Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Airplane Videos and Airplane Pictures

F-35 Lightning Videos

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Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

Airplane Pictures - Living Warbirds: Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II 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)
Maximum speed: Mach 1.6+ (1,200 mph, 1,931 km/h)
Range: A: 1,200 nmi; B: 900 nmi; C: ;1,200 nmi
Combat radius: A: ;590 nmi; B: ;450 nmi; C: ;600 nmi
Rate of climb: Classified

Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Aircraft Information

F-35 Lightning Video - Compilation of F-35 testing videos

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a fifth-generation, single-seat, single-engine, stealth-capable military strike fighter, a multirole aircraft that can perform close air support, tactical bombing, and air superiority fighter missions. The F-35 has three different models; one is the conventional takeoff and landing variant, the second is short takeoff and vertical-landing variant, and the third is a carrier-based variant.

The F-35 is descended from the X-35, the product of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. Its development is being principally funded by the United States, with the United Kingdom, and other partner governments providing additional funding. It is being designed and built by an aerospace industry team led by Lockheed Martin with Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems as major partners. Demonstrator aircraft flew in 2000, with the first flight on 15 December 2006.

JSF Program history


The JSF program was created to replace various aircraft while keeping development, production, and operating costs down. This was pursued by building three variants of one aircraft, sharing 80% of their parts:

- F-35A, conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant.
- F-35B, short-takeoff and vertical-landing (STOVL) variant.
- F-35C, carrier-based (CV) variant.

The F-35 is being designed to be the world's premier strike aircraft through 2040. It is intended that its close and long-range air-to-air capability will be second only to that of the F-22 Raptor. Specifically the F-35’s requirements are that it be: four times more effective than legacy fighters in air-to-air combat, eight times more effective in air-to-ground battle combat, and three times more effective in reconnaissance and suppression of air defenses. These capabilities are to be achieved while still having significantly better range and require less logistics support than legacy aircraft.

Origins and selection

Airplane Pictures - The F-35A being towed to its inauguration ceremony on 7 July 2006

(Image: The F-35A being towed to its inauguration ceremony on 7 July 2006)

The Joint Strike Fighter evolved out of several requirements for a common fighter to replace existing types. The actual JSF development contract was signed on 16 November 1996.

The contract for System Development and Demonstration (SDD) was awarded on 26 October 2001 to Lockheed Martin, whose X-35 beat the Boeing X-32. DoD officials and British Minister of Defence Procurement Lord Bach, said the X-35 consistently outperformed the X-32, although both met or exceeded requirements. The designation of the fighter as "F-35" came as a surprise to Lockheed, which had been referring to the aircraft in-house by the designation "F-24".

Design phase

The F-35 was in danger of missing performance requirements in 2004 because it weighed too much — reportedly, by 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg) or 8 percent. In response, Lockheed Martin added engine thrust and shed more than a ton by thinning the aircraft's skin; shrinking the weapons bay and vertical tails; rerouting some thrust from the roll-post outlets to the main nozzle; and redesigning the wing-mate joint, portions of the electrical system, and the portion of the aircraft immediately behind the cockpit.

On 7 July 2006, the U.S. Air Force officially announced the name of the F-35: Lightning II, in honor of Lockheed's World War II-era twin-prop P-38 Lightning and the Cold War-era jet, the English Electric Lightning. English Electric Company's aircraft division was incorporated into BAC, a predecessor of F-35 partner BAE Systems. Other names previously listed as contenders were Kestrel, Phoenix, Piasa, Black Mamba and Spitfire II. Lightning II was also an early company name for the aircraft that became the F-22 Raptor.


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 difficult 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.


The F-35 features a full-panel-width "panoramic cockpit display (PCD)", with dimensions of 20 by 8 inches (50 by 20 centimeters). A cockpit speech-recognition system (Direct Voice Input) is planned to improve the pilot's ability to operate the aircraft over the current-generation. The F-35 will be the first U.S. operational fixed-wing aircraft to use this system, although similar systems have been used in AV-8B and trialled in previous U.S. jets, particularly the F-16 VISTA. In development the system has been integrated by Adacel Systems Inc with the speech recognition module supplied by SRI International.

