Boeing submitted 3 different concepts for the 1982 AF RFI: 2 fighters and 1 strike aircraft, or Air To Surface (ATS) fighter. All featured twin vertical fins and vectored thrust. Concept 7 was for a fighter of around 52,000 lbs employing a canard layout. This was developed in house as Models 908 and 985. It featured a wing of considerable aspect ratio: a relatively slender and wide spanned wing for a supersonic fighter. This concept would have excelled in the transonic regime during high alpha manoevuring, as well as subsonic transit range, but it is hard to see how it could have been pushed to high Mach numbers with such a wide span. It was certainly one of the more handsome looking concepts when viewed directly from the side. Concept 8 was for a more conventionally laid out canard high performance fighter featuring a double delta wing. It was projected to weigh 57,168 lbs. Concept 15 was for an ATS fighter employing a variable geometry (swing) main wing in a similar manner to the F-111, but with the wing positioned at the bottom of the fuselage rather than above, like the F-111. It is hard to envision how this layout would have been practical, because the space required for the wing when folded would have empinged on that normally reserved for the main undercarriage. 


Model 908-833

As the ATF programme began to gain momentum, aircraft manufacturers began to release artist's impressions of what the aircraft could possibly look like to the press. These paintings were deliberately dumbed down to throw off attention from the real configurations the manufacturer was considering. These are Boeing's contributions: the first was for a fighter and the second for a strike aircraft.


artist's impression of a theoretical ATF

This was Boeing's final submission for the actual ATF programme in 1986. Even though Boeing had not built a fighter for the Air Force for many years, they demonstrated great expertice with this design. It employed what was a very advanced air intake for the time, which used careful shaping of the front of the throat combined with a reverse rakeback on the intake lip to shed boundary layer air. Because of the slight bulge in the throat, air pressure from the faster bulk air forced boundary layer air to the sides, which was then dumped overboard without the use of any slots or perforated vents. The simplicity and elegance of this solution reduced component count and made for a very stealthy design, free of the normal cavities associated with boundary layer removal. This method has since been employed on the Lockheed F-35 JSF. The sacrifice of this solution was that bulk air may have been disturbed by the forward jutting lip during high angles of attack. The overall configuration that Boeing settled on shows that they understood the concept of stealth well: the layout is very similar to the YF-23, employing a V-tail as well. The exhaust is shrouded just like the YF-23. The only differences are that while the YF-23 was fundamentally triolithic in volume, this was monolithic, and the angle of the trailing edge alignment is different compared to the leading edge. The pilot sits high with a commanding view of the battle situation. This was an excellent effort and it is difficult to see why General Dynamics scored ahead of Boeing.


Last updated October 2011.

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