F-35 Lightning II

The F-35 Lightning II is a single-seat, single-engine, stealth-capable military strike fighter, a multi-role aircraft that can perform close air support, tactical bombing, and air-to-air combat.

F-35 Lightning II

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.

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-35 Lightning II

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


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. 

F-35 Lightning II

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.

Stealth technology makes the aircraft hard to detect as it approaches short-range tracking radar.

Will feature a voice-recognition system, improving the pilot's ability to operate the aircraft. The F-35 will be the first U.S. aircraft with such a system.

F-35 Lightning II

Although helmet-mounted displays have already been integrated into some fourth-generation fighters such as the Swedish JAS 39 Gripen, the F-35 will be the first in which helmet-mounted displays replace a head-up display altogether.

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.

F-35 Lightning II

While the United States is the primary customer and financial backer, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Australia and Turkey have contributed toward the development costs of the program.

The F-35 is planned to be built in three different versions to suit the needs of its various users.

The F-35A, 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 gun, the GAU-12/U. This 25 mm cannon, a development of the 20 mm M61 Vulcan carried by USAF fighters since the F-104 Starfighter, is also carried by the USMC's AV-8B Harrier II.

F-35 Lightning II

The F-35A not only matches the F-16 in maneuverability, instantaneous and sustained high-g performance, but also outperforms it in stealth, payload, range on internal fuel, avionics, operational effectiveness, supportability and survivability.

It also has an internal laser designator and infra-red sensors.

It is primarily intended to replace both the USAF's F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, beginning in 2011.

The F-35B is the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant aircraft. The F-35B is similar in size to the Air Force F-35A, trading fuel volume for vertical flight systems. Like the AV-8 Harrier II, guns will be carried in a ventral pod. Vertical flight is by far the riskiest, and in the end, a decisive factor in design.

The F-35's main power plant is derived from Pratt & Whitney's F119 or GE Rolls Royce fighter team's F136, with the STOVL variant of the latter incorporating a Rolls-Royce Lift Fan module.

Instead of lift engines, or rotating nozzles on the engine fan and exhaust like the Pegasus-powered Harrier, the F-35B uses a vectoring cruise nozzle in the tail, i.e. the rear exhaust turns to deflect thrust down, and an innovative shaft-driven Lift Fan, patented by Lockheed Martin and developed by Rolls-Royce.

Somewhat like a turboprop built within the fuselage, engine shaft power is diverted forward via a clutch-and-bevel gearbox to a vertically mounted, contra-rotating lift fan located forward of the main engine in the center of the aircraft.

F-35 Lightning II

Bypass air from the cruise engine turbofan exhausts through a pair of roll-post nozzles in the wings on either side of the fuselage, while the lift fan balances the vectoring cruise nozzle at the tail.

This system is more similar to the Russian Yak-141 and German VJ 101D/E than previous STOVL designs, such as the Harrier with thrust vectoring.

In effect, the F-35B power plant acts as a flow multiplier, much as a turbofan achieves efficiencies by moving unburned air at a lower velocity, and getting the same effect as the Harrier's huge, but supersonically impractical, main fan.

This variant is intended to replace the later derivatives of the Harrier Jump Jet, which was the world's first operational short takeoff / vertical landing fighter/ground attack aircraft. The RAF and Royal Navy will use this variant to replace the Harrier GR7/GR9s.

F-35 Lightning II

The U.S. Marine Corps will use the F-35B to replace both its AV-8B Harrier II and F/A-18 Hornet fighters. The B variant is expected to be available beginning in 2012.

The F-35C naval 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 provides 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 US Navy intends to buy 480 F-35Cs to replace the F/A-18A, -B, -C, and -D Hornets.

The C variant is expected to be available beginning in 2012.

F-35A Lightning II 3 views
F-35B Lightning II 3 views
F-35c Lightning II 3 views

Specifications (F-35 Lightning II)

Note: Some information is estimated.
General characteristics
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: 26,000 lb (12,000 kg)
Loaded weight: 44,400 lb (20,100 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 60,000 lb (27,200 kg)

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)

Maximum speed: Mach 1.6+ (1,200 mph, 1,931 km/h)
Range: A: 1,200 nmi; B: 900 nm; C: 1400 nm (A: 2,200 km; B: 1,667 km; C: 2,593 km) on internal fuel
Combat radius: 600 nmi (690 mi, 1,110 km)
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

F-35A: +9G
F-35B: +7G
F-35C: +7.5G

1 × GAU-12/U 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.

Internally (current planned weapons for integration), up to four AIM-120 AMRAAM, AIM-9X Sidewinder or AIM-132 ASRAAM internally or two air-to-air and two air-to-ground weapons (up to two 2,000 lb weapons in A and C models; two 1000 lb weapons in the B model) in the bomb bays.

These could be AMRAAM, 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.


 F-35 Lightning II

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(This text was adapted from http://www.wikipedia.org/ )(GFDL)
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