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From what I've heard, the fact that the X-35 looked cooler than the X-32 was a non trivial component of it being selected in the JSF program.

And why not? With the multitude of ground based missiles fielded today, a considerable part of the role of fighter aircraft is status. Imagine a programme as expensive as the F-35 that resulted in a plane so ugly that you'd want to hide it. It would be objectively worse at projecting power without actually fighting it out even if it had slightly better performance characteristics.

Oh sure, I'm not expressing judgement.

Given a volunteer military, and remembering their advertising in high school, they probably want people to feel as cool as possible joining up too.

That's a damn shame because the X-32 is easily one of the world's cutest airplanes.

Delivering death with a smile.

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