While reading some of the comments about the F-35 and how it will not solve the US Navy's problem regarding distance/deep strike, its become obvious to me that some are forgetting about an important part of our nation's naval aviation history....The cancellation of the ALL ASPECT Stealth A-12 Avenger II. via Wikipedia...
The United States Navy began the Advanced Tactical Aircraft (ATA) program in 1983. The program was to develop and field a replacement for the A-6 Intruder by 1994. Stealth technology developed for the United States Air Force would be used heavily in the program. Concept design contracts were awarded to the industry teams of McDonnell Douglas/General Dynamics, and Northrop/Grumman/Vought in November 1984. The teams were awarded contracts for further concept development in 1986.The A-6 was the long range strike platform of choice for the US Navy. The A-12 was to be its replacement and IF it had succeeded we would see a Navy much better positioned to handle the anti-access threat we're facing today. From the same entry...
The McDonnell Douglas/General Dynamics team was selected as the winner on 13 January 1988, the rival team led by Grumman surprisingly failed to submit a final bid. The McDonnell Douglas/General Dynamics team was awarded a development contract and the ATA aircraft was designated A-12. The first flight was initially planned for December 1990. The A-12 was named Avenger II in homage to the World War II-era Navy torpedo-bomber Grumman TBF Avenger.
The Navy initially sought to buy 620 A-12s and Marines wanted 238. In addition, the Air Force briefly considered ordering some 400 of an A-12 derivative. The A-12 was promoted as a possible replacement for the Air Force's General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark, and for the United Kingdom's Panavia Tornado fighter-bombers. The craft was a flying wing design in the shape of an isosceles triangle, with the cockpit situated near the apex of the triangle. The A-12 gained the nickname "Flying Dorito".
The A-12 I did terminate. It was not an easy decision to make because it's an important requirement that we're trying to fulfill. But no one could tell me how much the program was going to cost, even just through the full scale development phase, or when it would be available. And data that had been presented at one point a few months ago turned out to be invalid and inaccurate."Long story short?
Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, 1991.
The A-12 was the right airplane at the wrong time.