Building the F-35 Full Documentary
We’re here today to announce the largest acquisition program in the history of the Department of Defense the Joint Strike Joint Strike Fighter Strike Fighter in the skies over the Mojave Desert a battle of explains has begun over the next year two different planes will take to the skies again and again on a relentless quest to be crowned the fighter of the future perhaps the last man fighter the US will ever build we’re gonna find it out of this airplane and just kick every day that’s what it’s all about it’s all part of a top secret competition locking two of America’s aerospace Giants in a furious engineering dog fight to the death you couldn’t have a more interesting competition two very different companies in two very different designs conservative heavyweight is the radical newcomer we get a hell of a smart team so let’s go figure out how to make it work there’s never really any time to relax but I’d like to be further ahead yes you’re like me farther done yes I think we truly believe that we’ve got the right vehicle for the customer it’s starting to look like an airplane that’s what’s really neat about well I see a future contract well that – not just any contract but the most lucrative contract in military history at least 200 billion dollars and the winner won’t be just any fighter it will need to land on a carrier evade enemy radar hover like a helicopter but trying to build a fighter that can do all three it’s a tremendous challenge it’s not a natural thing for a jet airplane to do experimental new designs come with their share of risks and failures but now the US military desperately wants a winner claiming that aging fighters and shrinking budgets threatened to undermine its command of the skies will a one-size-fits-all fighter a Joint Strike Fighter worked for the Air Force the Navy the Marines will it rescue them from the death spiral of defense costs with unprecedented access from the Department of Defense Nova’s cameras take you into the US military’s most classified facilities from the beginning the repeated trial and error how much effort is ahead of us to make it work what two teams struggle to get their daring ideas off the drawing board and into the air the Joint Strike Fighter will be the world’s premier strike platform with a decision to proceed now made it is now appropriate to announce the winner of the Joint Strike Fighter competition in the end only one winner takes all in the battle of the explains up next on Nova major funding for Nova is provided by the park foundation dedicated to education and quality television science it’s given us the framework to help make wireless communications clear Sprint is proud to support Nova and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you thank you inside this vat is the future of American fighter power they will probably never ever be another program as complex as this or as big as us we start talking about dollars it’s called the Joint Strike Fighter program for five years the JSF has held a competition between two titans of aerospace to see who will build the next generation fighter it’s a prize worth up to 200 billion dollars the winners name is in the back the winner of the JSF competition is going to dominate the fighter aircraft market not only here in the United States but worldwide fasten your seat belt and put up your tray table Nova and the Department of Defense and cleared you to enter places where cameras have never gone before from secret installations to the cockpits of the latest experimental fighters you’ve landed in the classified world of the explains both high-tech and handcrafted where pilots fly into the unknown with just you by their side this is the battle to build the fire of the 21st century in the first strike in the war on terror fighters are the frontline warriors Navy fighters join squadrons from the Air Force and the Marines to attack Taliban and al-qaida positions in Afghanistan these aircrafts play a key role in routing the enemy just as they did in the Gulf War in the early 1990s in fact some of the fighters are literally the same plans built in the eighties designed in the 70s to fulfill Cold War objectives from the 60s the most important weapon in America’s arsenal is based on ideas almost a half century old airplanes they’re wearing out we’re tired dirty airplane it’s still a great airplane service purpose as well but it’s it’s old these aircraft in the future battlefield they’re going to be litte bit like dinosaurs not just in their sort of physical age but their electronic capability they may not be survivable we now have to go to higher altitude instead of lower altitude we need to make ourselves as small as possible from a radar perspective we have to do the same job but the world has changed almost all of America’s fighters will one day wind up here at the boneyard of davis-monthan Air Force Base in Arizona old generals may fade away our old fighters are cannibalized for parts beer force still relies on thousands of these the venerable f-16 but the f-16 is past its prime in the age of stealth this fighter shows up on radar the size of a small flying house this is an f-18 the mainstay of the Navy but Navy plans get old fast the controlled crash known as a carrier landing the rapid acceleration of a catapult launch will eventually create irreparable stress fractures and send them all here this is the subsonic a v8 harrier jump jet flown by the Marines while it remains the only successful vertical landing fighter it dates back to the British Invasion of America by the Beatles though later refined by McDonnell Douglas by any measure the Harrier is ready for retirement the goal of the Joint Strike Fighter program is to replace all of these the f16 the f-18 and even the vertically landing carrier is absolute vital necessity to have and not only a replacement airplane for the older airplanes to have an airplane that’s 21st century airplane to meet the needs from the plane for the 21st century at least for the Air Force would appear to be already here the new f-22 Raptor scheduled for deployment in 2005 the rapper is the ultimate fighter so stealthy its radar signature isn’t much bigger than a bird and it can fly at supersonic speeds longer than any other fighter and that means it instruct deeply and invisibly an opponent but the Raptor has a huge vulnerability that the JSF program must overcome a giant price tag each plane costs about 100 million dollars the f-22 is spectacular the problem is is expensive and that means the Air Force will never really have enough of them to attack the many and varied small and large targets that make up the modern battlefield the f-22 is just the latest example of a trend that goes back decades each new generation of fighters cost more than the last so fewer are purchased ever more expensive fighters in ever decreasing numbers in defense circles that’s known as the death spiral where the death spiral could lead is the prediction that in the year 2050 for the US defense budget will only buy one airplane so the Air Force uses the airplane in the morning the Navy uses it in the evening and the Marines unfortunately only get to use it every leap year on the extra day so that is the jsf submission impossible to break the death spiral by coming up with a new fighter that costs a third of an f-22 replaces all of these and it meets the needs of the Air Force the Navy and the Marines they absolutely say you’ll never pull this off him possible in the past the fiercely independent services would have fought for their own weapons programs in the 60s when the cost-cutting Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara force the Navy and Air Force to use the same plane the f-111 the joint program was a resounding flop but these days with smaller post-cold-war budgets the spreadsheet is mightier than the sword Joint Strike Fighter program was a huge leap of faith for the services the enabler though was they didn’t have any choice they knew that they had to modernize their fighter force structure and the funds were not available to do that with no other options the effort to design the Joint Strike Fighter begins and almost immediately there’s a disagreement the services can’t even agree on the number of engines the navy’s f-18 Hornet has two engines for safety one goes out you don’t have to ditch but two engines are a deal-killer for the Marines because of their weight you cannot build today a two engine vertical short takeoff landing airplane so the Navy wanted two engines Marine Corps had to have a single engine and the Air Force wanted a single engine because it was much more affordable and they don’t have that they’re not out over the ocean at night all by themselves like we are the decision hinges on how dependable one engine can be after talking with jet manufacturers the JSF team ramps up the specs for engine reliability rear admiral steidel convinces a reluctant Navy to go with just one there was another piece that was necessary to pull the program together without that we could not have a common production line I think the effort that’s build on here to create a joy requirement is astounding and it’s really the it’s what’s allowed the program to get where it is and it will be what allows the program to continue because if the surface is keep saying we all will agree what we want and we want this aircraft then it will happen even with everyone on board there’s rough air ahead we know how to build a stealth fighter we know how to build a long-range agile fighter we may even have a good way of building a fighter that can land and take off vertically but trying to build a fighter that can do all three is very very difficult the Pentagon spent over three billion dollars in research to see if it was possible and the answer sort of the airplanes are not the same aircraft but the building blocks are the same building blocks for the most part same engine same major avionics in fact it’s not important to have every piece part the same but the expensive parts or modules through the lifecycle of the aircraft there was the potential to save sixty billion dollars and that’s a lot of money in anybody’s calculus even in the Department of Defense with the services in agreement about the requirements the Joint Strike Fighter program launches a competition for innovative designs for the new affordable family of fighters like a high-stakes game show only two contractors can make it to the final round and build test planes with billions on the line u.s.
