F-35 Lightning II

F-35 Lightning II
The first of 15 pre-production F-35s.
Type Multirole fighter
Manufacturers Lockheed Martin Aeronautics
Northrop Grumman
BAE Systems
Maiden flight 2006-12-15
Introduced 2011 (scheduled)
Status Under development/pre-production
Primary users United States Air Force
United States Navy
United States Marine Corps
Royal Air Force
Produced 2003-present
Developed from Lockheed Martin X-35

The F-35 Lightning II—descended from the X-35 of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program—is a single-seat, single-engined military strike fighter, a multi-role aircraft that can perform close air support, tactical bombing, and air-to-air combat. Its development is being funded by the United States, the United Kingdom, and other partner governments. It is being designed and built by an aerospace industry team led by Lockheed Martin and major partners BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman. Demonstrator aircraft flew in 2000;[1] a production model first took flight on 15 December 2006. [2]




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:


International participation

The primary customers and financial backers are the United States and the United Kingdom. Eight other nations are also funding the aircraft's development and will decide in 2006 whether or not to purchase it. Total program development costs are estimated at over US$40 billion (underwritten largely by the United States), while procurement of an estimated 2,400 planes is expected to be an additional US$200 billion.[3]

There are three levels of international participation. The United Kingdom is the sole 'Level 1' partner, contributing slightly over US$2 billion, about 10% of the development costs.[4] This is a result of a 1995 Memorandum of Understanding which saw the UK officially join the Joint Strike Fighter project.[5] Level 2 partners are Italy, which is contributing US$1 billion, and the Netherlands, US$800 million. Level 3 partners are Canada, US$440 million; Turkey, US$175 million; Australia, US$144 million; Norway, US$122 million; and Denmark, US$110 million. 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 priority order in which countries can obtain production aircraft. Israel and Singapore have also joined as Security Cooperative Participants.[6]

Some of the partner countries have wavered 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 theEurofighter Typhoon, Gripen, Dassault Rafale or simply upgrade their existing aircraft. In late 2006, Norway put its support on hold while it sought more industry participation. Oslo also will participate in the Typhoon and Gripen programs to ensure competition for their purchase.[7]


United Kingdom participation

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 U.S. involvement. For five years, British officials sought an ITAR waiver to secure greater technology transfer. This request, which has the blessing of the Bush administration, has been repeatedly blocked by U.S. Representative Henry Hyde, who says that the UK needs to tighten its laws protecting against the unauthorized transfer of the most advanced U.S. technology to third parties.[8]

BAE Systems CEO Mike Turner complained that the U.S. had denied his company access to the aircraft's source code. On 21 December 2005, an article in the Glasgow Herald quoted the chairman of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee as saying "the UK might have to consider whether to continue in the program" if no access were granted.[9] Lord Drayson, Minister for Defence Procurement, took a firmer stance during a March 2006 visit to Washington: "We do expect the software technology transfer to take place. But if it does not take place we will not be able to purchase these aircraft," and he said there was a 'Plan B' if the deal fell through.[10] This may have been the development of a navalized Typhoon.[11]

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."[12] Despite this, concerns were still expressed about the lack of technology transfer as late as December 2006. Nevertheless, on 12 December 2006, Lord Drayson signed an agreement which met the UK's demands for further participation, i.e., access to software source codes 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 U.S. citizen in our own operational chain of command". [13] Drayson also said, however, that Britain is still considering an unspecified "Plan B" alternative to buying the Joint Strike Fighter.


Australian participation

In May 2005, the Australian government announced that it would delay its planned 2006 decision on buying the JSF to 2008, and thus past the term of the present government. Australia, like the UK, has insisted it must have access to all software needed to modify and repair aircraft.

Royal Australian Air Force opinion remains strongly in favour of the JSF.[citation needed] However, some media reports, lobby groups and politicians have raised doubts that the aircraft will be ready in time to replace the aging Australian air force fleet of General Dynamics F-111 strike aircraft and F/A-18 Hornet fighters. Some critics say the F-22 or the Eurofighter may be better choices, both offering better range, dogfighting capability, and supercruise at a cost that may not be much more than the F-35[14] — claims that as of July 2006 are being examined in a parliamentary inquiry.[15] In a statement released in early August 2006, Australian Defence Minister Dr. Brendan Nelson revealed that whilst the F-35 still had governmental support, Australia is starting to investigate other possible aircraft should the F-35 prove to be unfeasible. [16] In October 2006 the deputy chief of the Air Force, Air Vice Marshal John Blackburn, publicly stated that the RAAF had ruled out the purchase of interim strike aircraft to cover any delays to the F-35 program and believed that the F-35 was suitable.[17] Australia is eventually committed to buying 100 of the aircraft, at a cost of approx. $12 billion AUD.[18]

On 13 December 2006, Minister Nelson signed the JSF Production, Sustainment and Follow-on Development Memorandum of Understanding. This argreement provides the cooperative framework for the acquisition and support of the JSF over its life.[19]

At the start of 2007, an order is expected for 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets to prevent a gap between the retirement of the F-111 and introduction of the F-35 into service.


