F-35 Lightning II

Lightning II







The Lockheed Martin F-35 or Joint Strike Fighter was designed as a multi-role, 5th Generation combat aircraft with 3 variants to replace F-16, A-10, F-18 and AV8B aircraft from the US and Allied forces. It was envisaged that production in large numbers would reduce unit costs. There are nine nations committed to the project – USA, UK, Italy, Canada, Netherlands, Turkey, Australia, Norway and Denmark.

Australia joined the project in October 2002 and in the 2009 Defence White Paper, Defence advised it would acquire approximately 100 F-35A aircraft. The Australian Government has confirmed orders for 14 aircraft with first delivery due in 2014. Australian pilots and maintainers will initially undertake training in the US until the Australian training centre is established at RAAF Base Williamtown, the primary base for Australia’s F-35A aircraft. The first F-35A is planned to arrive in Australia at Williamtown in late 2019 and Air Force plans to base the F-35A at both Williamtown (NSW) and RAAF Base Tindal (NT). The first F-35A completed its maiden flight on 15 December 2006 and the F-35 fleet has accumulated over 5,000hrs of flight testing and training.

The aircraft is an incredibly complicated machine using computers requiring 24 million lines of code to integrate sensor inputs, helmet mounted displays, weapons systems and ‘information fusion’. Naturally the complexity of the design has led to project delays that may lead to a ‘fighter gap’ where countries will lack sufficient jet fighters to cover their requirements before the F-35 is declared fully operational. Australia has already purchased 24 Boeing F-18F Super Hornets to help bridge this gap.

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor and its partners are Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems (UK).

General characteristics

Crew:                                                      1
Length:                                                   51.4 ft (15.67 m)
Wingspan:                                              35 ft (10.7 m)
Height:                                                    14.2 ft (4.33 m)
Wing area:                                              460 sq ft (42.7 sq m)
Empty weight:                                        29,300 lb (13,300 kg)
Loaded weight:                                       49,540 lb (22,470 kg)
Max. takeoff weight:                              70,000 lb (31,800 kg)
Powerplant:                                             1 × Pratt & Whitney F135 afterburning turbofan
Dry thrust:                                               28,000 lb (125 kN)
Thrust with afterburner:                         43,000 lb (191 kN)
Internal fuel capacity:                             18,480 lb (8,382 kg)


Maximum speed:                                     Mach 1.6+ (1,200 mph, 1,930 km/h
Range:                                                      1,200 nm (2,220 km) on internal fuel
Combat radius:                                        584 nm (1,080 km) on internal fuel
Service ceiling:                                         60,000ft (18,288 m)
Thrust/weight:                                         0.87 with full fuel
                                                                  1.07 with 50% fuel


Guns:                                                        1 × General Dynamics GAU-22/A Equalizer 25 mm (0.984 in)
                                                                       4-barreled gatling cannon, internally mounted with 180 rounds
Hardpoints:                                              6 × external pylons on wings with a capacity of 15,000 lb (6,800 kg) 
                                                                  2 x internal bays with 2 x pylons each
                                                                        for a total weapons payload of 18,000 lb (8,100 kg)
Air-to-air missiles:                                   AIM-120 AMRAAM
                                                                  AIM-9X Sidewinder
Air-to-surface missiles:
                                                                  AGM-158 JASSM
Anti-ship missiles:
                                                                  AGM 84 Harpoon
                                                                  Mark 84 2000lb general purpose bombs
                                                                  Mark 82 500lb general purpose bombs
                                                                  Paveway series laser-guided bombs