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Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is scheduled to be introduced in 2011. It was a descendant of the X-35, which was the product of the Joint Strike Fighter Program (J.S.F.). Once operational, it will replace the U.S.M.C.'s McDonnel Douglas AV-8B Harrier II. The reason is the F-35 is capable of V/STOL, which stands for Vertical/Short Take-off and Landing. In addition to that, the F-35 is capable of stealth, which is a very valuable capability.

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.

Operational History...

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.
A unique feature of the test program is the use of the so-called Lockheed CATBird avionic testbed, a highly modified Boeing 737-330, inside of which are racks holding all of F-35's avionics, as well as a complete F-35 cockpit.
  • 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)

Intended for the USAF and other air forces, the F-35A is the smallest, lightest, and most agile variant. It is also the only one equipped with an internal cannon (GAU-22/A). It is expected that the F-35A will match and outperform the F-16 in almost all expects and is intended for replacing the Fighting Falcon (F-16).

  • F-35B Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL)

Intended for the USMC, the F-35B sacrifices some fuel volume for its vertical takeoff system. It is also less maneuverable than the A variant, being stressed to 7 g's instead of the 9 for the F-35A. Since the F-35B has a vertical landing system, it does not have a landing hook. This aircraft will replace all F/A-18 Hornets and the attack and fighter roles of the AV-8B Harrier II, in the Marine Corp inventory.

  • F-35C Carrier Variant

The F-35C features a lager wing that has the ability to fold (save space on aircraft carrier). This larger surface area for the wing will improve low speed control and decreases speed for landings while also increasing range and payload.The F-35C also has a strong landing gear for the stresses of carrier landings and a landing hook for carrier arrestor cables. The F-35C is intended to replace all F/A-18 Hornets A/B/C/D and serve as a low observable complement to th F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

  • F-35I Israeli variant

The F-35I is an F-35A with Israeli modifications. Since this is so, the letter designation is I (for Israel).


Data from Lockheed Martin specifications (1, 2, 3) , F-35 Program brief, F-35 JSF Statistics (Download)

General Characteristics
  • 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)
  • Thrust/weight:
  • With full fuel: A: 0.89; B: 0.92; C: 0.81
  • With 50% fuel: A: 1.12; B: 1.10; C: 1.01
  • g-Limits
  • 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.

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