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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Science > Aeronautics > Military > Battle Of The X-Planes (Nova)

Battle Of The X-Planes (Nova)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Main Program: B-



There is talk that in the future, war will no longer need manned airplanes.  There have been spy and drone planes for years, but that this could work for combat all the time is fascinating, though one wonders if that will ever be 100% feasible.  To come up with the next generation manned fighter that might just be the last, Battle of The X-Planes (2003) has two military contractors going at it for an insanely valuable contract to provide that as yet unbuilt vehicle.


The two-hour special can only show so much about the secrets of the final planes, but is generous in giving an idea of their power and functions.  This is the latest installment in the legendary Nova series, which tries to make the most complex science as interesting and accessible as possible.  Fighter planes do not take much to make them interesting.  This may the last chance to see such a competition if this truly is the last manned fighter the United States military will ever need.  At least one model may offer vertical take off, a feature that goes back to the 1960s and before in some fighters, but it will have to be the most advanced version of that technology, which serves as a metaphor for every feature offered.  Add all that up and the vehicle that needs to be delivered is a very tall order, as the saying goes.  That makes Battle of The X-Planes all the more suspenseful.


There is a letterboxed 1.78 X 1/16 X 9 within the 1.33 frame, though information spills past that 16 X 9 area.  The resulting picture is fairly good, but lacks some detail, though this was likely shot in digital HD.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has no real surrounds, though one wishes for them strongly where the planes are concerned.  This could have been the first 5.1 Nova, but that was not to be.  Extras include 3 segments on one of the fighters, two activity sections, printable educational materials and a “Boneyard” (as the case suggests) for older military craft.  That makes for another solid Nova entry.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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