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1 27th December 16:51
the raven
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Posts: 1
Default F-32 vs F-35

We all know that the X-35 won the JSF contest which is now in the strategic
development phase as the F-35. At the time the competition winner was
announced (LM) I wondered why Boeing would scrap their whole concept rather
than push forward with it.

For various political reasons Boeing could have pushed forward with the X-32
into other non-JSF (and friendly) markets. Imagine the competition that
potentially could be generated from an F32 vs F35 sale to foreign nations?
Imagines LM's concern that potential partners may decide it could be more
cost effective to go with an F32? Imagine the potential (albeit unlikely) of
F32 going up against F35? Imagine the possibility of a second JSF-like
aircraft capability for the US to tap into if need be?

For Boeing, excluding any political over-rides, they could have had a market
for their aircraft that competed directly against the F35 and/or eroded some
of it's competitors market. Additionally, it could upset the supposed
superiority of the F35 by offering something (possibly) similar in
capability to the F35 than anything else.

So the question is, could there have economically been a market for the F32
outside the US and would the US government have allowed Boeing to produce
such an aircraft?

My initial assumption is that the US government wouldn't allow Boeing to do
such for reasons including: protecting LM's interests, ensuring that other
nations didn't end up with similar capabilities, and to protect US

The Raven
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** since August 15th 2000.
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2 27th December 16:51
kevin brooks
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Default F-32 vs F-35

I suspect some of their X-32 technology is making its way into their UCAV conceptual vehicle.

Imagine the cost of development. No company has the resources required to
develop a first-line combat aircraft today independent of governmental
financing. When that governmental financing goes down, pace of development
also takes a nosedive--take the Rafale as an example.

Ain't gonna happen without governmental R&D support.

No and yes (but a meaningless yes as it just was not a possible outcome).

Then that would be an incorrect assumption. The fact is that the development
costs for such advanced aircraft are extremely expensive, and the US could
only afford to back one horse, just as it could only afford to field one of
those horses itself.

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3 27th December 16:53
scott ferrin
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Default F-32 vs F-35

Why would anybody buy the loser? The STOVL version barely was able to
do a vertical takeoff and landing at all. They had to strip it down
and go down to sea level to pull it off. God help them if they
actually put some payload on it. Also the X-32 would be WAY more
expensive because of the few numbers bought. Between the USAF, USN,
and Marines the requirement is for several thousand aircraft (whether
they'll get all they want is a differnet question).

Imagine if the F-22 only cost fifty bucks. Look how many we could
buy. No offense but just about everything about the idea of Boeing
producing the X-32 is a bad idea.

Like who? Just about every potential buyer has already bought into
the F-35. The X-32 didn't exactly cover itself in glory during the competition.

It isn't supposedly superior, it is superior. There was really no
debating it, unlike the F-22/F-23 competition.

Nope and the only reason the government would be against it is because
it could be financially devestating to the company.

Why would they want to protect Lockhed's interest? They didn't say
"Look Boeing, you can't sell F-15s anymore and you can't offer Super
Hornets to anybody else".
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4 4th January 04:05
paul f austin
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Default F-32 vs F-35

Money of course. Both aircraft were very far from final production designs.
LM didn't get a $24B (that's Billion) FSD contract for nothing and Boeing
would be betting the company in staggering fashion...just to try and
duplicate Northrop's F-20 strategy.
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5 4th January 04:07
the raven
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Default F-32 vs F-35

No doubt a lot of the technology will be used but the platform itself was
pretty impressive despite not winning the JSF contest.

Hence look for governments outside the US that are willing to do it. I'm not
suggesting the F32 would end up with the exact same capability and fitout as
planned but it could be built with the commitment of several governments.

There are more governments in the world than the US government.

Why not possible. Not all aircraft developments hinge on funding from Uncle Sam.

To the spec they had set, probably. Without those constraints it *may* be
possible to bring the X-32 into production but obviously in a somewhat
different form (which may be at a lesser cost than the proposed F-32).

There's obviously a market for this type of aircraft or the competition
wouldn't have taken place. Who's to say there isn't other markets than the
current JSF partner nations? I'm sure others would like something similar
and, combined together, could probably generate sufficient funds to see the
X32 developed into something.

The Raven
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6 4th January 04:07
the raven
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Default F-32 vs F-35

Because not everyone can afford the winner nor do they have the specific
requirements set out for JSF?

