posted on Jan, 19 2006 @ 03:16 PM
Form does NOT follow function. Function (F-for-Fighter not A-for-Attack) follows power installed.
And the X-32 (unlike the A-10, B-52, A-1, /any/ helicopter -or- the X-35) had power in spades. Probably too much power in fact.
As such, despite some embarrasingly predictable difficulties with the short distance from inlet to fan, the Boeing CDA had superior up and away
performance in all areas compared to the X-35 except perhaps combat radius.
Having said that, what killed the X-32 is what is killing the X-35. STOVL.
Remove the STOVL and you can shift the engine back of the CG like it should be and stop trying to pull it out the belly like a mother delivering
twins, simultaneously (what makes the jet 'fat' looking from the frontal area standpoint).
It also means you can rake the inlet the right way from the start (no need to translate the damn cowl) even as there are also no more tailpipe
extensions and separate burner/vectoring gear plumbing. Another big weight savings.
No engine-up-front means a much more svelte (cubist F-16) inlet area as you can readily accomodate the NLG without having to reverse hump the belly to
clear a partial inlet serpentine (90% of the Boeings VLO was assured by a readily removable 'device' integrated with the engine front).
The weapons bays can either stay where they're at or you can shift to a Small Diameter Weapon and AMRAAM casepoint across the belly which means you
can submerge the MLG struts at least partially in the main fuselage (admittedly, wide-track is better for carrier compatibility and crosswind landing
reasons, just ask any F-16 pilot who has bunny hopped halfway down the runway...).
The sadness about the X-32 (other than the fact that team Boeing COULD have been retained in the game as another 'one off' PWSC flight test
comparitor to keep Lunchmeat honest), is that it truly does represent a more advanced aerodynamic AND manufacturing design.
Largely because of the work put into that 'unibody' wing with all the structural members and skins essentially autoclaved as a single piece so that
the necessary holes and openings in an open boxframe fuselage could be present without compromising overall airframe integrity or weight.
While the larger area, cropped delta, super critical, high-taper, anhedralled airfoil configuration worked like a Tomcat wing:glove combination to
provide reasonable cruise drag and trap a lot of around-the-boat lift.
In a span that DID NOT need wingfolds.
Similarly, Boeings' airliner contacts would have provided a 'better' (politically more flexible and quickly integrated, unlike Lunchmeat who are at
risk of losing even their Tier 1 British commitment because they think coproduction means fuzzy dice not FACO) system of remote subcontracting and
total systems integration experience by which to make a cheap jet from foreign sourced components. Very Fast (6 weeks per airframe was once thrown
Though SDLF would never work on any X-32 configuration, it is just 'typical' of the corrupted design process that they assign the high risk, high
payoff (snicker) propulsion concept to one contractor and give the other the airframe challenge.
Before choosing the wrong powerplant/airframe combination because the LEAST PRODUCED version wouldn't work the otherway.
So that WE, collectively, lose on what was never a concept (technology) demonstration but always a production prototyping competition.
And so the literally 'better plane' lost as Boeing met their half of the deal with a 24,000lb machine that was pushed along by 32-34,00lbst
While, Lunchmeat (Baloney Inc.) is still in the process of defrauding the taxpayer on an entirely conventional configuration (lots of time, lots of
fasteners, lots of airframe subassemblies HEAVY) F-35.
As such, the Just So Fracked will never make the grade on STOVL or export-Stealth and that will induce a domino effect failure which means it will
never make the numbers on the CTOL necessary for it to be 'profitably cheap' export fighter in competition with established Rafale/Flubber and
presumably Pak-FA alternatives.
For which you can reasonably thank the Bloody Brits and the All-Rock-Above-Adams-Apple USMC for their obsession with independent naval airpower