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.
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-35A, conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) 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 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.
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.
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-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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Specifications (F-35 Lightning II)
Note: Some information is estimated.
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.
(This text was adapted from http://www.wikipedia.org/ )(GFDL)
You can help Wikipedia change the world! Donate now!