While that was a critical requirement, it was directly aimed at providing a
replacement for the Harriers. How many nations really need, or can afford,
VTOL? Of course STOL is another thing.

It was a prototype and that specific requirement was technically
challenging. Not everyone will be able to master it but that shouldn't rule
out the aircrafts other capabilities.

It's primarily the Harrier operators that want the VTOL capabilities, which aren't numerous.

Depends on final spec doesn't it. You build to a capability/budget/market,
it's a balance. I'm not suggesting the X32 be developed exactly to the
original requirements of JSF, it might be possible to build it to a less
stringent requirement.

The VTOL requirement is a big cost driver, drop that and the aircraft
development becomes more affordable.

Between all the partner nations it's approx 4000.

I'm sure other nations/forces would be interested in something that may not
be a JSF equal but is close enough and cheaper.

An extreme example that doesn't hold up because it's totally unrealistic.
What if the F32 could be made to near JSF requirements (minus VTOL for
example) for $10M cheaper per copy? That would heat up the competition and
get the interest of buyers. I'm sure Boeing would find a market for that,
possibly big enough to make it viable.

I concede it may not be economically viable (has Boeing done the numbers?).
However if you've already developed a prototype, you think it will succeed
and, theres a markets for it why not investigate those other markets? Sure,
Boeing missed the "A" market but perhaps can they trim the X32 down for a "B" market?

IIRC Japan and Israel are making overtures that they want JSF and they want
it first, despite not being partners. Taiwan has expressed some interest, reportedly.

Specific competition, specific rules. Run a competition (eg. Tender) with a
different set of rules and the F35 may not win. Australias AIR6000 project
had numerous contenders including JSF (at least until the politicians
over-ruled the process)

If Australia, for example, had the choice of the F35 or a slightly cheaper
(and somewhat lesser capable) F32 they would probably go down the F32 route
(ignoring US-AUS politicing). Australia tends to buy the closest match to
their requirement for the lowest cost. Rarely do they spend the extra for
the "A+" option, they buy the B+ or A-.

Superior to the type of aircraft it is planned to face. Make the F32 a
reality and the superiority gap could narrow significantly.

I don't disagree that the X32 didn't perform as well as the X35 during the JSF competition.

I see several possible reasons, even assuming the F32 would be less capable:

1. It potentially competes against the F35 when considered by customers with
smaller budgets.
2. A lower cost F32 that could sway existing JSF partners from full
3. It provides others access to stealth capability etc, narrowing the
superiority gap.
4. Less sales of F35 drives up final unit costs.
5. Political pressure from vested interests (eg. LM)

See above. The US has an interest in LM succeeding and selling lots of F35s,
lower unit costs and sustainable production being two obvious reasons.

How does an F-15 or Super Hornet compare against an F35? It doesn't, for the
JSF requirements, otherwise the US would be buying more of those rather than
funding JSF.

The Raven
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7 4th January 04:08
kevin brooks
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Default F-32 vs F-35

Not really--that was why it lost to the LMCO bid. It was a dog. And it was
danged ugly, with a capital U, to boot--danged thing looked like a pregnant
cow with wings strapped on its back. Hell, it made the old EE Lightning look
like a true beauty, and that is saying something (not knocking the
Lightning, which was a capable and fine aircraft for its day, but it was not
looking to win any beauty contests).

All of which would be much happier just piggybacking on the massive R&D
funding that the USG is placing in the winning F-35 program. Note that a lot
of other nations HAVE ponied up R&D money to participate in this program,
and none of them have come forth saying, "Hey, can we buy into that Boeing
dog instead?" That said, the US is footing the majority of the bill. Note
that the consortium of major European nations developing the Eurofighter
have had their hands full funding that program (and now have the added
challenge of funding the A-400); given that situation, how likely is it that
you could find any group of "other" friendly nations that would be willing
to come up with the many billions of dollars required to make the X-32
viable? Not very, IMO.

And outside of Europe how many (in the "friendly to the US category") are in
a financial position to fork over the $30 billion or more required to make
the X-32 a real F-32? Japan springs to mind...but they are already fully
committed to their own F-2 project. Recall that one of the reasons Boeing
came up short in this competition was that their X-32 was apparently quite a
bit further from being a workable fighter than the competing LMCO X-35 was;
Boeing had already had to admit that some *major* redesign would be required
based upon flight test results of the X-32. In comparison, the F-35 has so
far undergone relatively little external change from the X-35 article (some
increased dimensions, i.e., a slightly larger cross section of the fuselage
behind the ****pit IIRC) during the period before the design outline was
frozen a year or more ago.

