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 $391.2 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.
The fuselage is made by Lockheed Martin (forward fuselage) and Northrop Grumman (center fuselage), while BAE Systems produces the aft fuselage and tails. 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) and flight test pods. Alliant Techsystems (ATK) makes the seven-piece upper wing skin, lower wing skins, engine nacelle skins, inlet ducts, and the upper wing strap. In total, more than 20,000 individual components are used on the F-35. Measured by structural weight, the F-35 is 38% composite.
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 their F136.
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 itself) and 340 F-35Bs + 80 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 30 aircraft in 2012 (13 in 2011) including 11 F-35As, 18 F-35Bs, and one System Development and Demonstration F-35C aircraft. As of August 2013, 67 F-35s (including test aircraft) have been delivered.
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. In September 2013, the F-35 reached a major milestone surpassing 10,000 flight hours on 6,492 flights.
The U.S. and eight partner nations + Israel and Japan currently plan to acquire a total of 3,164 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 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.
Australia plans to buy 14 F-35As for $3.2 billion and is contracted to buy two aircraft to be delivered in 2014 and 2015. On May 3, 2013, the Australian Government reaffirmed its long-term strategy to buy 100 F-35As. Australia's first two aircraft are in production and scheduled for delivery to the Royal Australian Air Force in 2014.
In a $2.75 billion order, Israel has purchased 19 F-35As (designated F-35I) to be delivered in 2016/17. A follow-on order for more F-35Is is expected in 2018.
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 will decide which aircraft will replace its current F-16 fleet. The four candidates are the F-35A, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the Eurofighter Typhoon, and the SAAB JAS39 Gripen.
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 reduce its order further.
Turkey has committed to buying 100 F-35As worth $12 billion for delivery between 2017 and 2025.
In September 2013, it was announced that Belgium considers replacing its fleet of 60 F-16s with 35-55 F-35s. No decisions are expected until late 2014.
On November 22, 2013, South Korea announced its decision to purchase 40 F-35As with deliveries commencing in 2018. The $6.8 billion deal will be finalized in the third quarter of 2014.
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.
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 $124.76 million (2013).
The airframe costs $78.51 million, the F135-PW-100
engine costs $14.46 million, the avionics cost $25.17 million, while other costs make up the remaining $6.62 million.
The unit cost of the F-35B is $156.80 million (2013). The airframe costs $89.43 million, the F135-PW-600 engine (coupled to the Rolls-Royce LiftSystem) costs $36.44 million, the avionics cost $24.31 million, while other costs make up the remaining $6.62 million.
The unit cost of the F-35C is $142.64 million (2013). The airframe costs $97.24 million, the F135-PW-400 engine costs $14.46 million, the avionics cost $24.31 million, while other costs make up the remaining $6.63 million.
The total procurement cost of the F-35 program (incl. engines) is estimated at $333.43 billion + $55.18 billion in research and development (RDT&E) funds, which means the total estimated program cost is $391.21 billion (numbers are aggregated annual funds spent over the life of the program and no price/inflation adjustment was made). This figure excludes military construction (MILCON) costs in support of the aircraft part of the program in the amount of $4.60 billion. The F-35 aircraft will cost $326.9 billion ($278.95 billion procurement + $43.36 billion RDT&E), while the F-35 engine will cost another $64.30 billion ($52.48 billion procurement + $11.82 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 2013, the budget provides funding for 29 aircraft: 4x F-35C CV for the Navy, 6 F-35B STOVL for the Marine Corps, and 19 F-35A CTOL for the Air Force. Procurement funds in the amount of $4,886.2M have been allocated to the F-35 - net of $822.0M in sequestration cuts - Click for sequestration data for this program.
Continues development of the air system, F-135 single engine propulsion system, and conducts systems engineering, development and operational testing, and supports follow-on Development. In FY 2014, the budget provides funding for 29 aircraft: 4x F-35C CV for the Navy, 6 F-35B STOVL for the Marine Corps, and 19 F-35A CTOL for the Air Force.
Sources Used: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Lockheed Martin Corp.,
BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney, General Electric, VSI,
and General Dynamics.
Last Update: March 26, 2014.
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
VSI: 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: 340x F-35B + 80x F-35C
UK RAF/Royal Navy: 138x F-35B
Italy: 60x F-35As + 30x F-35B (may be reduced)
Netherlands: 85x F-35A
Turkey: 100x F-35As
Australia: 100x F-35As
Norway: 52x F-35As
Denmark: 30x F-35As
Canada: 65x F-35As
Israel: 19x F-35As
Japan: 42x F-35As
South Korea: 40x F-35As
Total F-35 Program Cost (incl. engines):
$391.21 billion ($331.43B procurement + $59.78B 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)||Sequestration FY2013|
|Purchases of F-35B STOVL (NAVY)||Modification of F-35B Aircraft (NAVY)|
|Purchases of F-35C CV (NAVY)||Modification of F-35C Aircraft (NAVY)|
Primary Function: Strike fighter
Primary Function: Strike fighter/STOVL
Primary Function: Strike fighter (carrier-based)