Although not operational yet, the F-35 is already being planned for exports to countries from the United Kingdom to Singapore.
The F-35 appears to be a smaller, slightly more conventional, one-engine sibling of the sleeker, two-engine F-22 Raptor, and indeed, drew elements from it. The exhaust duct design was inspired by the General Dynamics Model 200, a 1972 VTOL aircraft designed for the Sea Control Ship.
Lockheed teamed with the Yakovlev Design Bureau, developer of the Yakovlev Yak-141 "Freestyle", in the 1990s.
Stealth technology makes the aircraft hard to detect as it approaches short-range tracking radar.
Some improvements over current-generation fighter aircraft are:
- Durable, low-maintenance stealth technology;
- Integrated avionics and sensor fusion that combine information from off- and onboard sensors to increase the pilot's situational awareness and improve identification and weapon delivery, and to relay information quickly to other command and control (C2) nodes;
- High speed data networking including IEEE-1394b and Fibre Channel.
- Low life-cycle costs.
Although the F-35 has not experienced any combat as it is not operational yet, it has been thorugh extensive testing and is still under developemnt.
- On 19 February 2006, the first F-35A (USAF version) was rolled out in Fort Worth, Texas. The aircraft underwent extensive ground testing at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base in fall 2006. On 15 September 2006 the first engine run of the F135 afterburning turbofan was conducted in an airframe, with the tests completed on 18 September after a static run with full afterburner. The engine runs were the first time that the F-35 was completely functional on its own power systems. On 15 December 2006, the F-35 completed its maiden flight.
- On 3 May 2007, an electrical problem consisting of electrical arcing inside a hydraulic control box forced the aircraft to make an emergency landing. It was grounded until 7 December, when test pilot Jon Beesley flew a 55-minute test flight.
- On 31 January 2008 at Fort Worth, Texas, Lt. Col. James "Flipper" Kromberg of the U.S. Air Force became the first military service pilot to evaluate the F-35, taking the aircraft through a series of maneuvers on its 26th flight.
- On 12 March 2008, the first F-35A (AA-1) began aerial refueling testing on its 34th test flight.
- F-35A Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL)
- F-35B Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL)
- F-35C Carrier Variant
- F-35I Israeli variant
- Crew: 1
- Length: 50 ft 6 in (15.37 m)
- Wingspan: 35 ft 0 in (10.65 m)
- Height: 17 ft 4 in (5.28 m)
- Wing area: 459.6 ft² (42.7 m²)
- Empty weight: A; 29,036 lb B; 32,161 lb C; 32,070 lb (13,170 kg A; 14,588 kg B; 14547 kg C;)
- Loaded weight: 44,400 lb (20,100 kg)
- Max takeoff weight: 60,000 lb (27,200 kg)
- Powerplant: 1× Pratt & Whitney F135 afterburning turbofan
- Dry thrust: 25,000 lbf (111 kN)
- Thrust with afterburner: 40,000+ lbf (178+ kN)
- Secondary Powerplant: 1× General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136 afterburning turbofan, >40,000 lbf (178 kN) [in development]
- Lift fan (STOVL): 1× Rolls-Royce Lift System driven from either F135 or F136 power plant, 18,000 lbf (80 kN)
- Internal fuel: F-35A: 18,480 lb (8,382 kg); F-35B: 14,003 lb (6,352 kg); F-35C: 20,085 lb (9,110 kg)
- Maximum speed: Mach 1.6+ (1,200 mph, 1,931 km/h)
- Range: A: 1,200 nmi; B: 900 nmi; C: 1400 nmi (A: 2,200 km; B: 1,667 km; C: 2,593 km) on internal fuel
- Combat radius: 600 nmi (690 mi, 1,110 km)
- Rate of climb: classified (not publicly available)
- Wing loading: 91.4 lb/ft² (446 kg/m²)
- With full fuel: A: 0.89; B: 0.92; C: 0.81
- With 50% fuel: A: 1.12; B: 1.10; C: 1.01
- F-35A: 9 g
- F-35B: 9 g
- F-35C: 9 g
- Guns: 1 × GAU-22/A 25 mm cannon — slated to be mounted internally with 180 rounds in the F-35A and fitted as an external pod with 220 rounds in the F-35B and F-35C.
- Hardpoints: 6 with a capacity of 15,000 lb (6,800 kg),
- Missiles: Internal: 2 air-air missiles and 2 air-surface weapons; External: 2 missiles and 4 missiles/bombs.