For nearly 16 years, the US Navy’s future aircraft fleet had been set in stone. In 2001, the US Defense Department had settled the debate over which contractor would go on to build the Joint Strike Fighter, the jet that would meet the high-end fight for the US Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. Once Lockheed Martin’s F-22-derived X-35 beat Boeing’s X-32, with its cheerful chin-mounted air intake that garnered the aircraft the saucy nickname “the Monica,” the three services appeared married to the jet.
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