A helmet mounted display system (HMDS) will be fitted to all models of the F-35. While some fourth-generation fighters (such as the Swedish JAS 39 Gripen) have offered HMDS along with a head up display (HUD), this will be the first time in several decades that a front-line tactical jet fighter has been designed to not carry a HUD.

The pilot flies the aircraft by means of a right-hand side-stick and left-hand throttle, both of which are supplied by BAE Systems.

The Martin-Baker US16E ejection seat is used in all F-35 variants. The US16E seat design balances major performance requirements, including safe terrain clearance limits, pilot load limits, and pilot size. It uses a twin-catapult system that is housed in side-rails.


Airplane Pictures - EOTS under the nose of a mockup of the F-35

(Image: EOTS under the nose of a mockup of the F-35)

The main sensor on board the F-35 is its AN/APG-81 AESA-radar, designed by Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems. It is augmented by the Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) mounted under the nose of the aircraft, designed by Lockheed Martin and BAE. Further electro-optical sensors are distributed over the aircraft as part of the AN/AAS-37 system which acts as missile warning system and can aid in navigation and night operations.


Two different jet engines are being developed for the F-35; the Pratt & Whitney F135 and the General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136. The STOVL versions of both powerplants use the innovative Rolls-Royce LiftSystem, patented by Lockheed Martin and built by Rolls-Royce. This system is more like the Russian Yak-141 and German VJ 101D/E than the preceding generation of STOVL designs, such as the Harrier Jump Jet.

Airplane Pictures - The F135 engine with lift fan, roll posts, and rear vectoring nozzle, as designed for the F-35B, at the Paris Air Show, 2007

(Image: The F135 engine with lift fan, roll posts, and rear vectoring nozzle, as designed for the F-35B, at the Paris Air Show, 2007)

The LiftSystem is composed of a lift fan, driveshaft, clutch, 2 roll posts and a "3 Bearing Swivel Module" (3BSM). The 3BSM is a thrust vectoring nozzle which allows the main engine exhaust to be deflected downward at the tail of the aircraft. The lift fan near the front of the aircraft provides a counter-balancing thrust. Somewhat like a vertically mounted turboprop within the forward fuselage, the lift fan is powered by the engine's low-pressure (LP) turbine via a driveshaft and gearbox. Roll control during slow flight is achieved by diverting pressurized air from the LP turbine through wing mounted thrust nozzles called Roll Posts.

The F-35B lift fan achieves the same 'flow multiplier' effect as the Harrier's huge, but supersonically impractical, main fan. Like lift engines, this added machinery is just deadweight during horizontal flight but provides a net increase in payload capacity during vertical flight. The cool exhaust of the fan also reduces the amount of hot, high-velocity air that is projected downward during vertical takeoff (which can damage runways and aircraft carrier decks). Though complicated and potentially risky, the lift system has been made to work to the satisfaction of DOD officials.


The F-35 includes a GAU-22/A four-barrel 25 mm cannon. The Cannon will 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.

Airplane Pictures - The first of 15 pre-production F-35s

(Image: The first of 15 pre-production F-35s)

Internally (current planned weapons for integration), up to two air-to-air missiles and two air-to-ground weapons (up to two 2,000 lb bombs in A and C models; two 1,000 lb bombs in the B model) in the bomb bays. These could be AIM-120 AMRAAM, AIM-132 ASRAAM, the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) — up to 2,000 lb (910 kg), the Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW), Small Diameter Bombs (SDB) — a maximum of four in each bay, the Brimstone anti-armor missiles, Cluster Munitions (WCMD) and High Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM). The MBDA Meteor air-to-air missile is currently being adapted to fit internally in the missile spots and may be integrated into the F-35. The UK had originally planned to put up to four AIM-132 ASRAAM internally but this has been changed to carry 2 internal and 2 external ASRAAMs. It has also been stated by a Lockheed executive that the internal bay will eventually be modified to accept up to 6 AMRAAMs

At the expense of being more detectable by radar, many more missiles, bombs and fuel tanks can be attached on four wing pylons and two wingtip positions. The two wingtip pylons can only carry AIM-9X Sidewinders, while the AIM-120 AMRAAM, Storm Shadow, Joint Air to Surface Stand-off Missile (JASSM) cruise missiles and 480 gallon fuel tanks can be carried in addition to the stores already integrated. An air-to-air load of eight AIM-120s and two AIM-9s is conceivable using internal and external weapons stations, as well as a configuration of six two thousand pound bombs, two AIM-120s and two AIM-9s. With its payload capability, the F-35 can carry more air to air and air to ground weapons than legacy fighters it is to replace as well as the F-22 Raptor.

