F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter

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F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter from Lockheed Martin is a landmark new combat aircraft for the 21st Century.

A fifth generation fighter, the Lightning II will set new standards in air combat tactics, and revolutionise the reality of warfare, offering superior accuracy, stealth and speed. To be produced in three distinct variants, the Lighting II will enter service with the US and UK Armed Forces within the next few years,: 2,593 aircraft are eventually destined to be supplied.

F-35 Lightning II Strike Fighter in flight Image Courtesy of Lockheed Martin
F-35 Lightning II
F-35 Lightning II Strike Fighter cockpit close-up Image Courtesy of Lockheed Martin
F35 Strike Fighter Cockpit
F-35 Lightning II Strike Fighter take-off Image Courtesy of Lockheed Martin
F35 Strike Fighter

Images Courtesy of Lockheed Martin

F-35 Strike Fighter Production History

The prototype production F-35 first flew on December 15th 2006, 2 days shy of the 103rd anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight. The gulf between those first tentative steps into powered flight, and the awesome F-35 could not be greater. This revolutionary new design is a triumph in technological progression - set to add its own pages to the annals of military history in years to come.

Lockheed Martin's F-35 Design Features

The F-35 provides unprecedented military proficiency in the form of a low maintenance, dependable fighter with a sleek, durable body. This has only been possible through Lockheed Martin's innovative approach, designing the aircraft from first principles as one of the most versatile fighters in the world.

The innovators behind the F-35 comprise some of the most accomplished names in aircraft technology, combining extensive knowledge of aircraft design and construction together with a broad range of different fields and disciplines. Lockheed Martin's sophisticated understanding of stealth and fighter design complements the skills of their colleagues from across the world. Collaborating companies include Rolls-Royce with their comprehensive background in engine design, as well as BAE Systems, Pratt and Whitney and Northrop Grumman. Support Systems are produced by Lockheed Martin, working with the US government's Joint Strike Fighter Office. The F-35 components are assembled in Fort Worth, Texas.

F-35 Design Focus

Northrop Grumman provide detailed knowledge of aircraft and stealth systems. They have participated greatly in the overall design of the aircraft, and have focussed particularly, on the:

  • mission-control software
  • aircraft navigation and communications systems
  • mission support
  • central body-section of the aircraft
  • target tracking system

BAE Systems provide skilled experts in vertical landings and short take-offs as well as additional know-how in aircraft construction and evaluation. They work on the:

  • rear body and tail section
  • Flight planning and recognition systems
  • Aircraft management system
  • Throttle and controls
  • Electronic combat systems

The company also worked on life-support and escape procedures, fuelling systems and health support, as well as compatibility with the new Future Carrier Aircraft Carrier.

F-35 Strike Fighter Variants

The F-35 meets a broad range of requirements by use of a high commonality in layout and design, amended as required for particular missions of the U.K. Navy and Air Force, and the United States Marines, Navy and Air Force.

The F-35 will be manufactured in three variants:

  • The F-35A will be a CTOL (Conventional Takeoff and Landing) aircraft, offering a fast, highly adaptable warplane with rapid acceleration, 9-g handling and agility comparable to the F-16
  • The F-35B will be a STOVL (Short Takeoff - Vertical Landing) aircraft for use in confined spaces, on ships and for rapid deployment near the battleground.
  • The F-35C will be a CV (Carrier Variant) aircraft - a high-ranged, weather-resistant, supersonic warplane, which can be deployed quickly and approach targets from the sea without being detected.

The highly similar designs of the F-35A and F-35B make for attractively affordable operations.

The two engine designs from GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team and , Pratt and Whitney and the Fighter Engine Team are equivalent in both shape and function, across all models of the F-35 and their autonomic information systems.

The two engines provide critical advantages for the F-35 aircraft, benefiting from:

  • Parts and components in common, reducing design and build costs
  • A broader choice of accessories for different purposes
  • Mutual Compatibility with support systems for easy maintenance regardless of the engine being used

The F-35 Fighter plane uses enclosed fuel, weaponry and aerials, smooth edges and specialised materials to provide enhanced stealth and defence. This allows the F-35 to perform reconnaissance and plan its attack whilst remaining undetected.

F-35 Data Collection and Management

The F-35 features sophisticated electronics for collecting and managing information from sensors both on the ground and within the plane. The aircraft carries the most advanced array of sensors that has ever been fitted to a combat aircraft, offering a real-time all-round view of the battle, with comprehensive data customised for the current circumstances, and allowing the pilot to focus on the tactics of battle rather than simply the mechanics of flight.

Lightning II Strike Fighter: Collaborative Combat

The aircraft permit rapid deployment in any circumstances, at any time, in response to any threat. Fighters are highly mobile, allowing them to be deployed as necessary and operate anywhere on the first day of battle, even against advanced and numerous combatants.

Autonomic Logistics Global Sustainment (ALGS)

The aircraft's facility to record and communicate its state of health electronically offers vital benefits for the controllers. The F-35 is an intelligent and durable fighter, featuring an adaptive processing system that monitors and evaluates data to determine the aircraft's condition.

F-35 Global Network of Manufacturers

The broad network of manufacturers allows the fighter to obtain effective maintenance and support, wherever it needs it across the globe. Wherever it is in the world, the fighter has access to maintenance and flight-simulators, parts and components, and expert ground support.

F-35 Design Team Performance Incentives

The F-35 design team have made an ongoing agreement to offer incentives and rewards for engineers to acheve their targets. This should encourage further innovation and attention to detail, maintaining a reliable and effective design.

The design team is committed to maintaining the fighter as a central component in fleets across the globe, far into the new century.

Joint Strike Fighter: Network of Sensors

In the future, it will become increasingly important to collect and process information. The F-35 fighter is the first aircraft to be designed explicitly as an axis in a network of systems collecting and sharing information. Its advanced systems and sensors, together with versatile communication systems and unprecedented data collation procedures make the F-35 a valuable asset for home security and collaborative warfare.

Variants: F-35A CTOL F-35B STOVL F-35C CV
Range (internal fuel): 2,222 km 1,667 km 2,222 km
Combat Radius (internal fuel): 1,093 km 833 km 1,111 km
Length: 15.67 m 15.61 m 15.67 m
Wingspan: 10.67 m 10.67 m 13.11 m
Wing Area: 42.7 m2 42.7 m2 62.06 m2
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