Defense contractors hold their breath as the Pentagon announces the two finalists for who wants to build the next generation fighter these contractors are Lockheed Martin and Boeing the announcement sends shock waves through the aerospace industry dealing a death blow to one of the most respected names in aviation McDonnell Douglas a company with a fighter legacy that seemed to guarantee a spot in the final round doesn’t make the cut the impact for the company and its employees is devastating within two years McDonnell Douglas is sold to Boeing one of the JSF winners a world leader in commercial jets the seattle-based company is seen as an unlikely contender in a fighter battle for good reason Boeing’s last fighter was built in the 1930s the p26 peashooter a fighter from the age before jets before even a closed cockpit Boeing hadn’t built a fighter in a long time and I think early on Boeing was considered literally a dark horse in this competition but the Boeing acquisition of McDonnell Douglas the Builder of the navy’s f-18 and the marines harrier makes a dark force and even bet by acquiring mcdonnell-douglas boeing suddenly moves from becoming the least experienced JSF team to possibly the most experienced clearly level the playing field I’m in this job to win and going back to Boeing’s JSF effort is led by Frank status an engineer and 30-year company man when you shoulder the weight of a potential 200 billion dollar contract stress comes with the job a year ago ahead here and it was dark and now I have less of it and it’s a race to see what goes great versus goes away what’s our g2 on the other guy whilst at kiss runs the project he isn’t the creator of Boeing’s design these days with the complexity of fighters no single person can claim that role state-of-the-art fighters they’re all designed now by computers and it’s and it’s these are big teams of engineers who sit down you know and in do these the cat can drawings it’s very tough to find you know one person who can sit there and tell you that I design that airplane at the heart of the Boeing design for the JSF is a large Delta or triangular wing it’s an unusual approach but the big advantages of that are that is structurally simple and that it contains the enormous amount of fuel though there hasn’t been an American fighter built with a delta wing since the 60s the design has its advantages the fastest jet ever to fly the sr-71 blackbird has a delta wing because it decreases drag at supersonic speeds the Space Shuttle is also built around one because it provides great lift but neither the shuttle nor the sr-71 are exactly agile a delta design pays a price and speed when executing turns and the control surface is near the tail don’t have the leverage to turn the plane sharply European designers have overcome these handicaps in their new fighter the typhoon by adding canards near the front of the plane but in the u.s.
Delta fighters have been out of favor for decades until the jsf picked the Boeing design as a finalist why the new interest Delta’s can be cheap to build Boeing took a step back and said what makes airplanes expensive how can we leave it out and they got a very very simple design Boeing’s expertise and Wings has has kind of taken a different tack our engineers have chosen to build this wing as one piece from tip to tip we have always studied the idea of building a one-piece wing and attaching the fuselage to the wing and so this time we had an opportunity to really try it boeing has taken to heart the jsf concept meeting the needs of the Air Force Navy and Marines through versatile common design and it even accommodates the biggest jsf challenge landing like a Harrier while it gets a bad rap for safety the harrier is no doubt the most adaptable fighter ever built matching its capabilities will drive many of the design decisions of the competition when fully loaded with fuel and bombs a Harrier takes off in as little as five hundred feet third of that needed by most fighters that short takeoff distance makes many roads into potential runways after an attack it returns a lighter fighter ready to execute its trademark Buck Rogers move a Harrier hovers using rotating nozzles that direct engine exhaust downward this mode of flying called direct lift demands an enormous amount of power and it’s dangerous before computer-controlled balancing a Harrier on its own engine thrust was like trying to sit on the geysers even today it’s accident rate is four times that of a Navy Hornet but through their flexibility Harriers have proven their value in fact in the Gulf War Perrier’s flew more missions than any other kind of fighter for the British the Harrier remains essential British aircraft carriers are smaller than their American counterparts the Harriers short takeoff ability overcomes the problem and creates a portable fighter force the Harrier is allowed the UK basically to be where it couldn’t be the focus of the classic is arming without happier we could not have defended the Falcons we couldn’t have got anybody any aircraft down there but the ability to put a reasonably competent combat aircraft onto a deck and get it down there and then fight was just the difference between success and failure but the Harrier can’t fly supersonic a serious limitation in a modern fighter in terms of its turn performance is ranging endurance its maximum speed whichever metric you want to look at it fares unfavorably with any modern airplane we also have brothers in arms with the US Navy so from the British search for a replacement Harrier brings them to the jsf table I think they become full partners it’s the first time a foreign government has been included in an American fighter development program the addition of the British only heightens what many consider the central technical challenge of the JSF competition landing the fighter vertically alternatives to the Harriers direct lift system have been studied by both contractors but Boeing has come to a surprising conclusion over the years all contractors have looked at all of these various lift methods and the least impact the design always and has been direct lift the Boeing lift system is basically a modern version of the harem taking the engine thrust and putting it through a pair of nozzles that directed downwards the advantage the Boeing has is that you basically strap on the lift module around the engine so the changes are pretty minimal the fewer the changes between the marine fighter and the other versions the better the bottom line Boeing has made an ally of affordability so I believe when we’re all finished in flight test we’ll have proven that direct lift offers the absolute greatest affordability because of the greatest commonality while direct lift is affordable other parts of the plane must pay a price for balance during hover the engine must be in the middle that leads to a gaping Inlet to feed it air the some boeing has designed a plane only its mother could love it’s a strange-looking airplane it’s short it’s squat the engines in the front not the back it has this huge air inlet in front that reminds me of a hippopotamus this is a fighter competition not a beauty pageant but there is an adage in aerospace that if it looks right it flies right an appearance may be a deciding factor appearance aside Boeing’s proposal is a cunning entry for the jsf competition throwing over fighter tradition the company delivers a radical but simple design that promises to be cheap to build bullies ready to give its aerospace opponent a flight to the finish when I daydream I see it hovering I see it taking off from airfields I see it operating around the ship and sometimes they even see it shooting down the Lockheed airplane only in your dreams in the likely response of lockheed-martin America’s largest defense contractor for decades in this secret facility in California the legendary skunk works Lockheed is designed and built aircraft that have blown through the boundaries of imagination the Lockheed skunkworks reputation is founded on stability to put together a small team of very motivated people get everybody else out of the way and leave them to solve a problem that everybody else thinks can’t be solved the whole history of this place has been there is nothing that we can’t do there is no project that we can accomplish as a huge amount of pride of we can do anything by the time Lockheed earns its place in the final JSF competition chief engineer Rick Reza Beck and his team have already spent five years designing their fighter now they must build a pair of test planes in just two if Lockheed wins their work will live on for decades if it loses the stakes are horrendous on this this program will end up running from today out through the year 2050 long after my retirement the performance of this team and the decision-making that goes on during these next two years are very key the mystique of the skunk works remains unrivaled in aviation it’s the birthplace of America’s first operational jet fighter the p80 in the 50s and 60s this covert design house created the ultimate spy planes for the CIA a high-flying u2 and a high-velocity sr-71 blackbird later for the air force had built the f-117 nighthawk the first stealth fighter unveiled to the public during the Gulf War the Nighthawk was the only u.s.
