Battle of the X Planes

About the Show

In this fascinating documentary, NOVA goes behind scenes to watch the world’s newest fighter jet taking shape, as two aviation giants compete to win the largest contract in military history. From 1996 to 2001, Lockheed Martin and Boeing produced rival designs and prototypes for the joint strike fighter - a stealthy, affordable, combat plane intended for the 21st-century needs of the US military.

The contract would be the largest ever awarded by the American government, estimated at one trillion dollars. NOVA was allowed into both camps for the full five years, with unprecedented access to the pentagon and the first ever inside look at a department of defence weapons competition. And a complex contest it is, as the joint strike fighter must meet the disparate needs of three different services - air force, navy and marines. The last time something like this was attempted, in the form of the F-111, it was widely regarded as a disaster, so the pressure is definitely on.

NOVA follows the trials and tribulations of this neck-and-neck design war, offering a unique perspective on every phase of the competition, from design and assembly through to the thrilling test flights that eventually lead to one triumphant victory.

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