L-R: Boeing X-32 and Lockheed Martin X-35
(click on photo for high-resolution view)
The JSF program emphasizes low cost and efficiency. The JSF will cost little more than the present-day F-16, even though it represents at least a 30% improvement in areas such as range, payload, maintenance, and stealth.
Three versions of the JSF will be built:
Two companies are competing to produce the JSF. Boeing's entry is the X-32 (Landen's favorite, pictured above). Lockheed's entry is the X-35 (seen on the background of this page), which bears an intentional resemblance to Lockheed's F-22 Raptor.
The winning company will begin production and development of the JSF in 2001, and the aircraft should enter operational service in 2008. Almost 3000 aircraft are expected to be ordered by the U.S. military, and another 60 by the British Royal Navy.
All JSF variants will have a high degree of commonality but will also have
unique technology and the capability to meet their specific requirements.
For example, here are the requirements for the Boeing JSF variants:
The JSF will serve as the Air Force's "low-end" complement to the F-22 Raptor. The F-22 will of course be replacing the USAF's aging F-15 fleet, which first entered service in 1975. Then-Air Force acquisition executive Arthur L. Money told Congress in 1998, "The F-22 is the force enabler; the JSF is the force."
The Marine (STOVL) version will be the most demanding to build. It will have to operate vertically, fly at supersonic speeds, and be able to carry a significant weapon payload. Never before has one aircraft performed all those functions.
The Navy version of the JSF will serve as their "high-end" weapons system, complementing the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet which is currently in production.
The JSF will have a single engine. The Navy wanted the JSF to be a twin-engine aircraft, to prevent single engine failure from causing an over-water disaster. However, years of flight data showed that today's single-engine jets have safety records which compare favorably to older twin-engine aircraft such as the F-14 Tomcat.