The U.S. Defense Department has let the public take a look at its new F-111?
The U.S. Defense Department has let the public take a look at its new F-111 fighter plane which is designed to serve the needs of Army, Navy and Marine Corps.
The most striking feature of the new warplane is its variable sweep wing.
When the wing is fully extended, at almost right angles to the fuselage, the plane can fly slowly at about 100 miles an hour, enabling it to take off and land on very short runaways.
But when the wing is swept back sharply, the 72-foot long fighter bomber can cruise at high speed -- up to 1850 miles an hour, while carrying a full load of conventional or nuclear weapons.
When it was in its development stage, the F-111 was known as the TFX and was the subject of the sharpest kind of controversy. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara over-ruled Pentagon recommendations and awarded the contract to the Convair Division of General Dynamics, Forth Worth, Texas, instead of to the Boeing Company, Seattle, Washington. There were charges that President Johnson wanted the plane built in his home state. A U.S. Senate investigation of how the contract was let has never been concluded.
Twenty-three prototypes have been ordered at a cost of more than 500,000,000 dollars. If they fly as well as expected, the final production may run as high as 1,700 planes and cost almost 7,000,000,000 dollars.