Concerns over performance

Some public figures such as conservative politician Dennis Jensen in Australia, and American combat aircraft expert Pierre Sprey, have expressed concern over the aircraft's combat capabilities with specific regard to radar visibility, weight to power ratio, turn rate and flammability. The concerns about the F-35's performance have resulted in part from reports of RAND simulations where numerous Russian Sukhoi fighters defeat a handful of F-35s and F-22s. Dr. Jensen also suggested it is inferior to current and superseded aircraft already in service around the world. As a result of these issues the Australian defence minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, requested a formal briefing from the Department of Defence on the computer simulation. This briefing stated that the reports of the simulation were inaccurate, and that it did not compare the F-35's performance against that of other aircraft.

Airplane Pictures - A Pratt and Whitney F135 engine undergoes altitude testing at the Arnold Engineering Development Center.

(Image: A Pratt and Whitney F135 engine undergoes altitude testing at the Arnold Engineering Development Center.)

The criticism of the F-35 has been dismissed by the Pentagon and manufacturer. The USAF has conducted an analysis of the F-35's air-to-air performance against all 4th generation fighter aircraft currently available, and has found the F-35 to be at least four times more effective. Maj Gen Charles R. Davis, USAF, the F-35 program executive officer, has stated that the "F-35 enjoys a significant Combat Loss Exchange Ratio advantage over the current and future air-to-air threats, to include Sukhois", which are currently being flown by the Russian, Indian, and Chinese Air Forces.

Manufacturing responsibilities

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics is the prime contractor and performs aircraft final assembly, overall system integration, mission system, and provides forward fuselage, wings and flight controls system. Northrop Grumman provides Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, center fuselage, weapons bay, and arrestor gear. BAE Systems provides aft fuselage and empennages, horizontal and vertical tails, crew life support and escape systems, Electronic warfare systems, fuel system, and Flight Control Software (FCS1). Alenia will perform final assembly for Italy and, according to an Alenia executive, assembly of all European aircraft with the exception of the UK's.

Operational history


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, adjacent to Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth manufacturing facility, 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-35A 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.

On 11 June 2008, after extensive ground testing, the first F-35B (STOVL version, designated BF-01) made its maiden flight at Fort Worth. The flight, which featured a conventional takeoff, was piloted by BAE Systems' test pilot Graham Tomlinson.

Environmental concerns

In late 2008 the Air Force revealed that the F-35 would be about twice as loud at takeoff as the F-15 Eagle and up to four times as loud upon landing. As a result, residents near Davis-Monthan and Eglin Air Force Bases, possible homes of the jet, have requested that the Air Force conduct environmental impact studies concerning the F-35's noise levels.

International participation

While the United States is the primary customer and financial backer, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Turkey, Australia, Norway and Denmark have agreed to contribute US$4.375 billion toward the development costs of the program. Total development costs are estimated at more than US$40 billion (underwritten largely by the United States), while the purchase of an estimated 2,400 planes is expected to cost an additional US$200 billion. The nine major partner nations plan to acquire over 3,100 F-35s through 2035, making the F-35 one of the most numerous jet fighters.

Participant nations:
Primary customer: USA
Level 1 partner: UK
Level 2 partner: The Netherlands and Italy
Level 3 partner: Canada, Turkey, Australia, Norway and Denmark
Security Cooperative Participants (SCP): Israel and Singapore

There are three levels of international participation. The levels generally reflect the financial stake in the program, the amount of technology transfer and subcontracts open for bid by national companies, and the order in which countries can obtain production aircraft. The United Kingdom is the sole "Level 1" partner, contributing US$2.5 billion, about 10% of the development costs under the 1995 Memorandum of Understanding that brought the UK into the project. Level 2 partners are Italy, which is contributing US$1 billion; and the Netherlands, US$800 million. Level 3 partners are Canada, US$475 million; Turkey, US$195 million; Australia, US$144 million; Norway, US$122 million and Denmark, US$110 million. Israel and Singapore have joined as Security Cooperative Participants (SCP).

