5th Generation Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft
Using Service (US):
Air Force (USAF), Navy and Marine Corps
In Production (LRIP phase)
The Lockheed Martin
F–35 Lightning II aka Joint
Strike Fighter (JSF) is a fifth generation single-seat single-engine multi-role fighter aircraft developed
for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, and allied nations. The F-35 is developed from the X-35,
the winning prototype aircraft in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program - selected over Boeing's
X-32 design. The F-35 has a low radar cross section due to the radar absorbent "stealthy" materials used on the aircraft. Also, the shape of the F-35 makes it more difficult to detect on radar.
The F-35 is the DoD's most expensive weapon system ever and schedule delays and cost overruns have dogged the aircraft's development. The total program cost has soared from $233 billion to an estimated $398.6 billion. Recent estimates suggest the F-35 program could exceed $1 trillion over 50 years.
The F-35 is a fifth generation strike fighter which entails increased performance, stealth signature and countermeasures. The advanced avionics, data links, and adverse weather precision targeting incorporate the latest technology available. The highly supportable, affordable, state-of-the-art aircraft is designed to command and maintain global air superiority.
The F-35 is equipped with the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-81 AESA radar system and AN/AAQ-37 Electro-Optical Distributed Aperture System (EO DAS). The F-35 pilot will wear a helmet-mounted display system (F-35 HMDS) from VSI (VSI is a joint venture between Elbit Systems and Rockwell Collins). The targeting system on the F-35 is the nose-mounted Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-40 Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS). The F-35's self-protection system is the BAE Systems AN/ASQ-239 Barracuda, an improved version of the F-22's AN/ALR-94 EW suite. Other equipment on the F-35 include the Martin-Baker US16E ejection seat; retractable probe for aerial refueling (Cobham), located on the right side of the forward fuselage; Honeywell Air Management and Life Support Systems; General Electric standby flight display system, electrical power management system, remote input/output data concentrator unit, weapons control and data electronics, and actuation systems. Also, Goodrich (now United Technologies) builds the landing gear for the F-35.
In total, more than 20,000 individual components are used on the F-35. By structural weight, the F-35 is 38% composite. The F-35 global supply team includes more than 1,400 suppliers from 46 U.S. states. Aircraft are assembled by Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas. Also, Alenia Aermacchi operates a final assembly and checkout (FACO) facility at Cameri Air Base in Italy (first aircraft rolled off the assembly line on March 12, 2015). A second FACO facility is under construction in Nagoya, Japan. The first Japanese assembled F-35A is expected to roll off the line in the fall of 2017.
The fuselage is manufactured by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth (forward fuselage and wing section aka "wing carry-through") and Northrop Grumman (center fuselage), Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) (CTOL center fuselages), Alenia Aermacchi (CTOL wing carry-through), while BAE Systems produces the aft fuselage and tails at its Samlesbury, UK facility (note: CTOL horizontal tail assembly manufactured by Canadian company Magellan Aerospace and CTOL horizontal tail assembly manufactured by Australian company Marand). The outer wings are manufactured by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth, and, at its Palmdale location, the company manufactures leading edge flaps for the wings and horizontal tail trailing edges. Alliant Techsystems (ATK) makes the seven-piece upper wing skin, lower wing skins, engine nacelle skins, inlet ducts, and the upper wing strap. General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GD-OTS) produces the F-35's composite radome at its Marion, VA location. Dutch company Fokker Aerostructures manufactures flaperons and composite access and in-flight opening doors as well as LiftFan doors for the F-35C. Terma Aerostructures of Denmark manufactures composite conventional edges for the horizontal tails, tail skins, composite panels for the center fuselage, Air-to-Ground pylons (through Marvin Engineering), as well as gun pods (F-35B and F-35C only) and DART/HSDR flight test pods. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) produces F-35A outer wings, while Kongsberg of Norway produces the F-35 Air-to-Air pylons, rudders and vertical tail leading edges. Apart from wing carry-throughs, Alenia Aermacchi makes outer wings for the F-35A. Apart from F-35A center fuselages, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) manufactures F-35 Air-to-Ground pylons (through Marvin Engineering). Finally, Canadian company Avcorp makes wing folds for the F-35C carrier variant.
