Boeing X-32Image source: nationalinterest.org
At the end of the Cold War, the United States proposed a joint fighter project to revamp the Department of Defence’s military aircraft. The 1993’s Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter Project featured several companies competing for the best stealth attack aircraft design.
Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and Boeing’s X-32 were the two finalists.
The Unites States government afforded both companies $750 million to manufacture their designs. The prototypes from both companies performed at similar levels, but Boeing’s X-32 was criticized for its appearance and inability to hover. Lockheed Martin won the competition and received the $200 billion dollar contract with the Department of Defence.
Boeing built two prototypes, one for take-off and the other for supersonic demonstrations. Boeing planned to combine these two versions into one, but many felt that decision cost them the competition. After the loss, the X-32 prototypes faded into obscurity. They’re now mounted as relics in museums. Boeing believes this endeavour wasn’t a complete waste. They claim it was an investment that cultivated technology they implemented in other projects.