Some of the partner countries have waivered in their public commitment to the JSF program, hinting or warning that unless they receive more subcontracts or technology transfer, they will forsake JSF for the Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab JAS 39 Gripen, Dassault Rafale or simply upgrade their existing aircraft. Norway has several times threatened to put their support on hold unless substantial guarantees for an increased industrial share is provided. Despite this Norway has signed all the Memoranda of Understanding, including the latest one detailing the future production phase of the JSF program. They have, however, indicated that they will increase and strengthen their cooperation with both competitors of the JSF, the Typhoon and the Gripen.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom planned to acquire 138 F-35Bs as of December 2006 for the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy.

The UK became increasingly frustrated by a lack of U.S. commitment to grant access to the technology that would allow the UK to maintain and upgrade its F-35s without US involvement. This is understood to relate mainly to the software for the aircraft. For five years, British officials sought an ITAR waiver to secure greater technology transfer. This request, which has the blessing of the Bush administration, was repeatedly blocked by U.S. Representative Henry Hyde, who said that the UK needed to tighten its laws protecting against the unauthorized transfer of the most advanced U.S. technology to third parties.

On 27 May 2006, President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that "Both governments agree that the UK will have the ability to successfully operate, upgrade, employ, and maintain the Joint Strike Fighter such that the UK retains operational sovereignty over the aircraft." On 12 December 2006, Lord Drayson signed an agreement which met the UK's demands for further participation, i.e., access to software source code and operational sovereignty. The agreement allows "an unbroken British chain of command" for operation of the aircraft. Drayson said Britain would "not be required to have a US citizen in our own operational chain of command". Drayson also said, however, that Britain is still considering an unspecified "Plan B" alternative to buying the Joint Strike Fighter.

On 25 July 2007, the Ministry of Defence confirmed that they have placed orders for the two new aircraft carriers of the Queen Elizabeth class that will allow the purchase of the F-35B variant. On 2 May 2008, however, the Washington Post reported that an Inspector General's report chided the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Security Service for failing to ensure that BAE Systems was exercising appropriate controls over access to sensitive technologies, while both BAE and Lockheed Martin denied that any technology had been compromised.


Italy plans to acquire a total of 131 F-35s, of which 74 are F-35As and 57 are F-35Bs. On 7 October 2008 Italy announced it will not participate in initial F-35 testing & evaluation and will not purchase test aircraft. the Italian Navy plans to buy 22 F-35B for use on their new Cavour STOVL Carrier.


The Netherlands has plans to acquire 85 F-35As and options on another 15 F-35A for the Royal Netherlands Air Force. The aircraft will replace an aging fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16AM. The Dutch government expects the costs to be €5.5 billion for the initial purchase and €9.1 billion for 30 years of service. On 19 November 2007, in the Dutch Parliament, the Secretary of Defence was questioned about the JSF delay, technical problems and rising costs. However, on 29 February 2008, the executive council of the Dutch government decided to go ahead with the purchase of two test aircraft and a MOU was signed. September 7 2008 Dutch television show "Reporter" reports that counter orders are lagging behind compared to promises and that an active lobby by the Royal Netherlands Air force has manipulated the Dutch government into participating in the project.


Canada has been involved in the Joint Strike Fighter Program from the very beginning, investing US$10 million to be an "informed partner" during the evaluation process. Once Lockheed Martin was selected as the primary contractor for the JSF program, Canada then elected to become a level 3 participant along with Norway, Denmark, Turkey, and Australia on the JSF project, paying US$100 million from the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) to be paid over 10 years and an additional $50 million dollars from Industry Canada, in 2002 as a early participant of the JSF program.

Canada's rationale for joining the JSF project was not due to an urgent need to replace Canada's fleet of CF-18 Hornets; instead it was driven primarily by economics. Through Canadian government investment in the JSF project, Canadian companies were allowed to compete for contracts within the JSF project, as there were fears that being shut out from industrial participation in such a large program could severely damage the Canadian aviation industry. Joining also allowed Canada access to information regarding the F-35 as a possible contender when Canada eventually does plan to replace the CF-18 Hornet fleet. Improved interoperability with major allies, allowed the DND to gain insight on leading edge practices in composites, manufacturing and logistics, and the ability to recoup some investment if the government did decide to purchase the F-35.