Aircraft to strike targets in downtown Baghdad the image of anti-aircraft guns aimlessly blazing away at invisible attackers is a surreal salute with success and that of the skunkworks they’ve conducted many of their most advanced programs in complete secrecy such that nobody else in the world even had a clue what they were up to it’s gonna be very very scary going up against those guys the f-117 sacrifices speed and handling for stealth it’s been superseded by the current gold standard of American fighters the f-22 Raptor by Lockheed while very expensive not the olden one fighter for the JSF the Raptor provides a wealth of proven design ideas including a radical new shape for stealth it’s no surprise the Lockheed design for the JSF inherits the Raptors contours built around one common airframe Lockheed’s proposed fighter is modified for each service most visibly the navy model has a larger wing and tail for carrier landings the exterior design of Lockheed’s fighter holds few surprises on the surface it looks like the company doesn’t want to gamble it’s on the inside for the Marines vertical landing requirement that Lockheed’s bet the farm the company’s gone with a daring new propulsion system known as a lift fan the lift fan has been a engineering challenge because there has not been a lift and built before in the lift fan design the engine sits in the usual fighter position in the tail a drive shaft connects it to a large fan placed behind the pilot to hover engine exhaust is directed downward but the fan is also engaged taking an air from above the plane and blowing it out below that creates to balance sources of thrust potentially a more powerful and stable arrangement than the Boeing solution but to accomplish this feat the drive shaft must be spun at an incredible rate think of taking the propulsion system in a Navy destroyer shrinking that down into a smaller package putting it into a jet fighter airplane it’s a technological challenge in the tradition of the skunkworks if successful the lift fan will be revolutionary but on the drawing boards it doesn’t blow away its critics it’s a very clever solution but it’s got gears and bearings and a lot of moving parts and in an operational airplane you’ve got to make sure they work a hundred percent of the time if you’re a pilot hovering at 50 feet on one of those parts fails it’s gonna spoil your day despite its complexity the lift fan offers another benefit invisible to the jsf sensors and test equipment but plain to the naked eye aesthetics you can look at the Lockheed Martin airplane and say that looks like what I would expect a modern high performance high capable jet fighter to look like you look at the Boeing airplane and the general reaction is I don’t get it Lockheed will build its test planes the same way it’s built it’s successful prototypes of the past is handcrafted machines here in this compass this facility provides a well-worn path for winning the jsf competition lockheed will try to triumph in daring new technology just like legos while boeing tries to win with a bold cost-saving design combined with manufacturing know-how second to none you couldn’t have a more interesting competition two very different companies two very different designs conservative heavyweight against the radical newcomer if Lockheed wins it continues its decades of fighter manufacture if boeing wins it could go on to dominate the fighter market like it dominates the airliner market I think we’ll look back at this time at this competition between Boeing and Lockheed and I think you’ll be remembered as the great vital war the next battle of the fighter war will feature close combat less than a mile away from the skunkworks is Boeing’s top-secret complex the phantom works and these two classified installations the JSF competition is ready for takeoff the schedule will be fierce by aerospace standards in 24 months and on a budget of a billion dollars each company must build and fly not one but two experimental planes adding to the tension boeing and lockheed will remain in the dark about each other’s progress nova is among the select few cleared to enter both facilities this footage locked away each night by security personnel boeing may not have built a fighter since the 1930s but from day one the company rolls out innovations to simplify the job this scaffolding holds the parts as they arrive the team uses lasers to position each component precisely in three-dimensional space without having to wait for surrounding pieces the parts themselves are designed so precisely that they fit together like puzzle pieces with hardly any adjustment techniques like this lead bowing to claim it can reduce assembly costs by as much as 75 percent it’s a very interesting process for a new Boeing’s ability to demonstrate how the airplane is put together is certainly a plus and that will weigh in their favor the frame for the single massive delta wing the heart of the Boeing design is already in the works but the skin that we’ll cover is being cooked up over a thousand miles away at Boeing’s headquarters in Seattle engineer george bible has spent the last year experimenting with a revolutionary material for the surface of the wings it’s a resin and carbon fiber mix called thermoplastic in small quantities it’s been used on fighters before but no one has ever tried to create anything as large as a 30-foot wing skin it’s very challenging we have no time or schedule to design something else so we we have to make it work first shot thermoplastic wings will be lighter and more durable than conventional wings there may even be other undiscovered benefits according to another engineer who first experimented with material in the 80s frank status i personally would love to have thermoplastics on this airplane because I know that there’s value in the future even though I can’t tell you in all the areas where we might find that value I do know it’s there the future in a word thermoplastics but right now george bible needs to solve some pressing problems making thermoplastic begins with these sheets of graphite also known as carbon fiber the same lightweight material used in fishing rods and tennis rackets for the wing it’s laid down up to 90 layers deep on top of a giant metal mold or tool we take layers of these graphite fibers and set them on top of each other and then we put the resin in between to hold them together after three weeks of lay up the wings skin is tightly wrapped in protective bags ready for the next step a massive oven called the autoclave the use chamber acts like a pressure cooker the dollar flame for me is always the most stressful part he have nightmares at night thinking about all the terrible things your autoclave could do to it first all oxygen will be removed to prevent a cataclysmic explosion Ben with the wing heated to the melting point of leg nitrogen will be pumped in raising the pressure and exerting tons of force upon the thermoplastic forcing the fibers to blend with the resident in short this is literally hell on earth for the next 30 hours George Bible will hold his breath until the cooked skin is removed from the autoclave and a perfectly formed wing skin is revealed looks good looks very good but this skin is only the first Boeing will need three more one for each side of its two delta-winged explains and although Bible is elated at his success he knows that the next skin for the lower wing will be far trickier it involves a more complex curved shape and in fact when the next skin emerges from the autoclave the first signs are ominous creases and folds on a surface hint at hidden structural flaws and that does not look good those wrinkles and trade were dead in water an instrument scans the surface of the panel using water and sound waves to probe for air pockets that could fatally weakened the wing when we have a gap in the plies the sound will not transmit through there well George Bibles worst fears are confirmed the skin is riddled with defects right now I’m just just exhausted just we can’t get a break it’s just downhill so we’ll have to do what we have to do to get a panel down a palmdale as fast as we can after hundreds of hours of work the wing skin is worthless with the first wing frame nearing completion down in palmdale bibles team and its bold experiment are simply running out of time Lockheed is facing a crisis of its own the problem that has brought its entire assembly program to a grinding halt hinges on the holdup of a single crucial part we can have 99% of everything it takes to assemble the airplane but if there’s one part that hasn’t been delivered yet and it’s buried somewhere in the middle of the aircraft you have to wait on the assembly work until that actually shows up like boeing lockheed engineers have tried to save money by reducing the number of parts needed to build the plane one part in particular bulkhead 270 has ended up especially complicated it will join the front of the plane including the cockpit to the fuselage as a key piece holding the plane together it’s made of the metal alloy titanium the combination of strength and lightness make it