled to be completed in July 2001.
The proposed armament includes a 20mm M61A2 series internal gun. All major weapons are protected in internal weapons compartments on both sides of the fuselage.
It can be equipped with the latest air-to-air missile packages and guided bombs. The X-32 can also be modified to carry optional external armament (such as external fuel tank tubes for extended range).
The proposed international production version of the X-32 would incorporate the Mauser BK-27 series cannon and be equipped with an equivalent guided missile/bomber.
After evaluating both systems, the X-32, designed by Lockheed, was selected. The biggest deciding factor was the use of Lockheed’s “silo” type lift fan, rather than Boeing’s vector thrust “direct lift” system.
The Lockheed design proposal was more costly and unproven, but it outperformed Boeing’s “safer” design proposal. The X-32A and X-32B prototypes made 66 and 78 flights, respectively.