The F-35 Lightning II will meet U.S. Air Force Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) requirements with the F-35A, the Marine Corps' Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) requirements with the F-35B variant, and Navy Carrier Variant (CV) requirements with the F-35C. A high degree of commonality among the three variants will reduce life-cycle costs. The F-35B is the most complicated of the three variants because it can take off and land vertically in less than 500 feet of space, allowing the aircraft to be launched from small Navy ships and to drop down in confined areas.
The F-35 is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney F135 afterburning turbofan engine. The F-35A is powered by the F135-PW-100 which produces 25,000 pounds of thrust or 40,000 pounds with afterburner; the F-35B is powered by the F135-PW-600 which produces 26,000 pounds of thrust or 38,000 pounds with afterburner as well as 40,000 pounds of vertical thrust (coupled to the Rolls-Royce LiftSystem); and finally, the F-35C is powered by the F135-PW-400 which produces 25,000 pounds of thrust or 40,000 pounds with afterburner. General Electric and Rolls-Royce were developing a second engine for the F-35, however, in early December 2011, the companies stopped all development efforts on the F136 turbofan.
The nine JSF partner nations (United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and Turkey) are all contributing to the development and production of the aircraft. The potential market for the F-35 is estimated at 3,000-5,000 aircraft over the next 30 years. The U.S. Navy plans to purchase 680 F-35s, including 260 F-35Cs (for the Navy) and 353 F-35Bs + 67 F-35Cs for the Marine Corps (last delivery in 2032). The U.S. Air Force expects to purchase another 1,763 F-35A CTOL aircraft (last delivery in 2037) for a total of 2,443 F-35s planned for the U.S. military. Lockheed Martin delivered a total of 36, 35, 30 and 13 aircraft in 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011, respectively.
By August 2013, 67 F-35s (including test aircraft) had been delivered. By January 2014, that figure had increased to 93 F-35s. As of January 2015, 131 aircraft (126 US/5 foreign) had been delivered of which 111 are Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) aircraft and the remaining 20 are System Development and Demonstration (SDD) aircraft. On May 28, 2014, the 58th Fighter Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) became the first complete F-35 Lightning II squadron with the delivery of the 26th F-35A to the 33rd Fighter Wing.
The F-35A CTOL variant made its first flight on December 15, 2006 and flight testing is well underway. In 2011, Lockheed Martin conducted a total of 837 test flights with the F-35A. The F-35B STOVL made its first flight on June 11, 2008. On October 25, 2011, the first F-35B production aircraft (named BF-6) made its inaugural flight marking a significant milestone in the F-35 program. F-35 test and production aircraft flew 2,106 flights in 2012. The F-35C CV made its first flight on June 7, 2010. On February 15, 2013, the first production model F-35C (named CF-6), took flight and will be assigned to the U.S. Navy Fighter Attack Squadron 101 (VFA-101) at Eglin AFB. The first F-35C for the Marine Corps arrived at Eglin AFB on January 13, 2015. In September 2013, the F-35 reached a major milestone surpassing 10,000 flight hours on 6,492 flights. In March 2014, the F-35 reached the 14,000 flight hour mark and as of February 2015, F-35s have logged more than 26,000 cumulative flight hours.
The U.S. and eight partner nations + Israel and Japan currently plan to acquire a total of 3,178 F-35s.
In 2001, the United Kingdom committed to buying 138 F-35Bs and has contributed $2 billion to the development of the aircraft. In July 2012, the first British F-35 was delivered.
The Government of Canada plans to purchase 65 F-35As to replace its CF-18 Hornets. On April 4, 2014, Canada informed the U.S. Government that it will not be in a position to purchase the F-35 until 2018.
On December 20, 2011, Japan announced its intent to purchase 42 F-35As to replace its fleet of Boeing F-4 Phantom aircraft. The F-35 was selected over the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the Eurofighter Typhoon. Deliveries are expected to commence in 2016. At the same time, Japan is developing its own indigenous Mitsubishi ATD-X Shinshin, a sixth generation jet fighter prototype.