JSF Program history


Origins and X-32 vs. X-35

Boeing X-32 (left) and Lockheed Martin X-35 prior to down-select in 2001, where the X-35 was chosen. DoD photo
Boeing X-32 (left) and Lockheed Martin X-35 prior to down-select in 2001, where the X-35 was chosen. DoD photo

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 the UK Minister of Defence Procurement 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." [20]

On February 19, 2006, the first F-35 (USAF version) was rolled out in Fort Worth, Texas. The aircraft underwent extensive ground testing at Edwards Air Force Base in fall 2006. On September 15, 2006 the first engine run of the F135 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.[21] On December 15, 2006, the F-35 completed its maiden flight.



On July 7 2006, the U.S. Air Force officially announced the name of the F-35: Lightning II,[22] in honor of Lockheed's World War II-era twin-prop P-38 Lightning and the Cold War-era jet English Electric Lightning. English Electric'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 is planned to be built in three different versions to suit the needs of its various users.



The F-35A is the smallest, lightest version of the F-35 series. It is primarily intended to replace both the U.S. Air Force's F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, as well as Australia's fleet of F-111s and F/A-18 Hornets. Of the three F-35 variants, only the F-35A is 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.

The F-35A not only matches the F-16 in maneuverability, instantaneous and sustained high-g performance, but also outperfoms it in stealth, payload, range on internal fuel, avionics, operational effectiveness, supportability, and survivability.[citation needed] It also has an internal laser designator and infrared sensors. The F-35A's stealth features give it a first-look, first-shot capability.



X-35B lift fan; the VTOL propulsion system is designed and manufactured by Rolls-Royce plc.
X-35B lift fan; the VTOL propulsion system is designed and manufactured by Rolls-Royce plc.

The F-35B STOVL aircraft is intended to replace the vertical flight Harrier, which was the world's first operational short-takeoff / vertical-landing fighter. The Royal Navy will use this to replace its Sea Harrier FA2s and the RAF's GR9s. The U.S. Marine Corps will use the F-35B to replace both its AV-8B Harriers and F/A-18 Hornet fighters with a design similar in size to the Air Force F-35A, trading fuel volume for vertical flight systems. Like the Harrier, guns will be carried in a pod. Vertical flight is by far the riskiest, and in the end, a decisive factor in design.

Instead of lift engines or rotating nozzles on the engine fan like the AV-8 Harrier, the F-35B uses an innovative shaft-driven Lift Fan, patented by Lockheed Martin and developed by Rolls-Royce.[23] Somewhat like a turboprop embedded into 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.

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. Like lift engines, this added machinery is dead weight during flight, but increased lifting power increases takeoff payload by even more. The cool fan also reduces the harmful effects of hot, high-velocity air which can harm runway pavement or an aircraft carrier deck. Though risky and complicated, it was made to work to the satisfaction of DOD officials. Unlike Boeing's entry, the prototype was able to demonstrate a historic flight starting with a short takeoff, transitioning to supersonic flight, and ending with a vertical landing.

During concept definition, two Lockheed airframes were flight-tested: the Lockheed X-35A (which was later converted into the X-35B), and the larger-winged X-35C.[24] Both the Boeing X-32 and X-35 power plants were derived from Pratt & Whitney's F119, with the STOVL variant of the latter incorporating a Rolls-Royce Lift Fan module.

Arguably the most persuasive demonstration of the X-35's capability was the final qualifying Joint Strike Fighter flight trials, in which the X-35B STOVL aircraft took off in less than 500 feet, went supersonic, and landed vertically.[25]



The Naval F-35C variant will replace the F/A-18A, -B, -C, and -D Hornets, which replaced subsonic but long-ranged attack types such as the A-7 Corsair and A-6 Intruder. It will also serve as a stealthy complement to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. It 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, achieving much the same goal as the much heavier Super Hornet. The U.S. Navy plans to purchase 480 JSF.[26]


Design characteristics

Elements of the F-35 design were pioneered by the F-22 Raptor. The F-35 appears to be a smaller, sightly more conventional, one-engine sibling of the sleeker, two-engine F-22. The exhaust duct design was inspired by the General Dynamics Model 200, a 1972 VTOL aircraft designed for the Sea Control Ship.[27]

Lockheed had a small contact with the Yakovlev Design Bureau in the 1990s.[28] This has been used by some to allege a link with the Yakovlev Yak-141 'Freestyle', despite the two aircraft being very different.

