Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II, RIAT 2018 ©Nigel Key
15 December 2006.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a single engine, stealth multirole fighter that is designed for both air superiority and strike missions.
The F-35 has a wing-tail configuration with two canted vertical stabilisers. Control surfaces consist of leading-edge flaps, flaperons, rudders, all-moving stabilators and leading edge root extensions.
The F-35 is constructed from bismaleimide and composite epoxy materials and also has carbon nanotube-reinforced epoxy.
Due to the internal weapon bays and extensive avionics carried the F-35 is heavier than its predecessor.
The F-35 doesn’t have the raw power of larger twin-engine aircraft but has less drag due to ordinance being carried internally.
The F135 engine gives good subsonic acceleration and can provide supersonic speed with afterburners.
The large stabilisers and leading edge extensions enable the F-35 to perform a high angle of attack when required.
The aircraft is unstable and controlled by fly-by-wire giving excellent handling.
The stealth characteristics and high fuel reserve gives the F-35 a good combat radius and also enables an efficient flight profile.
The advanced avionics and sensors in the aircraft are designed to enhance the pilot’s command and control capabilities.
The F-35 has three main variants:-
F-35A – conventional take-off and landing,
F-35B – short take-off and vertical landing,
F-35C – carrier based.
The F-35 Lightning II was produced from 2006, with over 590 built.
Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100 turbofan, producing 28,000 lbf
43,000 lbf with afterburner.
1 x GAU-22/A 25mm rotary cannon
5,700 lb (2,600 kg) internal weapon payload
15,000 lb (6,800 kg) external payload
The F-35B entered service with the U.S. Marine Corps in July 2015, followed by the U.S. Air Force F-35A in August 2016 and the U.S. Navy F-35C in February 2019.
In 2018, the F-35 was first used in combat by the Israeli Air Force.
The Royal Air Force and Royal Navy both have the F-35B in service which replaced the Harrier GR9 and Tornado GR4, with Squadron No. 617 (of Dambusters fame) was the first operational F-35 squadron.
|Crew - 1|
|Length - 50ft 6in (15.37m)|
|Wingspan - 35ft 0in (10.67m)|
|Height - 14ft 4in (4.4 m)|
|Empty Weight - 29,300 lb (13,290 kg)|
|Max. Weight - 70,000 lb (31,751 kg)|
|Max. Speed - Mach 1.6|
|Range - 1,700 mile (2,800 km)|