BOEING AND LOCKHEED are discussing teaming on the US Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) programme, despite developing radically different solutions to the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) requirement which makes up part of the effort.

Boeing is studying a direct-lift design, while Lockheed is pursuing a shaft-driven lift-fan concept. Both were being developed for the US Advanced Research Project Agency's X-32 project.

This was known as the common affordable lightweight fighter advanced STOVL (ASTOVL) effort, which was absorbed into the JAST programme under Congressional pressure.

Boeing Military Airplanes director of advanced tactical-aircraft programmes Mickey Michellich says: "Lockheed and Boeing are examining teaming on the JAST programme. A final decision on teaming has not been made at this time."

Programme sources say that talks are being held up over the issue of prime contractorship.

It is also unknown which of the two concepts would be adopted by the combined team, although it is feasible that both current concepts could be offered.

McDonnell Douglas (MDC) is already teamed with British Aerospace and Northrop Grumman on several JAST contracts to have been awarded recently.

They decline to comment on the possibility of extending these agreement to include their separate submissions for the ASTOVL demonstrator competition, however.

Under the revised JAST programme, it is envisaged that two teams will be selected to "fly-off" two demonstrators each.

Pratt & Whitney is aligned with the Boeing and Lockheed bids on the engine front. A possible MDC-Northrop Grumman team would have the additional difficulty of choosing between General Electric (teamed with MDC) and P&W (with Northrop Grumman). Rolls-Royce is linked to all four projects.

The eventual aim of the combined JAST/ASTOVL effort is to make a fully modular series of tactical aircraft to replace a wide variety of types in US and allied service. The JAST programme office hopes that a common production line will be established.


Source: Flight International