Look, get the "anything said has to relate to some kind of superiority
complex regarding the US" chip off your shoulder, OK? The fact of the matter
is that (a) the X-35 was the better platform, by most accounts; (b) the X-32
had some significant design flaws requiring major redesign before it was
ready to move into the fighter realm; and (c) the plain fact of the matter
is that there are not any nations out there that both have the available
capital to manage such an expensive proposition and are not ALREADY
committed to other major development projects, and who fall into that vital
"friendly to the US" category. All of that adds up to this being a completely unworkable proposition.

Hardly. You keep forgetting that the X-32 was a lot further from being an
F-32 than the X-35 was from being the F-35. Even doing all of the expensive
redesign to make the F-32 a reality would still leave you with an aircraft
that is inferior to the LMCO product, and you'd have dumped beaucoup bucks
into making *that* a reality. Not a good way of doing business, even at the governmental level.

No, the competition took place because we wanted to select the best
competitor for further development. The fact that two companies competed to
the point that they did had nothing to do with the size of the market--it
could have just as well been handled on the basis of selecting the best
proposal from one of the firms without having developed flight-capable
demonstrators, but that would not have been wise given that the basic
aircraft is asked to do quite a lot more than any other current or planned
fighter project under development anywhere in the world (demanding the same
basic aircraft design be capable of conventional land based use, CTOL
carrier use, and STOVL was quite a tall order).

Who's to say there isn't other markets than the

OK, so you come up with a list of these economically able nations who (a)
are on our good guys list, (b) are not already committed to other expensive
R&D efforts, and (c) are willing to dump insane amounts of capital towards
the fielding of an aircraft that is going to in the end undoubtedly cost
more per unit (when all of that additional R&D is factored in) than the F-35
(which not only required less redesign but also enjoys the largesse of Uncle
Sugar handling the majority of the R&D funding, and enjoys a large base
order from the US which drives the unit cost down) and is a less capable
platform than the F-35 is to boot. If you find any, let me know; I can get
them some prime beachfront property in Nevada for a small finders fee, and
if they are gullible enough to support this proposal they will surely find
that real estate very attractive.

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8 4th January 04:08
the raven
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Default F-32 vs F-35

It was less capable but the platform was impressive in several technological areas.

I didn't know that the main criteria for selecting any piece of military
hardware was that it had to look good.

The Boeing platform wasn't a "dog" otherwise it would never have gotten as
far as it did into the competition.

The reason no-one has considered the X32 is simply because Boeing hasn't
proceded with it, for whatever reasons. Had Boeing said "We're going ahead
anyway with a revised design that we believe will offer similar capabilities
for a lower cost" then some may have expressed interest in finding out what this may be.

As major buyer, who also has a vested interest in LM selling heaps, you'd expect that.

A good point.

Naturally Boeing would have to offer something very attractive in the form
of capability and cost to garner enough financial interest to go ahead. Who
funds Boeings development of any commercial aircraft today?

Is it really 30B or is that the forecast for the F35?

There are lots of asian nations looking for replacements, most friendly.
However, it would obviously need some careful thought and serious committment.

Has Boeing has ever produced a fighter aircraft?

Fair enough, the X35 is superior to the X32 but I wouldn't rule out that the
X32 could not be developed into something very capable. The crux of the X32
development is, who would fund it and whether enough could be built to make
it viable. I think it's a shame to see the X32 be discontinued merely
because it didn't meet a specific specification yet shows promise.

Sorry, I don't have a chip on my shoulder about the US. I was responding to
your use of the word "government" implying the US government. I took it that
you ruled out all other governments as a possible source of funding.

I don't know if there were significant design flaws but I appreciate that a
prototype is a prototype and not expected to be perfect. Obviously, the X32
didn't perform as well as teh X35. Some redesign may be necessary but I
don't think the aircraft is inherently bad. If it was so bad, it would never
have made it into the competition or remained there until the end.

I concede it's a tough ask but it isn't impossible.

I not so certain it's completely unworkable. Difficult yes, viable maybe.
Certainly it would be better than someone embarking on another all new aircraft design.

I agree it's less mature but that doesn't mean it's so bad it should be scrapped.

Depends on the final capability requirements, which may not be the same as
the F35. Where not even certain of what all the final capabilities of the
F35 will be. Just because it doesn't beat an F35 doesn't mean it's inferior.

