new generation fighter...
The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) originated
in the early 1990s through the restructure and integration of several
DoD tactical aircraft and technology initiatives already underway. The
DoD goal was to use the latest technology in a common family of aircraft
to meet the future strike requirements of the Services and US Allies.
In 1993, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency executed a
program to develop a supersonic Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL)
aircraft as a replacement for the AV-8B Harrier. At about the same time,
the Department of Defense (DoD) considered canceling the Navy's Advanced
Attack/Fighter (A/F-X) that was being studied to fill the void left
after the cancellation of the General Dynamics/McDonnell Douglas A-12
Avenger II aircraft being designed for the U.S. Navy.
Senior leadership at the Pentagon suggested a Joint Attack Fighter (JAF)
to replace the Navy's A/F-X program. Not only would the JAF be much
cheaper than the A/F-X, it would also be designed with a common airframe
suitable to the three services. It was believed that such an aircraft
would herald significant manufacturing and operational cost savings.
Much of the philosophy surrounding the JAF would later be incorporated
into JAST, such as its single-engine design and its unprecedented level
The Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) Program was initiated in
late 1993 as a result of the DoD Bottom-Up-Review (BUR). The major
tactical aviation results of the BUR were to continue the ongoing F-22
and F/A-18E/F programs, cancel the Multi-Role Fighter (MRF) and the
A/F-X programs, curtail F-16 and F/A-18C/D procurement and initiate the
The JAST program office was established on 27 January 1994. Its mission
was to define and develop aircraft, weapon, and sensor technology that
would support the future development of tactical aircraft. The program
subsequently moved from a broad, all-encompassing program to one that
would develop a common family of aircraft to replace several aging US
and UK aircraft.
By the end of 1994, the JAST program had absorbed the DARPA Common
Affordable Lightweight Fighter (CALF) program. CALF, then renamed ALF,
became the primary focus of JAST. However, JAST was also considering
modifying the CTOL versions of the aircraft to perform in a STOVL role.
Congress subsequently mandated the merger of JAST with the DARPA
Advanced Short Take-Off / Vertical Landing program. As JAST was already
considering STOVL variants, this merger was accommodated with
comparatively little disruption. The JAST Program initially explored a
wide range of potential strike warfare concepts using six-month, Concept
Exploration (CE) study contracts awarded in May 1994. The findings of
the CE studies showed that a "tri-service family" of aircraft was the
most affordable solution to the collective joint-service needs. The
tri-service family would entail a single basic airframe design with
three distinct variants: Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) for
the U.S. Air Force to complement the F-22 Raptor and replace the aging
F-16 Fighting Falcon and the A-10 Thunderbolt; Short Take-Off/Vertical
Landing (STOVL) for the U.S. Marine Corps to replace both the AV-8B
Harrier and the F/A-18 C/D Hornet; and a Carrier (CV) variant for the
U.S. Navy to complement the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet.
Following numerous trade studies, two critical decisions were made: the
JAST family of aircraft would be single-crew and single-engine. Navy
attack/fighter aircraft have been preferred to have two engines in case
one is lost during flight. The choice of a single-crew aircraft was
accepted - subject to continued studies and appropriate technology
maturation - on the projection that a single crewmember could perform
all of the intended missions.
Boeing, Lockheed Martin, McDonnell Douglas, and Northrop Grumman were
each awarded fifteen-month Concept Definition and Design Research (CDDR)
contracts in December 1994. Northrop Grumman and McDonnell
Douglas/British Aerospace teamed shortly after the CDDR contracts were
awarded. The contractors refined their Preferred Weapons System Concept
(PWSC) designs and performed a number of risk reduction activities
(e.g., wind tunnel tests, powered-model STOVL tests, and engineering
In the spring of 1995, all three of the contractor teams selected
derivatives of the Pratt & Whitney (P&W) F119 engine to power their
aircraft. Accordingly, in November 1995, P&W was awarded a contract for
preliminary design of each of the primary JSF engine concepts.
Concurrently, General Electric was awarded a contract to investigate
whether the GE F110 or YF120 could be developed into an alternate engine
for one or more of the JSF variants. In 1996, the YF120 was identified
as the "best fit" for a tri-service solution and GE initiated
preliminary design efforts.
Several Defense Acquisition Board (DAB)-level program reviews were
conducted in late 1995. The final Requests for Proposal (RFP) were
issued to the contractors in March 1996. By that time the JAST program
name had changed to Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
In May 1996, JSF was designated an Acquisition Category I, DoD
acquisition program. In June, the weapon system prime contractors
submitted their Concept Demonstration Phase (CDP) proposals. A formal
Milestone I Acquisition Decision Memorandum was signed by the Under
Secretary of Defense (Acquisition & Technology) on 15 November 1996,
clearing the way for the award of CDP prime contracts to Boeing and
Lockheed Martin on 16 November 1996.
Today, the JSF program is nearing the end of the CDP. Once the aircraft
have completed their flight test programs and the JSF Program Office has
had the opportunity to review the proposals from Boeing and Lockheed
Martin, a single contractor will be awarded the Engineering &
Manufacturing Development (EMD) contract to begin developing and
producing the Joint Strike Fighter for the U.S. and its allies. The U.S.
Air Force will be the largest JSF customer, purchasing 1763 CTOL
aircraft. The U.S. Marine Corps is expected to purchase 609 STOVL
aircraft, and the U.S. Navy about 480 CV aircraft. The U.K. Royal Air
Force and Royal Navy will purchase 150 of the STOVL variant.