a natural choice for the bulkhead but nobody at the skunkworks had anticipated how hard it would be to carve such a complicated piece out of this super hard metal machining the 300 pound Lockheed Park means whittling away at a solid five tons slab the drills running 24 hours a day using diamond bit saws and a special lubricant to reduce heat the pressure to get the bulkhead done is enormous but so is the price of any mistake if this part fails it could almost ultimately be the end of our competition with Boeing in the jsf program I mean it was really set as bad on top of the crisis on the shop floor bad money management threatens to get Lockheed fired from the competition in a program in large part about affordability the company admits it’s 100 million dollars over budget Lockheed blames part of the overrun on a 30 million dollar accounting error in essence what it was is we were writing checks without going back into the check register that’s what an amount of to Lockheed yes had a problem in the subcontract management business and their manufacturing in at Palmdale it wasn’t discovered till late very unfortunate very disappointing and the lesson there is take nothing for granted it’s a make-or-break point in the program under a powerful escape clause the government can end the competition and award the fighter contract to Boeing in the first real test of the military’s commitment to fiscal limits the JSF lets lockheed off the hook they’re saved by the growing number of international customers now lining up to buy the Joint Strike Fighter get Canadians got Italians we got Danes we got Dutch me a little bit of everybody it ensures that for tomorrow on coalition warfare we got partners the same capability to fight the same wars as we do ending the competition early would be a domestic and diplomatic debacle the government realizes that this program is so big and so influential on a national and and in fact international level that their best bet is effectively to sweep this anomaly under the carpet let’s forget about it and let’s move on and let’s work under the assumption that Lockheed has learned a lesson and they won’t let this happen again all as disappointed as that was the Silverline nurse we’re doing business a lot lot better and will continue for the future in the end Lockheed gets slapped on the wrist for bad budget controls presses on with the program nearly a year and a half behind schedule we can’t let one minute go by without paying attention to something out on the floor and getting it done we can’t we can’t be slackers anymore but back at Boeing it’s hardly been smooth sailing the latest results from computer simulations are pointing to an alarming conclusion Boeing’s entire DeltaWing design may be fundamentally flawed the Navy has refined its requirements and wants a more maneuverable plane that can carry more weapons Boeing’s DeltaWing design is now seriously overweight months into building the test planes Boeing’s lead engineers conclude that the only way to lose the pounds is to abandon the Delta and come up with a new wing and tail design we are at a point in the process here where we need to make a decision on the tail I think we’re really struggling with which way to go an engineering team led by Dennis Muhlenberg must come up with a new tail design that will work on a reconfigured fighter the conventional choice is called a four-poster for its four control surfaces the tail design for all modern u.s.
Fighters including Lockheed’s raptor and its proposed JSF fighter but there is an experimental alternative a novel to post tail with just two angled control surfaces the Pelican tail is named after its inventor an engineer inherited from McDonnell Douglas Ralph Pelican he argues its merits sure I understand you’re all nervous about this new concept I think it can be done proponents of the Pelican tale argue that the design is less visible to enemy radar in other words it has a smaller stealth signature for Boeing this is an important plus since Lockheed is the originator and acknowledged master of stealth technology we can’t afford to have any question at all over our signature or whether whether it mean a signature I don’t think that we really know enough about the pelican tale you know we think we can make it work but how much effort is ahead of us to make it work those supporting the traditional four-post tale argue it’s a known quantity the word on the street is that the jsf program managers favored it for the same reason there is a slight benefit from a strategy standpoint that we can negate a perceived Lockheed advantage by going to a four-poster on the other hand we end up looking like the follower in with two teams that have the same design I vote for the Pelican tail I think we’ve got to bite the bullet and then go there and I just maybe I’m stolen more conservative than Fred and I would stick with the four-poster and try and get the signature to work with the airplane or poster but your probability of getting the room is deeply divided I’m talking about if you have a failure in the end Muhlenberg must break the tie now I’ve been a four-poster fan up until about an hour ago I think we can beat the pants off Lockheed when it comes to work and weight handling qualities and aerodynamics whether it’s real or not they’re perceived to have a signature advantage so we need to do something to our configuration that will give us a signature advantage I think the Pelican tail does say all right feeling pressure to make a bold choice it’s Muhlenberg chooses the Pelican mistake on some things so let’s go figure out how to make it work but just days later after Frank’s dot kiss and senior management review the choices boeing changes its mind concerned about weight and performance it commits to the more conservative four-post tail is signature versus weight the four-poster is a little safer way to go so I was a little torn from a personal standpoint but when we stood back and looked at the data I think we made the right decision bowing radically changes the wing and tail design which gives the proposed fighter a fresh new look the new plane is projected to be 1500 pounds lighter and more agile but it’s too late to incorporate the design changes into Boeing’s to test planes now eight months into assembly instead the company will submit the new configuration with its final proposal by testing the new design and simulations and wind tunnels and flight testing the old design Boeing believes it can prove the soundness of its approach to those of us watching JSF from the outside this is the first sign that all is not well with Boeing design both designs are evolving as the requirements evolve but it seems that Boeing’s design is not as adaptable as Lockheed’s the requirements are still evolving so there must be concerned with in the government that Boeing’s design can keep up there was a lot to be made of the fact that their design was all screwed up and they couldn’t find they couldn’t do this and they were behind so forth not the case at all to me it was just an improvement in their design according to the requirements it was very normal very very normal whatever the future holds for the redesign at least one of Boeing’s nightmares is finally over Georg Bibles team has finished the Troublesome wing skins he’s ready to rush them from Seattle to California the last pair of panels is loaded onto a c5 galaxy the largest cargo jet in the airforce while out the windows in tipper weighing over Bibles scrapped the temperamental thermoplastic and cooked up the wing skins from a more conventional composite though heavier and less durable the new wing coverings are finally on their way to Palmdale still more or less on-time and on-budget and that’s just what happens when you’re reaching in technology sometimes you’re successful and sometimes you’re not emotionally it’ll be old for me when I see that airplane disappear over the rise and heading south with the wing skins safely in palmdale Boeing wastes little time attaching them to the wing box whoa all it but before the upper skin can be mated to the structure critical wiring must be installed let’s go terminate a loan electrician crawls in between the skin and wing box to connect wiring working in the dark under the 700-pound wing skin is a ruling job I’m gonna need a heat gun hour after hour doing good it wire after wire each connection is tested and double-checked how you doing Lonnie almost done y’all look good yeah I mean connect you have to do – he’s been in there for four and half hours that’s not come on yet it’s dedication now here it comes zebras legs go you ready to clear jack with the wiring done and the skin lowered into place mechanics will spend the night hand tightening thousands of fasteners before the wing can be mated to the aircraft another major piece must first be attached to the fuselage like a giant gift the entire front end of the airplane arrives in the fantomworks hangar believe my eyes o waited for all this time finally got it I can’t wait to get up the front end which includes the cockpit with all its intricate electronics was built in st.
