- F35 was designed to perform ground strike missions and air defense missions
- Has 3 variants with special capabilities.
- The USA can remotely disable the F35 anywhere in the world.
- The F35 radar range is a well-kept secret
The Lockheed Martin F-35 (nicknamed “Lightning II”) is a family of single-seat, single-engine, stealth multirole fighters deployed in 2015 after intensive testing. It is deemed to be the most advanced fighter jet in the world.
The F-35 has strengthened the U.S.A national security, enhanced global partnerships and powered economic growth. It is the most lethal, survivable and connected fighter aircraft in the world, giving pilots an advantage against any adversary and enabling them to execute their mission and safely return to base.
As adversaries advance and legacy aircraft age, the F-35 is critical to maintaining air dominance for decades to come. The fifth-generation fighter aircraft is designed to perform ground strike missions and air defense missions. It is also highly maneuverable and can sustain high G loads in combat situations. The F-35 can fly at speeds as high as Mach 1.6 and can carry an internal payload of four weapons without compromising its stealth. But it’s not the F-35’s firepower that really makes the difference, it’s the computing power. It’s why F-35s have come to be known as “quarterbacks in the sky” or “a computer that happens to fly.”The F-35 team delivered integrated sustainment capabilities to ensure the F-35 was mission-ready, anytime and anywhere. “There has never been an aircraft that provides as much situational awareness as the F-35,” Major Justin “Hasard” Lee, an Air Force F-35 pilot instructor. “In combat, situational awareness is worth its weight in gold.”
The F-35 has three main models: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier-based catapult-assisted take-off, but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) variant used my marine corps.
F35A in formation from an airshow
Intended for use by the U.S. Air Force and many allied nations, The F-35A is the conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant. This aircraft is intended to operate out of traditional airstrips and is the only version of the F-35 to come equipped with a 25mm internal cannon, allowing it to step in for both the F-16 multirole fighter and the flying cannon A-10 Thunderbolt II, among many others.
The F-35B was purpose-built for short take-off and vertical landing operations (STOVL) and was designed with the needs of the U.S. Marine Corps in mind. While still able to operate off of traditional runways, the STOVL capability offered by the F-35B allows Marines to operate these jets from hazardous runways or off the decks of amphibious assault ships, often referred to as “Lightning Carriers.”
The F-35C is the first stealth fighter ever designed for carrier operations with the U.S. Navy. It boasts larger wings than its peers, to allow for slower approach speeds when landing on a carrier. More robust landing gear aids in tough carrier landings, and it harbors a larger fuel supply (20,000 pounds worth) internally to support longer-range missions. The C is also the only F-35 equipped with folding wings, allowing for easier storage in the hull of ships.
F35 in action
F35B VARIANT HAS VERTICAL TAKE-OFF CAPABILITY
The F35 is designed to be a superior fighter, is equipped with the most advanced weapons systems and packs a serious punch with a 25mm Gatling Gun. Designed from the ground up to prioritize low-observability, the F-35 may be the stealthiest fighter in operation today.
It uses a single F135 engine that produces 40,000 lbs. of thrust with the afterburner engaged, capable of pushing the sleek but husky fighter to speeds as high as Mach 1.6. The aircraft can carry four weapons internally while flying in contested airspace or can be outfitted with six additional weapons mounted on external hardpoints when flying in low-risk environments. The F-35A also comes equipped with an internal 4-barrel 25mm rotary cannon hidden behind a small door to minimize radar returns.
The standard weapons payload of all three F-35 variants includes two AIM-120C/D air-to-air missiles and two 1,000-pound GBU-32 JDAM-guided bombs, allowing the F-35 to engage both airborne and ground-based targets. Lockheed Martin has developed a new internal weapons carriage that allow it to carry an additional two missiles internally.
The cockpit of the F-35 forgoes the litany of gauges and screens found in previous generations of fighters in favor of large touchscreens and a helmet-mounted display system that allows the pilot to see real-time information. This helmet also allows the pilot to look directly through the aircraft, thanks to the F-35’s Distributed Aperture System (DAS) and a suite of six infrared cameras mounted strategically around the aircraft.
“If you were to go back to the year 2000 and somebody said, ‘I can build an airplane that is stealthy and has vertical takeoff and landing capabilities and can go supersonic,’ most people in the industry would have said that’s impossible,” Tom Burbage, Lockheed’s general manager for the program from 2000 to 2013 said. “The technology to bring all of that together into a single platform was beyond the reach of the industry at that time.”
REMOTE KILL SWITCH
Well, the USA has indeed installed a kill switch on the F-35. This allows the US to remotely disable the F-35s of any nation that the US believes is using them in a manner that is against its interests. There are risks associated with the sale of powerful arms, as they can end up being used against the vendor nation or its allies. To mitigate these risks, the US installs kill switches on much of its more powerful military equipment, the F-35 included.
The US Air Force sees the F-35 as a breakthrough platform that will allow them to maintain its overmatch against any future formidable air threat. The United States is expected to be the leading operator of the F-35, with projected procurement of over 2,400 aircraft.
Among the countries that have acquired F35 fighters are Britain, Italy, Finland, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Israel, Norway, The Netherlands, Poland, and Australia mostly being USA allies and NATO members.