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  • Lockheed F-35 Lightning II Advanced Multi-Role Strike Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Aircraft


    The Lockheed F-35 Lightning II is set to usher in a new era of flight - that is - if all of the predictions heaped upon the design come to pass.

     Updated: 5/5/2017; Authored By Alan Daniels; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com


    The Lockheed F-35 Lightning II is a fifth-generation fighter development of the United States that incorporates new and learned stealth technology and practices with advanced computer processing and systems through a "budget-friendly" modular approach. The intended project goal (then under the name of Joint Strike Fighter) was to develop a single airframe capable of serving the multiple required roles of the primary armed services within the US Department of Defense - namely the United States Air Force (F-35A), the United States Navy (F-35C) and the United States Marine Corps (F-35B) as well as the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy services (both taking the F-35B model) of the British Ministry of Defense (MoD). The F-35 is currently being developed into three distinct airframes to reflect their respective uses with each design revolving around the same single-engine, single-seat approach. In any of the forms, the F-35 will remain a potent supersonic (Mach 1.0+ capable) fighter with lethal strike capabilities reportedly unmatched by anything else in the modern skies. While the Lockheed F-22 Raptor is intended as a fifth-generation "stealthified" air superiority fighter, the F-35's sorties will center more on the infiltration role and in dealing with accurate ground strikes through use of guided munitions and drop bombs, advanced airborne real-time reconnaissance and in radar-suppression sorties charged with the destruction of enemy "eyes-to-the-skies" - all this while retaining potent air-to-air capabilities.

    If Lockheed succeeds in the design of the STOVL variant (F-35B), the Lightning II will become the first supersonic STOVL fighter ever produced. if the entire F-35 project fulfills all of its intended goals, the Lightning II will be the most advanced fighter design ever and will surely usher in a new age of powered flight.

    The F-35 is intended to be an "affordable" fighter platform, hence the development of one airframe for the three distinct tasks. The aircraft is afforded a complex battlefield management system that allows it to receive and track real-time information and allow the pilot and system to react accordingly while transferring this information to other allied forces. The aircraft is said to provide for easier maintenance, especially in terms of taking care of the sensitive stealth components and skin. Throughout its design, the F-35 has incorporated an array of radar-defeating/absorbing measures that include a specialized mix of construction materials, coatings, angular edges and internally-based antenna probes to minimize profile from any direction.


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    Lockheed F-35A Lightning II Technical Specifications


    Service Year: 2016
    Type: Advanced Multi-Role Strike Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Aircraft
    National Origin: United States
    Manufacturer(s): Lockheed Martin / Northrop Grumman / BAe Systems - USA
    Production Total: 180



    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)


    Operating Crew: 1
    Length: 50.43 feet (15.37 meters)
    Width: 34.94 feet (10.65 meters)
    Height: 17.32 feet (5.28 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 26,455 lb (12,000 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 59,966 lb (27,200 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance


    Engine(s): 1 x Pratt & Whitney F135 F119-PW-100 turbofan developing 40,000 lb thrust with afterburner with General Electric GE F120 alternate core engine.

    Maximum Speed: 1,200 mph (1,931 kph; 1,043 knots)
    Maximum Range: 1,367 miles (2,200 km)
    Service Ceiling: 50,000 feet (15,240 meters; 9.47 miles)

    Armament / Mission Payload


    STANDARD (F-35A):
    1 x 25mm GAU-12/U internal four-barreled cannon

    OPTIONAL (F-35B and F-35C):
    1 x 25mm GAU-12/U cannon in an external pod ("missionized gun").

    OPTIONAL:
    The F-35 series will house all primary armament in an internal weapons bay. However, six optional external pylons will be made available (two of these reserved for AIM-9X Sidewinder support). Mission-specific ordnance can include a combination of the following:

    AIM-9X Sidewinder short-range, air-to-air missiles
    AIM-120B/C AMRAAM medium-range, air-to-air missiles
    AIM-132 ASRAAM air-to-air missiles
    2,000lb GBU-10 Paveway II guided bombs
    2,000lb GBU-24A/B Paveway III guided bombs
    2,000lb GBU-31 JDAM bombs
    2,000lb MK-84 general purpose bombs
    2,000lb MK-84 BSU-50 Ballute general purpose bombs
    2,000lb GBU-31 JDAM bombs
    1,000lb GNU-16 Paveway II guided bombs
    1,000lb MK-83 BLU-110 general purpose bombs
    1,000lb GBU-32 JDAM bombs
    500lb CBU-38 JDAM bombs
    500lb GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs
    500lb MK-82 general purpose bombs
    MK-83 BSU-85 general purpose bombs
    CBU-99/100 Rockeye II cluster bombs
    CBU-103/105 munitions dispenser
    AGM-154 A/C JSOW glide bombs
    Brimstone/Joint Common Missiles
    Phase I SDB (under development)
    Stormshadow cruise missiles
    AGM-158 JASSM missiles
    MXU-648/CNU-88 Baggage Pod
    BDU-57/58/60 laser-guided training round
    MK-76/MK-58/BDU-48
    426-gallon external fuel tanks

    Global Operators / Customers


    Australia (ordered); Denmark (selected); Israel; Italy; Japan; Netherlands; Norway (ordered); South Korea (possible); Turkey (ordered); United Kingdom; United States

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)


    Model 220 - Lockheed-Martin Model Designation of X-35 prototype.

    X-35 - Joint Strike Fighter Program Prototype Designation.

    X-35A - Base conventional take-off fighter prototype.

    X-35B - STOVL prototype.

    X-35C - Navalized prototype.

    F-35A - Initial Production Variant; principle use by USAF; base export model; internal 25mm cannon; conventional take-off and landing.

    F-35B - STOVL variant principally for USMC, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy; integrated lift-fan; external 25mm gun pod; decreased payload capacity.

    F-35C - Navalized variant for carrier take-off and arrestor landings; reinforced internal structure and undercarriage; arrestor hook; increased control surfaces; folding wings for carrier storage.

    F-35 Block 2B - Sans internal gun and external weapons support; fielded by single USMC squadron; availability in 2015.

    F-35 Block 3i - Similar to Block 2B with added support for GBU-31 ordnance; updated processor unit; availability in 2016.

    F-35 Block 3F - Internal gun support as well as external weapons support; U.S. Navy and export standardized production model; availability in 2018-2019.

    F-35 Block 4 - Planned software upgrades across Block 4.1 through Block 4.4; availability for mid-2025.