Louis at a former McDonnell Douglas plant now part of Boeing we’re back another three inches but will this front end built 1,800 miles away made up with the rest of the fuselage the fit must be as precise as the width of a human hair down a little further will people get the questions a little bit better yeah pulls up together bring it back just a little bit more bring it back about a half inch and we’re there good that’s good in less than two hours the installation is complete the boeing x-plane has its distinct face I starting to look like an airplane that’s what’s really neat about it no I see a future contract well that too with the addition of the one-piece wing an apparition appears at the Phantom works the recognizable outline of the first of the Boeing explains the company is now weeks ahead of schedule and morale couldn’t be higher went great looks like an airplane now look at it Lockheed watch out what Lockheed is watching out for is an end to its crippling parts delay guys right mechanics finally installed bulkhead 270 which took five long months to carve out of titanium viewer nervously ways to see if it will fit if it does a plane will quickly take shape around it doesn’t it’s game over for locky designed on the latest computers cut with diamond tip bits only to be installed with a sandbag as a beautiful piece of job in the race to complete its explains Lockheed still trails Boeing by months but the manufacturing team plans to fly full throttle to the finish basically this place is you know populated by a bunch of airplane nuts so it’s a very high pace and that pace is not gonna slacken up at all it’s gonna continue to underscore its commanding lead over Lockheed Boeing stages of public relations coup with the fantomworks in a surprise move Boeing has assembled both of its test planes for the media event ladies and gentlemen the x32 a and the x32 B concept demonstrator aircraft what do you think in an aerospace tradition called roll out the company shows off its brainchild in two different versions to the world it’s a moment of high emotion for Boeing program manager Frank status is everything that we’ve done for the last three and a half years it’s all your successes it’s all your thoughts tell your weekend where it’s all your over time it’s a soul it’s in that airplane because each and every one of us sweated bullets put it there rollout is a milestone for the Boeing team but as things stand now Frank status with wings would get in the air faster than the explains they may have soul they don’t yet have brains hundreds of thousands of lines of vital software code is still under development to manage every function of the explains that work gets tested here in a multi-million dollar simulator the jaws on the web gently Boeing’s lead test pilot Fred Knox puts the foe fighter through its paces across what how about we look at 20 knots across modern fighters are designed to be aerodynamically unstable right 11 under computer control at aerial volatility transforms into acrobatic agility 10 10 right to that every simulated flight by knocks helps refine this is central software flight control software controls the airplane the way it flies but it also turns on the air conditioner it raises and lowers the landing gear it navigates for us it does every critical element and every critical safety element in the airplane we haven’t done the development here the airplane will not fly yeah but less than two months after rollout the software development suddenly goes offline Boeing is crippled by the largest white-collar strike in American history 17,000 aerospace engineers are off the job including more than a hundred developing the explains flight controls progress inside the Boeing fantomworks grinds to nearly a halt while outside a small group of engineers joins the strike it’s a bad situation for everybody you know everybody really has real mixed emotions I think and is real conflicted about it forty days later the strike ends the Boeing doesn’t escape unscathed distract and our programs is a terrible woman we lost weeks of schedule those weeks will not be recovered with the setbacks Boeing’s lead over Lockheed evaporates after years of jousting back and forth these two combatants are galloping toward the tournament grounds toward the arena where explains and test pilots meet their fate it’s time for this battle to take to the air just 30 miles away from the skunk and fantomworks lies the proving grounds for all of America’s explains Edwards Air Force Base Edwards Air Force Base is a tremendous facility and one of the hallmarks of that facility is the lakebed it’s about 12 miles wide it’s 20 miles long and it’s a very hard flat surface and you can put the airplane down and you don’t have to worry about running out of runway because you’ve got the whole Lake but in front of you with these wide-open spaces Edwards and experimental planes go back to the first supersonic flights here the original explain the x1 flown by Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier over half a century ago since then aviation triumphs and tragedies have made Edwards the hallowed ground of the x-plane history now these skies will hold an epic contest never seen before a battle between explains historically we have 47 explained programs this is the first time in history ever that any two of those X airplanes have competed against each other for a production contract son precedent it’s time for Boeing’s dream to take flight maliki can only watch from the ground after years of derision as a second-rate contender Boeing proves even an underdog like its x32 you have its day Airmen Laura this is Freddie Knox from the Boeing Company we’re getting ready to launch at X 32 on his first flight this morning and I wonder if I could get a little forecast for the winds say from about the 730 Fred Knox Boeing’s chief test pilots and a key developer of the X plane take the craft on its maiden flight I appreciate up this morning but I excellent day to go with the fate of the Boeing effort resting on his shoulders Knox receives a final blessing from Frank status for me it’s about as big a day as a test pond so we’re gonna have a chance to go to our first flight it’s a big day for me it’s a big day for the rest of the team it’s been four years now working very hard everybody from flight controls to APU pumps structure and a lot of hard work we should get a nice safe flight in big problems yeah couldn’t be a nicer day everybody’s smiling look at shark sir that face forever you bet there’s one team the Fred Knox is nervous he doesn’t show even after finding some stray tools in the cockpit oh sweet home it’ll be fun Thanks Knox is alone in the plane he has plenty of company in the air to chase planes flown by other test pilots will monitor is flight it’s gonna be exciting finally all of our life is in there let’s sweat in tears like proud parents the weary engineers and mechanics of the fantomworks gathered to see their fighter off today’s flight isn’t a round trip the Boeing plane is leaving the fantomworks for good to take up residence at Edwards Air Force Base a short distance away bawling like a baby yeah I mean it was it was excitement you know and then it was just kind of mainly a huge sense of relief within minutes the X plane is in the airspace over Edwards wheels down just in case knops has flown this plane for hundreds of hours in a simulator now he gets to see if the real thing handles the same way then Boeing test pilot dennis o’donoghue and his chase plane spots a problem with the source of the leak uncertainty notch is told to cut short his long-awaited flight there she is got one Flint under her belt we dropped a little fluid out of it we never lost everything stayed up its full normal landing did find qualities about well bounty he was getting nervous he couldn’t stand the fluid pump the hydraulic leak turns out to be minor a tiny glitch in an otherwise triumphant day / edwards boeing begins a series of test flights during each one the pilot puts a plane through a specific set of maneuver is known as test points sensors document the planes flying characteristics results go to the jsf so far the plane’s performance closely mirrors the Boeing simulations a sign of just how sophisticated computer designs become every pilot has been astounded at how closely the airplane actually matches what we thought it would do from air speeds and flying qualities and system performance that’s just been a really good surprise while this version of the boeing x-plane is intended for both the Air Force and Navy the Navy requirements that will be the most demanding commander phil yates callsign rowdy is the official Navy test pilot assigned to the Boeing effort for him it was an unexpected honor I received a phone call how would you like to be the first Navy pilot to fly the jsf after picking my chin up off the ground I said yeah I think I’d like to do that carrier landings are a testament to the precision skill of Navy pilots and routing