As a result of Canadian government investment in the JSF project, 144 contracts were awarded to Canadian companies, universities and government facilities, for a combined contract value of US$490 million for the period 2002 to 2012, with an expected value of US$1.1 billion from current contracts in the period between 2013 and 2023, with a total potential estimated value of Canadian JSF involvement from US$4.8 billion to US$6.8 billion.


On 12 July 2002, Turkey became the seventh international partner in the JSF Project, joining the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark and Norway. On 25 January 2007, Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for involvement in F-35 production. The Turkish Air Force is planning to initially order 116 F-35A "CTOL/Air Force versions" at a reported cost of $11 billion. It is reported that the aircraft will be produced under license in Turkey by the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI).

A Letter of Intent (LOI) was signed between TAI and Northrop Grumman ISS (NGISS) International on 6 February 2007. With the LOI, TAI becomes the second source for the F-35 Lightning II center fuselage during the JSF Signing. The number of center fuselages to be produced by Turkish Aerospace Industries will be determined depending on the number of F-35s Turkey will procure and the number of F-35s to be produced worldwide. The LOI represents a potential value in excess of $3 billion. Northrop Grumman currently produces all F-35 center fuselages at its F-35 assembly facility in Palmdale, California.

TAI of Turkey is one of the two international suppliers to Northrop Grumman (the other being Denmark). On 10 December 2007, the Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc. (TAI) was authorized by the Northrop Grumman to commence fabricating subassemblies for the first two F-35 production aircraft. The subassemblies – composite components and aircraft access doors – will be used in the F-35 center fuselage, a major section of the aircraft being produced by Northrop Grumman, a principal member of the Lockheed Martin-led F-35 global industry team.

It is also anticipated that TAI after 2013 will also produce 100% of the F-35 under license from Lockheed Martin Corporation, as was also the case with the F-16 Fighting Falcon program Peace Onyx I and II. Turkey also intends to incorporate in the distant future several Turkish designed and manufactured electronic systems into the F-35 platform.


Australia is participating in the F-35's development, but has not yet placed an order for the aircraft. It is expected that some 75-100 F-35As will be ordered to replace the Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF's) F/A-18 Hornet aircraft.

The Australian Government announced that it would buy into the F-35's development on 22 June 2002. This decision ended the competition to replace Australia's F/A-18 Hornet and F-111 aircraft before it formally began, with other aircraft manufacturers being advised that it would not be worth submitting proposals. The Government argued that joining the F-35 program at an early stage would allow Australia to influence the F-35's development, provide the Government with information on the aircraft's suitability, and generate savings of over $600 million if an order for F-35s is eventually placed. Australia formally signed up to the F-35 Systems Development and Demonstration phase as a Level 3 participant on 30 October 2002.

In November 2006, satisfied with the F-35's progress to date, the Government gave 'first pass' initial approval to the project under which F-35s will be acquired, with a decision on whether to order the aircraft being scheduled for late 2008. Following this initial approval, on 13 December 2006 Australia signed the JSF Production, Sustainment and Follow-on Development Memorandum of Understanding which commits Australia to the next phase of the F-35's development. In October 2006, the deputy chief of the Air Force, Air Vice Marshal John Blackburn, publicly stated that the RAAF had considered suitable aircraft which could be acquired if the F-35 was delayed, but that such aircraft were not believed to be necessary on the basis of the F-35 program's progress at the time.

Concerns over the F-35s delivery schedule developed in Australia during 2007. In February the Minister for Defence announced that a risk mitigation strategy which involved obtaining F/A-18F Hornets was being developed to prevent a gap in the RAAF's air combat capability if the F-35 program was delayed. This strategy was adopted, and an order for 24 F/A-18Fs was announced on 6 March 2007. These aircraft are scheduled to enter service with the RAAF in 2010 and be fully operational by 2012.