I'm not suggesting that the X32 be developed into a direct competitor with a
100% match in capability to the F35. The suggestion is that the X32
development not be wasted and that it could be developed into something
viable. Not everyone wants the full JSF capability or can afford it. The X32
has the potentional to fill that market.

Which was decided by the government and their end users who had specific
requirements in mind. These requirements do not necessarily reflect those of
everyone else but, they may come close.

Obviously it did. No use bidding to produce and aircraft which has such a
limited market the customer won't be able to afford it and you wont be able
to sell it elsewhere.

Several points here.

Why would anyone go to this effort if there was no return in it for them? If
you knew you had no chance of winning you'd save your R&D budget and bow out
of the competition.

You state that the basic aircraft was set requirements that no other
aircraft currently has. If those requirements are so valuable then there is
potentially a market for more than one offering. Sure, the market may be
limited in size but buyers will always prefer two options over one. Hence,
an F32 could provide an alternative even allowing that it may be less capabl
e than an F35. Of course, to do this an F32 would need to be attractive in
some other way (eg. affordability, trading off expensive capabilities not
required by most customers - VTOL).

I suggested a few but there would be others.

Australia, Israel, Taiwan (?) for starters.


You forget to factor in the existing R&D has already been paid for, which
reduces the cost somewhat.


Yes, it's not going to be easy to generate the funding but that doesn't mean
it's as impossible as you suggest. Aircraft have been designed before with
the US funding it and I don't dispute that the benefit of a large base

Less capable than the F35 means nothing if you don't want all the
capabilities of an F35.

The Raven
** President of the ozemail.* and uunet.* NG's
** since August 15th 2000.
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9 29th January 07:59
scott ferrin
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Default F-32 vs F-35

The thing is, history is litered with losers in competitions who
*were* generally regarded as excellent aircraft. The Boeing TFX was
judged by everybody who viewed the design and specs to be superior to
the General Dynamics TFX (F-111) yet MacNamara overuled everybody and
told them to buy GD's version. The Crusader III was an excellent
aircraft but the Navy decided they wanted two men in the ****pit so it
got the hatchet. The F-23 was designed according to what the airforce
asked for instead of what they wanted so it got the axe. The F-107
lost out to the F-105 though it would have made a better air-to-air
fighter. The YF-14 lost out to the YC-15 for the AMST program even
though it was a superior design. The technology developed on the
YC-15 was eventually incorporated into the C-17. Anyway there are
lots of truely excellent aircraft that for one reason or another never
went into service. I'm sure a lot of countries would have jumped at
the chance to buy Crusader 3s and F-23s but they couldn't afford the
developement costs and neither could the manufacturers. The X-32
wan't even in the ball park. And not only would Boeing have to foot
the bill for developement, somebody would have to foot the bill for
the engine too because it used a different version than the X-35. And
there is a lot to be said for perception. Meaning if the US judged it
lacking why would someone else want to buy it? The YF-17 lost out to
the F-16 but it was radically modified to become the F/A-18 with the
main reason for the Navy taking it was because it had two engines.
Anyway there really isn't a compelling reason for anybody to buy the
X-32 even in it's third itteration.
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10 29th January 07:59
scott ferrin
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Default F-32 vs F-35

Such as?

Not especially but the saying "if it looks good it'll fly good" didn't
come about for nothing.

Two things. 1. Boeing didn't deliver what it promised. That's part
of the reason they lost. In hindsight they might have chosen the
McDonnel/Northrop design to go forward had they known the trouble
Boeing was going to have. 2. There are dogs that get to the
prototype stage. And actually it was emphasized that these *weren't*
prototypes (even though nobody was fooled by that). The A-9 comes to
mind as a dog. The Cutlass and the Demon are up there too and they
actually made it into service. Then there's the jet/turboprop
Thunder-something. Those two turboprop tailsitters. And so on and
so forth.

How do you figure it would be at a lower cost when Boeing would be
footing the entire developement bill *and* they'd be sold in fewer
numbers than the F-35?

Why? Why would it care if LM sells heaps? Hell if Boeing had won
with the X-32, LM could have upgraded and sold F-16s until the cows
came home. There's a ton more that could be done to the F-16 to make
it competitive and even better than the X-32 albeit in the Air Force
role only. Take an F-16XL with a 36k engine with a 3D nozzle,
conformal tanks, a low RCS inlet like they tested on one F-16, and all
the electronic goodies and you'd be just about there at a lower cost
than the F-32 would be.