is one of the best in preparation for testing the boeing x-plane he takes an f-18 Hornet out first and okay good nozzles good hydraulic pressure to get rpm and salute here we go carrier landings are probably the most demanding task a pilot may be faced with especially at night in adverse conditions pitching deck bad weather have to be able to precisely control the airplane flying at about a hundred and fifty miles per hour Navy pilots aim for a target zone of only a hundred and twenty feet about the size of a tennis court they must catch one of four arresting cables pilots don’t apply brakes in fact at contact with the flight deck they gun the engine to full power but if the plane misses the cables there’s enough thrust to get airborne if landing on a runway is like threading a belt to a belt loop landing on a carrier is like threading a needle a test pilots job is to jump into a plane in which he may have little experience and report on its pros and cons when you start doing that in an airplane that’s never been flown before that it it really is what gets a test pilot I think that’s excited what’s exciting to a test pilot would be sheer terror to most people here at Edwards rowdy will put boeing’s x-plane through the precision maneuvers of a carrier landing we all recognize that these are unproven airplanes but we as test pilots deal with that that we’re going to be able to handle any situation that the aircraft presents to us if we don’t feel that way we wouldn’t be fine the Boeing team has worked hard to minimize the danger the test requires bau-t to fly so close to the ground any error or technical problem may be fatal a section of runway has been marked off equal to the landing strip my carrier day got it goes imagine that phantom3 from a control room miles away a team of Boeing engineers monitors the explains every move pilot learns what kind of corrections and control inputs he has to make and then it’s also the aircraft’s ability to respond to those control inputs it’s that combination that ultimately determines how well the airplane is going to do at the ship as he would on a real carrier rowdy receives visual cues from an optical landing aid called the fernell lens if he can line up an amber light called the meatball correctly rowdy knows he’s approaching at a safe angle for a successful touchdown he gets additional tips from a landing signal officer on the ground a real carrier this officer would give a score to every landing we’re not really trying to grade the pilot on what what route he’s doing he’s the school-day viateur who knows how to make the corrections dodgeball so what we’re trying to look this find out how the airplanes performing was with certain deviations applied to it with each attempt the degree of difficulty goes up to recreate real-world conditions rowdy begins an approach to sending too fast for a too steep an angle and then tries to correct for it man that’s amazing the X in X plane means experimental but occasionally it means unexpected on one test flight pilot dennis o’donoghue runs into trouble we were just doing a routine test with the aircraft to see if we ever lost the engine could we in crank the engine back up and get it real it suddenly a warning light comes on indicating the X planes landing brakes have failed acting the warning light is at fault O’Donoghue brings the plane in to land on the runway without brakes he will quickly run out of room risking injury to himself and his reputation wrecking a multi-million dollar X plane doesn’t look good on the resume and touchdown press the brake pedals no response was just a matter of adding power getting airplay again with the brakes definitely gone it’s time for Plan B saving a 21st century plane using a two-million-year-old lake bed had plenty of lake bed in front of me touchdown and just let the aircraft roll to a stop had we not have the lakebed that would have been a much more critical emergency much more critical after a month of successful flights Boeing’s luck has run out repairing the brakes reveals a major software problem or planes grounded to make matters worse Boeing no longer has the skies over Edwards to itself that very day Lockheed’s explained is finally ready to leave its factory home and head into battle the explains first flight is in the hands of chief test pilot Tom Morgan Feld having flown everything from the first stealth fighter to black aircraft that are still classified Morgan Feld has unrivaled experience yet he is all too familiar with the dangers of flight tests in 1992 while piloting an Air Force prototype a computer malfunction sends Morgan Feld’s aircraft into a violent oscillation after skidding inflamed for more than a mile organ Feld walks away unharmed now nearly a decade later the legendary test pilot is about to climb into another untested fighter no turning back now I think I’ve committed myself huh the first time you fly an airplane that’s a tremendous thrill your your hearts pumping and the Adrenaline’s flowing believe me in a lockheed tradition Morgan Feld carries with him the wallets and car keys of assembly manager Edie buer and the rest of the senior explained team it’s a sign of confidence I am sorry so or zelda demotion right now come on Mike after 22 minutes the first flight is over Lockheed’s X plane touches down the beautiful man up there right now take care of my baby good job what airplane great it was super yeah thanks very much oh and felt great I wish he was down a little bit more I was wife want to keep on flying airplanes ready – yeah that’s we’re gonna find it out of this airplane and just kick every day that’s what it’s all about true to resumix word the Lockheed X plane is back in the sky the very next day a carefully orchestrated series of maneuvers slowly reveals this Jets true capabilities baby steps is a very good way to put it very small analytical incremental steps we don’t want to go out and push the airplane or the pilot or the testing beyond their capabilities Lieutenant Colonel Paul Smith Cole sign T P is the JSF chief test pilot brought in from the Air Force and assigned to the Lockheed effort like all the pilots he spent hours in the simulator it didn’t quite prepare him for the field of the real thing probably the most incredible experience I felt was the enormous power behind me of the injury I’ve never had this happen to me but his price anonymous would being shot out of a firehose just a very steady incredible amount of acceleration right through your back and the feeling Knight this was a stallion that was ready to go anywhere any place I wanted it to and if I just let it go it would go there the lockheed plane is like a stallion in another way as well like all fighters when it comes to fuel it eats like a horse while not a jsf requirement lockheed wants to tank up its plane through aerial refuelling and to make up for lost time Lockheed’s ambitious test scheduled depends on there was a lot of pressure to get the the aerial feeling certification done so we could start tanking the amount of time we could spin in the air before four that was about 30 minutes realistically and that was just not enough time to get everything done that we need to get done with only two flights in the x-plane under his belt TP will attempt one of the most dangerous missions of the Lockheed program air-to-air tanking has always been kind of intimidating to me because throughout my career I’ve been taught don’t let anything touch her airplane don’t let another aircraft hit it don’t let ground fire hit it don’t let missiles hit it and then the first thing you do is you go up to this tanker and the tanker hits you at 20,000 feet VP rendevouz with a kc-135 heavily loaded with fuel the tanker slowly extends a boom towards a receptacle located behind the cockpit of the x-plane it’s really a basic feeling of trust between you and the guy flying the room to make sure he doesn’t hit the airplane where he’s not supposed to TP cautiously edges closer at that point you just have to fly very stable because he’s trying to plug that boom in the back of the aircraft running low on fuel with only minutes before having to abort TP makes contact and you can actually feel it in the airplanes you feel like you are part of the tanker and it can actually fly you around but at that point you just kind of relax or try to relax and stay in that same position while you download gas X plane and tanker are now coupled in tight formation at 350 miles per hour less than five minutes later the crucial maneuver is over this airplane flew tremendously well on the boom better than any other airplane I’ve flown and so it was very easy to get confident in yourself and confident in the airplane very quickly for the competition lockheed designed its X plane to use the air force system of aerial refueling but Boeing’s gone with the Navy’s version with its software bugs fixed boeing’s x-plane is back in the air Navy planes have a fuel probe designed to plug into a drogue basket at the end of a hose