Following the 2007 Australian Federal Election, the new Australian Labor Party Government launched an inquiry into the replacement of the RAAF's air combat capability. The party had expressed concerns over the F-35's adequacy while it was in opposition, and proposed acquiring F-22s to replace or supplement the RAAF's F-35 force. An approach was made to the U.S. Government for F-22s in early 2008, but was not successful as these aircraft are not available for export. In April 2008 it was reported that the air combat review had found that the F-35 was the most suitable aircraft for Australia. In October 2008 it was reported that the Australian Government may order 75 F-35s instead of the 100 originally (and still officially) planned, due to the impact of the global financial crisis and a large long-term funding gap in the Defence budget. The Government is currently planning to make a final decision on acquiring F-35s in 2009.

There has been debate in Australia over whether the F-35 is the most suitable aircraft for the RAAF. It has been claimed that the F-35's performance is inferior to Russian-built aircraft operated by countries in Australia's region, that the F-35 cannot meet the RAAF's long-range strike requirement, and that delays to the F-35 program will result in the RAAF experiencing a shortage of combat aircraft. The RAAF believes that the F-35 will meet Australia's needs, however, and both of Australia's major political parties currently support purchasing the aircraft, though they differ over when the order should be placed.


Norway participates in the F-35 program as a Level 3 partner in the System Development and Demonstration phase with a view to enabling its industry to compete for industrial opportunities. Norwegian National Deputy Rune Fagerli, the country's sole representative on the Joint Strike Fighter program, told SPACE.com the Norwegian Royal Ministry of Defence has pledged $125 million in preparations to replace a fleet of F-16 jets that have about 12 years left of operation. "By getting involved here, on the ground level, we can try and address the needs of Norway into this capable fighter early," said Fagerli, a colonel. In Norway, F-16s are fitted with drag chutes because of wet, slippery runways. International cooperation to aircraft development could also yield aircraft from cooperating nations that fit well together during combat. Fagerli also mentioned that Norwegian pilots currently fly missions over Afghanistan in F-16s alongside Danish and Dutch aviators.

The F-35 was evaluated along with JAS 39 Gripen by the Norwegian Future Combat Aircraft Capability Project as a replacement for the F-16s currently in-service. On 20 November 2008, the government released a statement saying it will support buying F-35s for the Royal Norwegian Air Force instead of the Saab Gripen NG.


Denmark has joined the Joint Strike Fighter program as a Level 3 partner and the Royal Danish Air Force is considering the replacement of 48 of its aging F-16 fighters with next generation aircraft.

Security Cooperative Participants (SCP)


In 2003, Israel signed a letter of agreement, worth almost $20 million, to formally join the system development and demonstration (SDD) effort for the F-35 as a "security cooperation participant" (SCP). The Israeli Air Force (IAF) stated in 2006 that the F-35 is a key part of IAF's recapitalization plans, and that Israel intends to buy over 100 F-35A fighters at an estimated cost of over $5 billion to replace their F-16s over time. Israel was reinstated as a partner in the development of the F-35 on 31 July 2006, after Israeli participation was put on hold following the Chinese arms deal crisis.

On 3 September 2007, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi announced the purchase of a squadron of F-35s which Israel will begin receiving in 2014. However, U.S. defense officials later agreed to allow Israel to receive the fighters as early as 2012. The price of each F-35 is expected to reach $70-80 million.

The Jerusalem Post reports the Pentagon has agreed to supply the F-35A variant to Israel as early as 2012, instead of in 2014 or 2015. This would make Israel one of the first nations to receive the aircraft, and very possibly the first foreign nation. Previous objections to Israel’s installation of its own technology in the F-35 — as it has done with every US fighter it has received — were also reportedly overcome. At present, the only Israeli technology in the standard version will be the JSF HMDS helmet mounted display system, designed in cooperation with Elbit Systems. Israel also asked to manufacture F-35 aircraft locally at a 1:2 ratio, but the reports did not indicate whether that request was granted. On 30 September 2008, the US DoD reported that Israel has requested to purchase 25 F-35As with options to buy up to 50 F-35As or F-35Bs.


In February 2003, Singapore joined the JSF program's System Design and Development (SDD) Phase, as a Security Co-operation Participant (SCP).

Potential exports

The F-35 is also a potential offer to the Indian Air Force as of July 2007. This has been interpreted as part of a tactic to sell the F-16 as a multirole fighter to the IAF, as part of its competition to acquire 126 new fighters. Lockheed Martin formally expressed its interest to sell F-35 to India.

