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Battle of the X-Planes

Program Overview


NOVA takes you behind the scenes of an intense five-year competition between Boeing and Lockheed Martin to see who will produce a single airplane design—the Joint Strike Fighter—to meet the needs of three U.S. armed forces: the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.

The program:

  • explains the requirements of the Joint Strike Fighter: a low-cost, adaptable design featuring stealth and vertical take-off and landing capabilities.

  • presents the stakes of the competition: a $200 billion contract and the future of fighter aircraft design for the next few decades.

  • focuses on the most demanding engineering challenge: building a practical vertical take-off and landing system.

  • dramatizes the design and manufacturing process of the four demonstration airplanes.

  • demonstrates how much of the design is worked out before assembly with the aid of computers and flight simulators.

  • shows how two very different designs can meet the same criteria.

  • reveals the rigorous flight testing procedure used for the demonstration airplanes.

  • presents the government's evaluation process for choosing the winning design.

Teacher's Guide
Battle of the X-Planes
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