Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Fighter Jet
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, fifth generation multirole fighters under development to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions with stealth capability.
The F-35 appears to be a smaller, slightly more conventional, single-engine sibling of the sleeker, twin-engine Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, and indeed drew elements from it. The exhaust duct design was inspired by the General Dynamics Model 200 design, which was proposed for a 1972 supersonic VTOL fighter requirement for the Sea Control Ship. For specialized development of the F-35B STOVL variant, Lockheed consulted with the Yakovlev Design Bureau, purchasing design data from their development of the Yakovlev Yak-141 "Freestyle". Although several experimental designs have been built and tested since the 1960s including the Navy's unsuccessful Rockwell XFV-12, the F-35B is to be the first operational supersonic, STOVL stealth fighter.
The F-35 has a maximum speed of over Mach 1.6. With a maximum takeoff weight of 60,000 lb (27,000 kg), the Lightning II is considerably heavier than the lightweight fighters it replaces. In empty and maximum gross weights, it more closely resembles the single-seat, single-engine Republic F-105 Thunderchief, which was the largest single-engine fighter of the Vietnam war era. However the F-35's modern engine delivers over 60 percent more thrust in an aircraft of the same weight so that in thrust to weight and wing loading it is much closer to a comparably equipped F-16.
Acquisition deputy to the assistant secretary of the Air Force, Lt. Gen. Mark D. "Shack" Shackelford has said that the F-35 is designed to be America's "premier surface-to-air missile killer and is uniquely equipped for this mission with cutting edge processing power, synthetic aperture radar integration techniques, and advanced target recognition."
The F-35A includes a GAU-22/A, a four-barrel version of the GAU-12 Equalizer 25 mm cannon. The cannon is mounted internally with 182 rounds for the F-35A or in an external pod with 220 rounds for the F-35B and F-35C. The gun pod for the B and C variants will have stealth features. This pod could be used for different equipment in the future, such as electronic warfare equipment, reconnaissance equipment, or possibly a rearward-facing radar.
The F-35 has been designed to have a low radar cross section primarily due to the shape of the aircraft and the use of stealthy materials used in construction, including fiber-mat. Unlike the previous generation of fighters, the F-35 was designed with a shape for low-observable characteristics.
In order to avoid negating its stealth characteristics the F-35 must fly most missions without external fuel tanks. Unlike the F-16 and F/A-18, the F-35 lacks leading edge extensions and instead uses stealth-friendly chines for vortex lift in the same fashion as the SR-71 Blackbird.
The F-35 on the other hand manifests its lowest radar signature from the frontal aspect because of compromises in design. Its surfaces are shaped to best defeat radars operating in the X and upper S band, which are typically found in fighters, surface-to-air missiles and their tracking radars, although the aircraft would be easier to detect using other radar frequencies.
The F-35 features a full-panel-width "panoramic cockpit display" (PCD) glass cockpit, with dimensions of 20 by 8 inches (50 by 20 centimeters). A cockpit speech-recognition system (Direct Voice Input) provided by Adacel is planned to improve the pilot's ability to operate the aircraft over the current-generation interface. The F-35 will be the first US operational fixed-wing aircraft to use this system, although similar systems have been used in AV-8B and trialled in previous US jets, particularly the F-16 VISTA.