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Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II

Stealthy carrier-based multi-role fighter

F-35C fighter

The F-35C is one of the most capable fighters in the world

 
 
Country of origin United States
Entered service 2019
Crew 1 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 15.7 m
Wing span 13.1 m
Height 4.48 m
Weight (empty) 15.79 t
Weight (maximum take off) 31.8 t
Engines and performance
Engines 1 x Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-400 turbofan
Traction (dry / with afterburning) 125 / 191 kN
Maximum speed 1 931 km/h
Service ceiling ~ 18 km
Range 2 200 km
Combat radius 1 100 km
Armament
Cannon podded 25 mm cannon (with 220 rounds of ammunition)
Missiles AIM-9X Sidewinder, AIM-120 AMRAAM, AIM-132 ASRAAM, JSOW
Bombs GBU-31/32 JDAM, GBU-12 Paveway laser-guided bombs, free-fall bombs

 

   The Lockheed Martin's F-35 (also known as the Lightning II) was designed uder a Joint Strike Fighter programme as a common multi-role fighter for 3 branches of the US military, including Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy. Its development commenced in the mid 1990s. Development was principally funded by the USA, with the UK and other partner governments providing additional funding. However development of this multi-role fighter was rather protracted and was plagued by constant cost overruns. The same generic aircraft is available in 3 main variants. The F-35A is a conventional take-off and landing aircraft for the US Air Force, the F-35B is a short take-off and vertical landing aircraft for the US Marine Corps, while the F-35C is the carrier-based variant. Initially it was planned that these 3 variants would share around 80% of their parts to keep development, production and maintenance costs low and for easier logistic support. However it turned out that by 2017 the design commonality was only 20%. The F-35B was the first variant of the F-35 to become operational. It achieved initial operational capability with the US Marine Corps in 2015. The US Navy's F-35C made its first flight in 2010. In 2011 the US Marine Corps and US Navy sighed an agreement to purchase 80 and 260 F-35C carrier-based fighters respectively. First pre-production F-35Cs were delivered in 2013. The F-35C achieved initial operational capability in 2019. First deployment is schedulled in 2020. These new carrier-based fighters will replace the US Marine Corps' and Navy's F/A-18 multi-role fighters (A, B, C and D models). Though the US Navy will still use its newer and more capable F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornets. It is planned that these new stealthy fighters will be operational for 30-40 years.

   The F-35C features larger wing and control surfaces (fin & elevator) than the other variants. It is fitted with ailerons, a strengthened landing gear, arrestor hook and a reinforced airframe to absorb catapult launches and arrested landings. This fighter has folding wings.

   The F-35C has a configuration similar to that of Lockheed Martin's own F-22 design, however it is slightly smaller and has one engine. Aircraft with a single engine is less expensive to produce and to service, but at a cost of reduced weapon payload and performance. The F-35C exploits stealth technology, which reduces its radar cross-section and makes it harder to detect for radars. Currently the F-35 is one of the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world. Only the F-22 Raptor is more capable. Also the F-35 is the second true 5th generation fighter after the F-22. Latest Chinese and Russian fighters such as Chengdu J-20 or Sukhoi Su-57 can not match the F-35 in terms of technology.

   The F-35C is stuffed with the most advanced systems. Its key systems include a multi-function Active Electrically-Scanned Array (AESA) that combines radar, electronic warfare and communications functions and a conformal array imaging infrared sensor. Data from the various sensors is fused on the pilot's advanced helmet-mounted display system.

   The F-35C uses a Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-400 afterburning turbofan engine. Similar engine is used by the US Air Force's F-35A, while the F-35B uses a modified multi-cycle engine with Rolls-Royce vertical lift system for short take-off and vertical landing. The F135 is the most powerful fighter engine ever developed. Due to its longer wings and largest wing area the F-35C is the most fuel efficient of all F-35 variants. Also it has the longest range. This fighter is capable of cruising at supersonic speeds. The F-35C carries around 9 000 liters of internal fuel. Also this fighter has an in-flight refueling capability.

   This naval multi-role fighter can perform on air defense missions, close air support and tactical bombing. This multi-role fighter can carry 8 160 kg of ordnance, including 2 internal weapon bays for up to 2 590 kg and 6 external hardpoints for up to 6 800 kg. It can carry up to 2 air-to-air missiles and 2 air-to-ground weapons in its internal weapon bay. The F-35C is compatible with AIM-120 AMRAAM, AIM-132 ASRAAM, JDAM, JSOW, Brimstone, WCMD, MBDA Meteor, and some other missiles. It can carry a mix of 2 AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles and 2 JDAM air-to-ground munitions in its internal weapon bays. For air superiority missions it can carry a mix of 8 AIM-120 AMRAAMs and 4 AIM-9X Sidewinders. Additional missiles, bombs or fuel tanks can be attached to external hardpoint. Wing tip pylons can also carry AIM-9X Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles. However external weapons are carried at the expense of being more detectable by radars.

   The F-35C has got no integral cannon. Only the F-35A version is fitted with one. Still though the F-35C can carry a podded 25 mm 4-barrel cannon with 220 rounds of ammunition. This external pod has stealth features.

   Development program of the F-35 was plagued by constant cost overruns. Low-rate initial production F-35C aircraft had a unit price of around $122 million per aircraft. It was planned that a full-rate production F-35A aircraft will cost less. As example the F-22 Raptor stealthy air superiority fighter costs around $150 million per aircraft.

 

 

 
 
F-35C fighter

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F-35C fighter

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F-35C fighter

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F-35C fighter

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F-35C fighter

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F-35C fighter

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F-35C fighter

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