Some comments on the thread about the general and the tanker got me thinking. When the Air Force must choose between two aircraft for a production contract, should it always pick the uglier of the two aircraft? If that were the sole criterion, wouldn't we save a lot of time and money? Just take 20 minutes, decide which is uglier, and choose that one. It works most of the time.

Let's see now.

B-52 versus B-60:

They chose what must have seemed at the time to be the uglier aircraft and it was the right choice by leaps and bounds. It was a no-brainer that could have been decided in 20 minutes.

A-10 versus A-9:

They chose the uglier aircraft and it was also the right choice.

F-16 versus F-17:

They chose the uglier aircraft (although we've subsequently become accustomed to its proboscis). It was the wrong choice, the other aircraft was better, and after some re-jiggling the other aircraft evolved into the F/A-18A Hornet, albeit with shortened legs.

F-15E versus F-16XL

They chose the prettier aircraft and it really wasn't even a close contest. This is an exception to the rule that ugly is good. They could have made this decision in 20 minutes instead of over several weeks.

HH-60E versus HH-60G:

Well, they both look pretty ugly but the E model had far greater capabilities so they made the wrong choice.

X-32 versus X-35:

This is where they slipped up. The X-32 was not only uglier, it may be the ugliest aircraft ever designed, which is evidence that it's got to be better. But they chose the X-35 to become the F-35 and look at the mess we're in. Proof that ugly wins every time. Almost.

AT-6 versus A-29

Along with the F-15E this is the second exception to the rule. They chose the prettier aircraft and it is also the right aircraft. This was another no-brainer where it was no contest. They could have made this decision in 20 minutes yet this program has been evolving over six years, they've chosen the A-29 twice now, and the Fat Lady hasn't sung yet. And ironically, although they chose an excellent aircraft they chose it for a job that doesn't need to be done.

KC-45 versus KC-46:

Well, they look similar. But the KC-45 is slightly prettier. They chose the better aircraft. Then it got canceled. Then they chose the worse aircraft. This was another no-brainer where it was no contest. It wasn't even close and could have been decided in 20 minutes instead of 14 years. And, in the end, they chose the wrong plane.

F-117 versus Northrop XSL:

Let's not go there.

Your thoughts?