Australia plans to buy 72 F-35As for a total of $14.8 billion to replace its fleet of 71 older F/A-18 Hornets. Australia ordered 14 F-35 jet fighters in 2009 and, on April 23, 2014, Australia announced it will order another 58 F-35 fighter jets in a deal valued at $11.6 billion, bringing the total order up to 72 aircraft. The new jets will form three operational squadrons and one training squadron. The Australian Government has reaffirmed its long-term strategy to buy 100 F-35As. Australia's first two aircraft, AU-1 and AU-2, rolled out of the factory on July 24, 2014. Australia's first F-35A arrived at Luke AFB on December 18, 2014. The F-35 is planned to enter service with the RAAF in 2020.
In a $2.75 billion order, Israel purchased 19 F-35As in 2010 (designated F-35I) to be delivered in 2016/17. Israel currently plans to purchase 50 F-35s. On February 22, 2015, Israel announced it will purchase 14 additional F-35Is. The deal includes an option for 17 more aircraft.
On March 2, 2013, the Netherlands' second F-35 Lightning II CTOL test aircraft rolled out of the F-35 production facility. On September 17, 2013, the Dutch Government announced that it had formally selected the F-35 to replace its aging fleet of F-16s. The Dutch plan to purchase 37 F-35As in a deal valued at $6 billion. Deliveries of the first planes are expected to commence in 2019 and be completed by 2023. Originally, the Netherlands planned to purchase 85 F-35As.
In June 2015, Denmark is expected to decide which aircraft will replace its aging F-16 fleet. The four candidates are the F-35A, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the Eurofighter Typhoon. SAAB pulled its JAS 39 Gripen out of the competition in July 2014.
Norway plans to purchase 52 F-35As with deliveries commencing in 2015.
Italy has committed to buying 90 F-35s (60 F-35A + 30 F-35B). Originally 131 were planned. In March 2014, the Italian Government announced it expects to further reduce its order.
Turkey has committed to buying 100 F-35As worth $12 billion for delivery between 2017 and 2025. Turkey is also developing its own indigenous TF-X fighter jet.
In September 2013, it was announced that Belgium considers replacing its fleet of 60 F-16s with 35-55 F-35s.
On November 22, 2013, South Korea announced its decision to purchase 40 F-35As with deliveries commencing in 2018. On September 24, 2014, South Korea finalized its formal selection of the F-35A CTOL.
On September 27, 2013, Lockheed Martin and the DoD reached agreement on orders for the next two batches of F-35s worth $7.8 billion. The deal covers 71 aircraft with 36 jets to be purchased in LRIP 6 (deliveries to begin by mid-2014) and 35 in LRIP 7 (deliveries to begin by mid-2015). The total includes 60 F-35s for the U.S. military + 11 for Australia, Italy, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The LRIP 6+7 aircraft will join the 95 aircraft contracted under LRIPs 1-5. On November 21, 2014, the DoD awarded Lockheed Martin a contract valued at $4.7 billion for the eighth batch (LRIP 8) of F-35 fighter jets. The deal includes 29 jets for the U.S. and 14 for five other countries: Israel, Japan, Norway, the United Kingdom and Italy.
The F-35 carries a wide range of ordnance. The aircraft has two internal weapons bays and six external under-wing hardpoints and one external under-fuselage hardpoint. It is equipped with a General Dynamics GAU-22/A Equalizer 25mm four-barreled gatling gun (internal on the F-35A and externally mounted in gun pod on the F-35B and F-35C) and carries AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, AGM-154 JSOW, AGM-158 JASSM, the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM), Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), and GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs as well as several other types of ordnance. For more details, see specifications below.
The unit cost of the F-35A is $112.50 million (recurring cost) or $129.06 million including non-recurring (flyaway cost) in FY 2015.
The airframe costs $74.41 million, the F135-PW-100
engine costs $13.75 million, the avionics cost $22.14 million,
while non-recurring and other costs make up the remaining $18.76 million.
The unit cost of the F-35B is $139.87 million (recurring cost) or $183.41 million including non-recurring (flyaway cost) in FY 2015. The airframe costs $83.04 million, the F135-PW-600 engine (coupled to the Rolls-Royce LiftSystem) costs $32.49 million, the avionics cost $21.59 million, while non-recurring and other costs make up the remaining $46.29 million.
The unit cost of the F-35C is $136.05 million (recurring cost) or $170.63 million including non-recurring (flyaway cost) in FY 2015. The airframe costs $98.05 million, the F135-PW-400 engine costs $13.75 million, the avionics cost $21.59 million, while non-recurring and other costs make up the remaining $37.24 million.
