The semifinalists have been chosen for what is expected to be the world’s largest combat aircraft program of the foreseeable future. Three industrial competitors—Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and McDonnell Douglas in conjunction with Northrop Grumman and British Aerospace—were seeking to design and Produce the U.S. joint strike fighter (JSF), until 1996 known as the joint advanced strike technology aircraft. On 16 November 1996, the Department of Defense announced that the McDonnell Douglas team had been dropped from the competition.
The JSF program as currently configured will produce more than 3,000 aircraft for the U.S. Air Force (2,036), Navy (300), and Marine Corps (642), and the Royal Navy (60). In those air arms, the JSF could replace the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle and AV-8B Harrier, General Dynamic's F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-117A stealth strike aircraft, and the British Aerospace Barrier. (Eventual foreign procurement of the JSF also is likely for land-based air forces, especially to replace U.S. F-15 and F16 fighters. The Canadian Air Force in particular is being briefed on the JSF program.)