Boeing. And let's not forget they have a LOT of experience building
commercial aircraft.

$30 billion is quite a bit too much but even if it was only five
billion it would still be unsupportable. Take manufacturing aside and
consider that each F-32 would be 100% profit. At five billion you'd
have to sell 167 aircraft just to break even. That's if they cost $0
to build and if it was only $5 billion more to develope it and Boeing
making $0 dollars in the end. Factor in cost of materials and
manufacturing and a reasonable profit and the number of aircraft you
have to sell to make it viable climbs dramatically. And those are
sales in concrete before you even start. You can't just do all the
work and gamble that someone will want some. Northrop did that with
the F-20 and it was basically an upgraded F-5 and they *still* took it
in the shorts.

Take China, South Korea, and Japan out of the equation and who does
that leave you? Singapore? They're already in the market for a new
fighter *now*. Many of those asian countries you are thinking of are
already buying Flankers because that's all they can afford and they
aren't buying many of those. So they won't have any money for F-32s.
South America is out because all they can afford are last generation
hand-me-downs or the occasional newly built old aircraft. And as far
as serious commitment goes, as I pointed out Boeing would have to
essentially say "give us the money up front and we'll build you
something". They couldn't take the chance that the country(s) would
say "uh, we changed our mind" which EVERY country does. Who in the
last twenty years has EVER bought as many as they thought they were?

Boeing? Nope. Which *definitely* doesn't inspire confidence. Sure
they have McDonnel Douglas that they incorporated but I'd be willing
to bet most of those employees were saying "hell no we didn't design
that POS".

Lots of aircraft could. The F-14 was going to be an ASS kicking
machine before they threw it to the dogs. The F-14D was just the

Look at the F-23 and it *did* meet spec. and had a hell of a lot more

Who could fund it? What combination of likely countries could fund

Well the fact that the only thing the prototype had in common with
their proposed production model was that they were both ugly suggest
that there were significant design flaws. They went from a swept
forward intake to a swept back. They went from a delta wing to a
conventional tailed aircraft. After they did those they later found
out "uh wait, things are going to get too hot" so they added another
significant vent on each side of the ****pit. Who knows what else
they'd have tripped over on their way to a production aircraft.

What made it that far was what Boeing promised. What they delivered
was something else.

You mean like the Rafale, Typhoon and Gripen? Once the F-35 enters
production it's very likely going to clean up the market. I wouldn't
be at all suprised if no more Typhoons or Rafales were sold after
that. Maybe some Gripens if the price is right. Lots of last
generation aircraft will still be sold IMO but the F-35 will be the
one to have for new designs. Mind you, I'm not saying it's BETTER
than the Typhoon but that the difference in capability isn't worth the
difference in cost.

The F-23 was far better than the X-32 and one of those prototypes is
in a friggin CLASSROOM and the other is in a dirt lot out in back of a
hanger somewhere.

That market is already being filled by late model F-16s, F-15s,
Flankers, Gripens, Rafales, Typhoons, Super Hornets and so on.

So do a lot of aircraft that are already on the market.

YF-22 & YF-23. 'nuff said.

Boeing thought they did have a chance although by the looks on their
faces they clearly didn't think it was much of one as the competition
progressed and the X-35 showed it's stuff.

But the X-32 failed to meet those requirements.

Why would they want something that was less capable and more

It wouldnt' be cheaper and if they wanted to trade off VTOL they'd buy
the F-35A instead of B.

Austraila is signed up on the F-35, Israel is buying more F-15s and
F-16s and Taiwan isn't in the market at the moment IRC.

Not as much as you'd think. Boeing's final design was completely
different than the X-32, and the engine would need more developement.
Basically all Boeing got out of the experience was "I think our code
works sort of, a plastic wing doesn't, and the engine might be good if
it was more powerful and our plane was lighter".

I assume you meant to say "without the US funding it". If Boeing
decided to continue with the X-32 it's very unlikely they'd even get
the time of day from the government let alone any money. And what
aircraft have been developed that weren't funded by a major country?
Taiwan came up with one. I think it's South Korea that's doing the
one with Lockheed and I think that's about it. Sweden is sortof in
there with the Gripen but IIRC they have more money to spend that any
of the third string asian nations that might be in the market for an

There are a plethora of alternatives already out there. If I was a
potential buyer would I want to fork out a bunch of money for an
aircraft that lost and whos "final" configuration has never flown? Or
would I want a nice shiny Block 60 F-16 or F-15K for less money?
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