Stealth technology makes the aircraft hard to detect as it approaches short-range tracking, although from its rear aspect it is much more easily spotted.[citation needed]

Some specific improvements over current-generation fighter aircraft are:

Although helmet-mounted display systems have already been integrated into some fourth-generation fighters like the Swedish-manufactured JAS 39 Gripen, the F-35 will be the first modern combat aircraft in which helmet-mounted displays will replace a heads-up display altogether.[29]


Thrust-to-weight ratio

The F-35B variant was in danger of missing performance requirements because it weighed too much — reportedly, by one metric ton (2,200 pounds) or 8%. 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.[30]

The smaller weapons bay will return the F-35B to its original 2 × 1000 lb (450 kg) internal-weapons carriage. This is not expected to hinder close air support missions, which are likely to take place after enemy air defenses are down, but may make the "B" variant different from the other two, boosting costs.[citation needed]

The internal weapons are stored offline to the external air flow, which will complicate weapons certification testing.[citation needed]


Manufacturing responsibilities


Specifications (F-35 Lightning II)

Some information is estimated.

General characteristics




Directed-energy weapons

Directed-energy weapons may be installed in conventional takeoff F-35 Lightning IIs, whose lack of a direct lift fan frees up about 10 ft³ (0.28 m³) of space and whose engine provides more than 27,000 hp (20 MW) for electrical power.[32] Some concepts, including solid state lasers and high-power microwave beams, may be nearing operational status.[33]


Notes and references

  1. Lockheed Martin statement
  2. Lockheed Martin press release
  3. Washington Post article, 2005-03-15
  4. [1]
  5. "U.S., U.K. sign JAST agreement", Aerospace Daily, McGraw-Hill, 1995-11-25, p. 451. Retrieved on 2006-12-24.
  6. Katherine V. Schnasi Joint Strike Fighter Acquisition: Observations on the Supplier Base US Accounts Office. Retrieved 2006-02-08.
  7. "News Breaks", Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 1 2007.
  8. Financial Times UK denied waiver on US arms technology. Retrieved 2006-10-11.
  9. UK Defence Committee Statement MoD 'slippage' set to leave forces with reduced capability, says committee UK Parliament. Retrieved 2006-02-08.
  10. Matt Chapman Britain warns US over jet software codes vunet.com Retrieved 2006-03-16.
  11. Evidence to UK Defence Select Committee. Retrieved 2006-04-01.
  12. Financial Times Bush gives way over stealth fighter. Retrieved 2006-05-27.
  13. "UPDATE 2 - UK signs memo with US on Joint Strike Fighter", Reuters, 2006-12-12. Retrieved on 2006-12-13.
  14. Related discussions and analyses on Air Power Australia web site although the F-22 is not for sale internationally.
  15. Inquiry into Australian Defence Force Regional Air Superiority, Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade, Australian Parliament
  16. US decisions 'threaten' fighter project. The Age, 4 August 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-19.
  17. Max Blenkin RAAF 'won't need' interim jet. News.com.au. 2006-10-10.
  18. Geoff Elliot Troubled stealth fighter tackles first test flight.The Australian. 2006-12-18.
  19. Australia commits to F-35 strike fighter The Age, 2006-12-13.
  20. http://www.designation-systems.net/usmilav/nonstandard-mds.html#_MDS_F35
  21. "Mighty F-35 Lightning 2 Engine Roars To Life." Lockheed Martin news release, 2006-09-22.
  22. "Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter Officially Named 'Lightning II.'" Official Joint Strike Fighter program office press release. July 7 2006.
  23. Lockheed Martin. Design News magazine's Engineer of the Year award goes to lift fan inventor at Lockheed Martin. 2004-02-26.
  24. Joint Strike Fighter official site - History page
  25. PBS: Nova transcript "X-planes"
  26. http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/f-35.htm FAS F-35
  27. Vertiflight (Jan. 2004). Journal of the American Helicopter Society.
  28. John Hayles. Yakovlev Yak-41 'Freestyle'. Aeroflight. March 28, 2005. Accessed August 6, 2006.
  29. Jenkins, Jim (2001). Chief test pilot gives brief on F-35. dcmilitary.com. Retrieved on 2006-04-10.
  30. Fulghum, David A.; Wall, Robert (19 September 2004). USAF Plans for Fighters Change. Aviation Week and Space Technology Retrieved 2006-02-08.
  31. 31.0 31.1 Lockheed-Martin Media Kit Fact Sheets (Zip File).
  32. Fulghum, David A. (8 July 2002). Lasers Being Developed for F-35 and AC-130. Aviation Week and Space Technology Retrieved 2006-02-08.
  33. Fulghum, David A. (22 July 2002). Lasers, HPM Weapons Near Operational Status. Aviation Week and Space Technology Retrieved 2006-02-08.

Further reading


External links




Related content

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Designation sequence

Related lists

See also

Retrieved from "http://localhost../../../art/a/i/q.html"

This text comes from Wikipedia the free encyclopedia. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for a given article, visit the corresponding entry on the English Wikipedia and click on "History" . For more details about the license of an image, visit the corresponding entry on the English Wikipedia and click on the picture.