The Brazilian Air Force recently has added the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to the list of aircraft under consideration for its relaunched new fighter procurement, called F-X2. The F-35 replaces the F-16, which was in contention for the previous F-X BR program, shelved in 2003 and finally abandoned in 2006.

The Finnish Air Force has expressed its interest in the F-35, and other "advanced aircraft", as the replacement for its F-18C Hornets. An eventual purchase decision would be taken around 2015.


The F-35 is planned to be built in three different versions to suit the needs of its various users. Orders for many aircraft are expected with the United States Air Force planning to acquire 1,765.


The F-35A is the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant intended for the US Air Force and other air forces. It is the smallest, lightest F-35 version and is the only variant equipped with an internal cannon, the GAU-22/A. This 25 mm cannon, a development of the 20 mm M61 Vulcan is designed for increased effectiveness against ground targets. The GAU-22 is a version of the GAU-12 carried by the USMC's AV-8B Harrier II.

The F-35A is expected to match the F-16 in maneuverability, instantaneous and sustained high-g performance, and outperform it in stealth, payload, range on internal fuel, avionics, operational effectiveness, supportability and survivability. It also has an internal laser designator and infrared sensors.

The A variant is primarily intended to replace the USAF's F-16 Fighting Falcons, beginning in 2013, and replace the A-10 Thunderbolt II starting in 2028.


The F-35B is the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the aircraft. Similar in size to the A variant, the B sacrifices some fuel volume to make room for the vertical flight system. Takeoffs and landing with vertical flight system are by far the riskiest, and in the end, a decisive factor in design. Like the AV-8B Harrier II, the B's guns will be carried in a ventral pod.

The British Royal Air Force and Navy plan to use this variant to replace their Harrier GR7/GR9s. The United States Marine Corps intends to purchase 340 F-35Bs to replace all current inventories of the F/A-18 Hornet, AV-8B Harrier II and EA-6B Prowler in the fighter, attack, and electronic warfare roles.

The F-35B was unveiled at Lockheed's Fort Worth plant on 18 December 2007, and the first test flight was on 11 June 2008. The B variant is expected to be available beginning in 2012.


The F-35C carrier variant will have a larger, folding wing and larger control surfaces for improved low-speed control, and stronger landing gear for the stresses of carrier landings. The larger wing area allows for decreased landing speed, increased range and payload, with twice the range on internal fuel compared with the F/A-18C Hornet, achieving much the same goal as the heavier F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

The United States Navy will be the sole user for the carrier variant. It intends to buy 480 F-35Cs to replace the F/A-18A, -B, -C, and -D Hornets. The F-35C will also serve as a stealthier complement to the Super Hornet. On 27 June 2007, the carrier variant completed its Air System Critical Design Review (CDR). This allows the first two functional prototype F-35C units to be produced. The C variant is expected to be available beginning in 2015.

Specifications (F-35 Lightning II)

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: 460 ft² (42.7 m²)
Empty weight: A: 29,036 lb, B: 32,161 lb, C: 32,070 lb (A: 13,170 kg, B: 14,588 kg, C: 14,547 kg)
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)
Lift fan (STOVL): 1× Rolls-Royce LiftSystem 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: ;1,200 nmi (A: 2,220 km; B: 1,670 km; C: ;2,220 km) on internal fuel
Combat radius: A: ;590 nmi; B: ;450 nmi; C: ;600 nmi (A: 1,090 km; B: 830 km; C: 1,110 km) on internal fuel
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
g-Limits: F-35A: 9 g, F-35B: 9 g, F-35C: 9 g


Guns: 1 × GAU-22/A 25 mm (0.984 in) 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: 4 air-to-air missiles or 2 air-to-air missiles and 2 air-to-ground weapons; External: 6 air-to-air missiles or 4 air-to-ground weapons and 2 air-to-air missiles.

Popular culture

The first major film appearance of a representation of a F-35B was in Live Free or Die Hard (released as Die Hard 4.0 or Die Hard 4 outside North America) in 2007. The film used a combination of a full-scale model and CGI to significantly dramatize its hovering ability using the lift fan.

Source: WikiPedia

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