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F-35B

Stealthy multi-role fighter with STOVL capability

The F-35B Lightning II is one of the deadliest fighters ever built

 
 
Country of origin United States
Entered service 2015
Crew 1 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 15.39 m
Wing span 10.66 m
Height 4.36 m
Weight (empty) 14.65 t
Weight (maximum take off) 27.2 t
Engines and performance
Engines 1 x Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-600 turbofan with Rolls-Royce vertical lift system
Traction (dry / with afterburning) 120 / 182 kN
Maximum speed 1 920 km/h
Service ceiling ~ 18 km
Range 1 666 km
Ferry range ?
Combat radius 833 km
Armament
Cannon optional pod with 25 mm cannon
Missiles AIM-9X Sidewinder, AIM-120 AMRAAM, AIM-132 ASRAAM, JSOW, Brimstone, Meteor
Bombs GBU-31/32 JDAM, WCMD, Paveway laser-guided bombs, free-fall bombs

 

   The F-35B is a Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft. It is also known as the Lightning II. The F-35B is a modified version of the generic F-35 multi-role fighter. This model was developed for the US Marine Corps, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. Development of this aircraft was principally funded by the United States, with the United Kingdom and other partner governments providing additional funding. The generic F-35 aircraft was proposed in three main variants, including the F-35A conventional take-off and landing aircraft, F-35B short-rake of and vertical landing aircraft and F-35C carrier-based aircraft. It was planned that these variants will share about 80% of their parts to keep development and production costs low. This also would require less logistic support. However it turned out that by 2017 the design commonality was only 20%. Development program of the F-35 series was plagued by constant cost overruns. Low-rate initial production F-35B aircraft had a unit price of around $122 million per aircraft. As example an F-22 Raptor stealthy fighter, which is the most capable fighter aircraft ever built, costs around $150 million per aircraft. The F-35B achieved initial operational capability with the US Marine Corps (USMC) in 2015. It was the first variant of the F-35 that reached operational service. The F-35B replaces in USMC service the older F/A-18 multi-role fighters, notably its -A, -B, -C and -D models and AV-8B close support aircraft. The US Marines also operate another F-35C carrier-based variant. It is planned that the F-35B will be exported to United Kingdom, Italy, Turkey, and possibly some other countries.

   The generic F-35 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 load and performance. The F-35 exploits stealth technology, which reduces its radar cross-section and makes it harder to detect for radars. Currently it 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-35B is mainly intended to operate from aircraft carriers, helicopter carriers and amphibious assault ships. Though it can also operate from airfields. This model can be identified by a small hump behind the cockpit.

   This multi-role fighter is powered by a Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-600 multi-cycle engine. It is a modified version of the F135 engine (a most powerful fighter engine ever developed), that is used on F-35A and F-35C variants. Though it has an added Rolls-Royce vertical lift system. Connected to the engine via a drive shaft, a Rolls-Royce lift fan behind the cockpit provides around half the thrust required for hovering flight. The lift fan results in lower power settings, and cooler exhaust temperatures and velocities. Interestingly engine of the F-35B is way more expensive than of other F-35 variants. Engines of the F-35A and F-35C cost around $13 million, while engine of the F-35B costs a whooping $31 million. The Lightning II is capable of cruising at supersonic speeds.

   The F-35B multi-role fighter can perform on air defense missions, close air support and tactical bombing. It has a combined weapon payload of 6 800 kg in two internal weapon bays and on external hardpoints. The F-35B 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 hardpoints. 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-35B has got no internal cannon. Alternatively it can carry an external pod with a GAU-22/A 4-barrel 25 mm cannon and 220 rounds of ammunition. This external pod has stealth features.

   The F-35B 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.

   Even though the F-35B is similar in size to the F-35A, it sacrificed around third of its internal volume in order to accommodate the vertical lift system. As a result it has shorter range. This multi-role fighter has an in-flight refueling capability.

 

 

 
 

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