dangling from the tanker but during Boeing’s first refueling attempt the basket flies dangerously close to instruments mounted on the nose these test sensors are used only for evaluating the plane’s performance but if the basket breaks them off they may be sucked into the engine that will bring down the plane and that’s not the only problem when the refueling basket makes it onto the probe it fails to seat properly sending gas everywhere but the tank Boeing effort aerial refueling ruled out as too dangerous I’m sure that knowings engineering staff was somewhat puzzled by all this there was some serious study work done there were a lot of engineering studies that were conducted but converting that data to the full-scale finished artifact as is often in times a little bit of a magical process and it doesn’t always work out for the remainder of flight testing the boeing x-plane gets its gas on the ground and the company’s month head start on Lockheed rips away every time they have to land and refuel and they’re losing time while they’re doing that Lockheed Martin is in the air and they’re completing all their flight test objectives for Lockheed one goal has remained out of reach in a month of test flights it’s X plane achieves Mach point nine eight just short of breaking the sound barrier by gharial refueling the jsf doesn’t require a demonstration of supersonic flight but with only three more test flights of this version of their explained left locking wants to hear the boom supersonic for the first time it’s an emotional victory as much as anything else people understand supersonic that work in this industry and it’s a very very big thing the crew has worked out here for now approaching 30 days seven days a week 12 hours a day and it’s nice to give him a lift the Lockheed x-plane team has struggled with a host of small that stubborn problems that have kept the plane subsonic but at the end of a long day of flying when best pilot Morgan failed at the controls all that is forgotten the Lockheed plane crosses the boundary first shattered in the same skies by the very first X plane lighting the afterburner provides the extra push needed to go supersonic means very successful end to a hugely successful first month of flying Lockheed arrived late to flight nest made up for it with a record-setting performance for an X plane 27 flights in 30 days a month later boeing’s x-plane goes supersonic as well the aircraft’s grace in the air and strong test results have quieted the critics of it’s less than sleek shape driven by the competition each company has taken its explained to new levels of performance only to see its adversary do the same you had two aircraft prototypes and yet they were flying several times a day and this is unheard of for explains and it’s a testament to both designs and both design teams that they were able to do this both teams set out to demonstrate a certain number of test points they both seem to have done it both aircraft flew they were pretty reliable I don’t think there’s anything that’s come out of this stage of the program that would say that one or the other is going to win a Boeing airplane is much more of a competitor than anybody in particular Lockheed really expected I don’t see any distinct advantage to either airplane at this stage the game I’d have to tell you that it is neck-and-neck both Boeing and Lockheed realized the entire competition and the largest military contract ever may come down to the jsf spinal requirement achieving the harrier trick of landing vertically Houdini once made a five-ton elephant disappear lockheed plans an even greater feat to levitate over three times that weight a 17-ton fighter using its radical new lift fan the fate of the competition perhaps even the fate of the company rests on this untested system all of their eggs are in this one basket if they do lose effectively Lockheed Martin as a fighter production entity in the United States that will come to an end they have nothing else to keep their front doors open Lockheed engineers install their lift fan system into the X plane hopefully transforming it into that hybrid of the skies a vertically landing ject while it remains unproven the concept behind their unique lift fan system exudes engineering elegance two columns of air instead of one in the hairier balance the plane’s descent one column is the engine exhaust directed downward the other column is created by a lift fan connected to the engine by a driveshaft the fan takes an air from above and blasts it out below it’s an ingenious system but in practice it requires a symphony of moving parts Lockheed has chosen a very complex solution if something goes mechanically catastrophic ly wrong during the hover you have very very little time to get out a former Royal Navy pilot with Harrier combat experience in the Falklands in Bosnia Simon Hargreaves will attempt the first hover in the Lockheed explained he spent years in preparation still there’s no question he’s about to take a ride on the wild side nobody’s ever tried to model a propulsion system that’s quiet as complex as it is quite as integrated as this so there may be some areas there where the airplane doesn’t respond exactly as I’m expecting the vertical landing tests will start over a hover pit 10 feet deep and covered by a steel grate the hover pit is designed to minimize the chance the engine will suck in its own hot exhaust hot gas ingestion is a familiar danger to higher your pilot’s if the exhaust used to float the plane somehow enters the engines air intake the engine will start to choke what happens when you ingest hot gas your thrust decays your thrust decays you lose lift you lose lift you start descending at a rapid rate and can lead to a catastrophic accident venting the hot gases out the side of the hover pit provides some protection there’s no well there we go 70% Hargrave hold steady twenty feet in the air at 35,000 pounds it’s the heaviest fighter ever to hover Wow the lift fan performs without incident and produces 1500 pounds more thrust than predicted now that’s great now it’s in print let’s do that again after nearly two years of struggling to keep up with Boeing the lucky team now has reason to display their usual abundance of self-confidence we’ve never had it doubt in our minds at any point in this program that this is a right type of airplane and propulsion system that we’ve felt very sorry for the competing team against us I never felt sorry for ya that’s true while the lift fan works lockheed still hasn’t accomplished the tricky midair maneuver called conversion going from level flight to vertical landing it’s complicated dance of moving parts the same morning lockheed lifts off Boeing plans a dramatic demonstration of its own vertical lift system the company’s second X plane has been flown across the country the new proximity to Washington decision-makers and lobbyists dust dirt but the real advantage is invisible the air at sea level has greater density than at the high altitude location of Edwards Air Force Base thicker air means better engine performance in this test of its direct lift system boeing hopes to outdo locky test pilot dennis o’donoghue will start in level fighting slow the plane down to nothing and hover his slow speed would make the wings useless and a failure of the lift system need to mean the flame falls from the sky to give O’Donoghue a chance to eject boeing has conducted its early tests at higher altitudes gradually working lower and slower now after 43 flights boeing is ready to go all the way to attempt zero airspeed Oh Oh Donahue’s family is among the spectators of today’s historic event I think Janice swept because he knew he needed to the boy slept bunting sleep a wink okay Danny circling yes 200 feet above the runway O’Donoghue slowly decelerates to zero airspeed and hovers a twenty-eight thousand pound airplane hangs frozen in the sky they’re yelling and clapping and now I’m driving I’m sanding this right there on this day the boeing x-plane hovers four times once for two and a half minutes and demonstrating rock-solid control performs a perfect 360 degree term it was just wonderful Brendon so it was better than Star Wars and for him that’s a lot one month later Boeing is ready to make history if it works its ex plane will become the first new fighter since the harrier to transition from conventional flight to landing vertically for this risky mission boeing will also use a hover pit to reduce the chances of hot exhaust being ingested into the engine during the landing to increase the margin of safety boeing engineers have removed some exterior parts to lighten the explains weight some critics will cry foul but boeing will respond that its new design which didn’t have time to build but will submit to the jsf as its final proposal is fifteen hundred pounds lighter dennis o’donoghue is in the cockpit again a flight test conductor Howard go ffice will closely monitor the mission from the ground now there’s fewer unknowns we know we can