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Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)
Role: multi-role strike fighter
Builder: Lockheed Martin
Variants: F-35A, F-35B, F-35C
Operators: USAF, US Navy, US Marine Corps,
Royal Navy/Royal Air Force (UK)
(Netherlands, Turkey, Italy, Israel, Australia)
The F-35 will be the result from the Joint Strike Fighter program. The aim of the program
is to develop an affordable next generation stealth strike aircraft for the US Air Force, US Navy,
US Marine Corps and the United Kingdom as well as other US allies. The program enables various
forms of participation for the candidate export countries, ranging from 'informed partner' to
'major participant'. Boeing and Lockheed Martin were the two competitors in the Concept
Development Phase (CDP). The Boeing Corp. designed and built the X-32 prototype and the Lockheed
Martin team developed the X-35. The X-35 concept by Lockheed Martin was selected as the winner
and the program has now entered the Systems Development Demonstration (SDD) phase of the JSF program.
Lockheed Martin leads a development team including Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, and Pratt & Whitney.
Lockheed Martin brings in advanced technology experience, stealth technology and other technologies
and experience which it has gained during F-22 research and development. Northrop Grumman
offers tactical aircraft knowledge, stealth technology and carrier suitability. BAE System
provides expertise and experience with short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) technology as well
as advanced subcontract management. Pratt & Whitney is the builder of the engine which will power
the JSF which is based on the F-119 turbojet from the F-22.
To forfill the demands of the main contractors three different variants are developed. All
versions will have a common structure and have the same fuselage and internal weapons bay. They
will all three be powered by a F-119 modified engine. All variants will carry the standard
The F-35A is the standard variant with conventional take off and landing developed
for the US Air Force, the biggest JSF customer. The F-35A will replace the
F-16 and the A-10 aircraft currently operated by the USAF. The F-35A will probably also be the
most exported variant. Possible export countries for the F-35A include all current
F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-4 Phantom, F/A-18 Hornet operators, such as the Netherlands,
Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Turkey, Greece, Israel, Australia, etcetera.
The F-35B is the STOVL variant of the JSF. The F-119 is modified using the experience
of BAE Systems based on the Rolls-Royce Pegasus engine from the AV-8 Harrier. Unlike the Air Force
variant the F-35B carries no internal gun and the air refuelling probe is located on the right
side of the forward fuselage instead of receptacle on the top surface of the aircraft. The main customers
for the F-35B will be the USMC to replace the F/A-18 Hornet ands the AV-8B Harrier IIs and the United Kingdom
to replace the Royal Air Force/Royal Navy combined Harrier force of Sea Harriers and GR.7s.
Other future customers can include Spain and Italy which also operate the Harrier.
The F-35C is a modified design which enables the JSF to operate from aircraft carriers
using conventional carrier landings and capapult take off. The F-35C internal structure
and landing gear have been strengthened to handle the loads associated with catapult
launches and arrested carrier landings. It has a larger
wing area than other JSF types with larger control surfaces for better low speed handling. Like the
F-35B is has a refuelling probe instead of a receptacle.
The US Navy will be the biggest customer of this variant. The F-35C will complement
the US Navy fleet of F/A-18E/F fighters by replacing the F/A-18 A+ and C
Hornet currently in service.
Future variants might include two seat trainers of each variant and possible modifications
for export customers.
X-32 and X-35 prototypes
First Flight of the X-35
X-35A ready to refuel
X-35B STOVL in hover