The total procurement cost of the F-35 program (incl. engines) is estimated at $339.27 billion + $55.18 billion in research and development (RDT&E) funds + military construction (MILCON) costs in support of the program in the amount of $4.42 billion. This adds up to a total estimated program cost of $398.58 billion (numbers are aggregated annual funds spent over the life of the program and no price/inflation adjustment was made). The F-35 aircraft will cost $329.96 billion ($282.77 billion procurement + $42.77 billion RDT&E + $4.42 billion MILCON), while the F135 engine will cost another $68.62 billion ($56.49 billion procurement + $12.13 billion RDT&E).
The F-35 Lightning II will complement the Navy's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the Air Force F-22 Raptor and will replace the Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier II, the Navy F/A-18C/D Hornet and the Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Fighting Falcon. The F-35 will provide all–weather, precision, stealthy, air–to–air and air-to-ground strike capability, including direct attack on the most lethal surface–to–air missiles and air defenses.
In FY 2015, the budget funds the procurement of 38 aircraft: 4x F-35C CV for the Navy, 6 F-35B STOVL for the Marine Corps, and 28 F-35A CTOL for the Air Force. Procurement funds in the amount of $6,942.0 million have been allocated to the F-35 program + $1,630.3 million in RDT&E.
Continues development of the air system, F135 single engine propulsion
system, and conducts systems engineering, development and operational testing, and supports
Follow-on Development. Procures a total of 57 aircraft: 44 CTOL for the Air Force, 9 STOVL
for the Marine Corps, and 4 CV for the Navy in FY 2016.
Procurement funds in the amount of $9,158.1 million have been allocated to the F-35 program + $1,854.3 million in RDT&E.
For more information, click to see the FY 2016 USAF budget for the F-35A, the FY 2016 Navy budget for the F-35B, and the FY 2016 Navy budget for the F-35C.
Sources Used: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Lockheed Martin Corp.,
BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney, General Electric,
Rockwell Collins, and General Dynamics.
Last Update: March 13, 2015.
By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard /// (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lockheed Martin: F-35 Lightning II
Official F-35 Site: F-35 Lightning II
Northrop Grumman: AN/APG-81 AESA Radar
General Dynamics: GAU-22/A gun system
Lockheed Martin: AN/AAQ-40 EOTS
Rockwell Collins: F-35 HMDS
YouTube: F-35 Lightning II on YouTube
Fact Sheet: F-35 Lightning II Fact Sheet
Product Card: F-35A CTOL
Product Card: F-35B STOVL
Product Card: F-35C CV
U.S. Air Force: 1,763x F-35A
U.S. Navy: 260x F-35C
U.S. Marine Corps: 353x F-35B + 67x F-35C
UK RAF/Royal Navy: 138x F-35B
Italy: 60x F-35As + 30x F-35B (may be reduced)
Netherlands: 37x F-35A
Turkey: 100x F-35As
Australia: 100x F-35As
Norway: 52x F-35As
Denmark: 30x F-35As
Canada: 65x F-35As
Israel: 33x F-35As
Japan: 42x F-35As
South Korea: 40x F-35As
Total F-35 Program Cost (incl. engines):
$398.58 billion ($339.27B procurement + $59.31B other)
F-35 Procurement Objective:
2,457 aircraft (2,443 production + 14 dev. aircraft)
F-35 JSF U.S. Defense Budget Charts:
|Purchases of F-35A CTOL (USAF)||Modification of F-35A Aircraft (USAF)||RDT&E: F-35 EMD (USAF)|
|Purchases of F-35B STOVL (NAVY)||Modification of F-35B Aircraft (NAVY)||RDT&E: F-35 Squadrons (USAF)|
|Purchases of F-35C CV (NAVY)||Modification of F-35C Aircraft (NAVY)||RDT&E: F-35 EMD (NAVY)|
|Aircraft Spares and Parts (USAF)||Aircraft Spares and Parts (NAVY)||RDT&E: F-35 Follow-On Dev. (NAVY)|
Primary Function: Strike fighter
Primary Function: Strike fighter/STOVL
Primary Function: Strike fighter (carrier-based)