do it we know we’ve been there we know what we’ve seen so far but we’re still only one failure away from having a really bad day closing in over the Pitts the boeing x-plane comes to a stop begins a slow descent if disaster strikes O’Donoghue is now too low to reject suddenly the controller spot trouble invisibly the engine has ingested hot gas from the lift nozzles and loses power O’Donoghue feels the bottom dropping out but it’s too late to abort 20 feet in only seconds from the ground the gas dissipates the engine gains enough thrust to touch down safely he’s down on the ground and we realize it and and so there’s the you’re in the quandary for that split second ok we just did our first V L what happened over by the runway no one is aware of the close call reviewing the data the test team believes a choice made to increase safety the hover pit may be causing the problem there’s almost no crosswind to clear the pit of exhaust hot gas may be collecting and bouncing upward into the air they decide to attempt a second vertical landing but on a solid surface we decided we were gonna go for their vertical landing on the path so we set up all the numbers set it all up and and know that hate the same thing could happen there forget the party the second vertical landing goes about a hitch everyone’s enormous relief but just a week later during another vertical landing old friend faced an unwelcome visit it’s a pop stole the result of hot gas ingestion just above the ground a common event in Harriers Boeing engineers predicted it might happen and designed it out of their new version but they decide to play it safe and stop testing their vertical system a month later Boeing completes all major requirements for the Pentagon ahead of the competition it’s a major landmark and if anything has them worried the Boeing executives certainly don’t show it I’m confident that we are the head of the class and I expect to stay the lockheed plane now needs to prove its ready for primetime by performing the critical transition from conventional flight to hover to landing vertically we need to demonstrate that we can land on a solid surface both to make sure we’ve got the performance and the flying qualities to do that to make sure that we’ve dealt with ground effects such as hot gas ingestion and to prove that we can land on a normal sort of surface without damage or significant erosion to the surface at a thousand feet Simon Hargreaves engages the lift fan and slows down were there from the front exhaust from the rear nozzle and balance the Lockheed explained floats on nearly 40,000 pounds of thrust this system avoids the problems of the Harrier and Boeing’s direct lift cooler air from the lift fan creates an invisible barrier that prevents the engine from choking on its own hot gas after two minutes of hovering Hargreaves eases off the throttle and gently guides the explained down it’s been a long time coming and that’s going I can say is yes it’s gonna be a tough choice if one guy had stumbled here at the end then it would make it easy it’s not an easy choice and that’s what the government wanted the government wanted the clothes horse race and I think they’re gonna get it in the waning days of the competition at an undisclosed location somewhere near the Pentagon JSF director general Michael how takes Nova inside a world where cameras have never been allowed behind a wall of security the secret proposals of Boeing and Lockheed are being evaluated by the government team that will help determine the winner of the Joint Strike Fighter program this is where the proposals are all electronic of course just so we’ve got 200 people off and on coming in and look at proposals one at a time gauging it against the operational Carles documents digging through mountains of data experts evaluate performance cost management and risk some of them are doing aerodynamic performance figuring out how fast will go what is the range how will it turn what kanji scan is sustained others are evaluating software and architecture now near the end of this jury process the results are one of JSF s most closely guarded secrets we got six weeks left by which we’re going to take the results of our evaluation give to Secretary of the Air Force so in harmony with the Secretary of the Navy he’s gonna make a decision of who’s going to build the airplane for the world fighter for the next 40 years as the final decision approaches known in military speak is down select Boeing remains confident that its manufacturing know-how and cost-saving designs have made it a winner I think we all feel pretty good about going into downselect and I think we truly believe that we’ve got the right vehicle for the customer but just before it crosses the finish line Lockheed plans a final dramatic display a bid for the history books and bait for the huge government contract in a test flight lockheed dubs mission x its fighter takes off in less than 500 feet ben goes supersonic and Landsberg since the Harrier is subsonic the manoeuvre is a milestone in aviation history and a direct hit on Boeing’s need to strip off parts for vertical landing and reinstall them for supersonic flight but the Lockheed team pushes its luck too far they attempt a vertical takeoff and transition to conventional fire when the plane bobbles in the wind on liftoff the mission is aborted but the failure does nothing to dampen Lockheed’s legendary mix of technical ingenuity and engineering arrogance this company believes it is won the right to build the first fighter of the 21st century we did our part of the bargain now the rest of it’s up to the government five years after the battle began it’s d-day the decision is in the back the contractors anxiously await the news in Palmdale California Rick Reza Beck and a few hundred members of the Lockheed team gather in the x-plane hangar we’ve we did as much as we needed to win this thing in very I don’t know comfortably anxiously nervous and confident yeah while in an office in Seattle a leader of boeing’s x-plane program frank status and company vice chairman Harry stone cyphers stand by for word where we’re gonna be able to watch this thing bro to announce the largest acquisition program in the history of the Department of Defense the Joint Strike Fighter the value of the program could be in excess of 200 billion dollars to contractor teams one led by Lockheed Martin and the other led by Boeing have just completed a concept development phase both contractor teams met or exceeded the performance objectives established for the aircraft process involved at the end was about 250 people and both proposals very good both demo programs are very good but on the basis of strengths weaknesses and degrees of risk of the program it is our conclusion joined in by our colleagues from the United Kingdom that the Lockheed Martin team the pilgrim on a best value basis winner of the Joint Strike Fighter program on a best value basis Franco your teammate did an unbelievably good job I I could not have asked in a call from Washington Boeing CEO Phil conduct consoles his team is it a winner takeoff though at this point the answer is yes that business is amazing holding a winner-take-all you did a great job I’m sorry no you did a great job in my mind the the Boeing redesign the hot gas ingestion makes me wonder if for Boeing to win lockheed lift fan engine had to fail one of the biggest deciding factors in this competition in my opinion was that boeing never managed to make a vertical landing with the aircraft and complete configuration they took the inlet cowl off they took the landing gear doors off lockheed martin made complete vertical landings with the aircraft in the same trim that it could go to supersonic speed in the ex35 now officially designated the f-35 may become the most widely deployed fighter ever produced do I think it’s ironic that Lockheed in 1943 in effect gave birth under the auspices of the skunkworks to Lockheed p80 which was the first successful operational jet fighter used by the US military and here it is almost 60 years later and they are now the winner of the JSF competition which could result in potentially the last manned jet fighter it’s the the closing of a major chapter in the history of a u.s.
airpower with a buy-in from the services and billions in foreign sales the future of the f-35 looks bright but fasten your seatbelts there may be turbulence ahead now the fun really begins because Lockheed has to deliver on its cost and performance promises for two JSF and the government’s already talking about cutting the number of airplanes is going to buy and spending more on unmanned combat air vehicles and who’s one of the top builders of unmanned combat air vehicles Chloe losing the battle of the X planes may not mean losing the war to dominate the future of American airpower the last chapter in the JSF story is really yet to be written what was it like to be the only TV journalist allowed to come .
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