The newest ace up Lockheed-Martin’s sleeve when it comes to military aircraft is the F-35 fighter (officially F-35 Lightning II). This aircraft has not been fully adopted by the U.S. military as of yet, but its time is quickly approaching.
The F-35 fighter is part of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program, which began with the X-35 (a prototype of the F-35). The F-35 fighter won the JSF contest over Boeing’s X-32b back in 2001. The F-35 fighter is a versatile fifth-generation stealth fighter that will be used for air support and bombing missions. Its primary capabilities are air-to-ground attacks, although it will also be able to take part in air-to-air missions.
The U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps will all use the new jet. The F-35 fighter will replace the F-16 in the Air Force, and the F/A-18 and Av-8 (Harrier) in the Marine Corps. The jet is expected to be introduced officially into the Air Force in 2011, the Marine Corps in 2014, and the Navy in 2016. The Royal Air Force and Navy of the United Kingdom have also made requests for the new fighters.
There are three versions of the F-35 fighter: the F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C. The F-35A is made with a conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) system. The F-35B is made for short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL). The F-35C is made for use on carrier ships.
The F-35 is made with the latest fighter aircraft technology to give its pilots a big edge over his enemies. The F-35 combines the stealth of an SR-71 and F-22 with the vertical take-off capabilities of a Harrier (for the F-35B). The fighters are each armed with two GAU-22/A Gatling-style, four-barrel 25mm rotary cannons. For the A and C models, the fighter can carry two air-to-air missiles and two more air-to-air or air-to-ground weapons. The B model will hold two air-to-air missiles and two bombs.
One of the most advanced systems as part of the new F-35 fighter and probably the coolest feature of the aircraft is the helmet-mounted display system. The F-35 does not need to point at a target in order to ensure accuracy. It uses a radio frequency and infra red to target enemies and displays targets on the new helmet display. So the new F-35 helmets will be similar to the one used by Tony Stark in his Iron Man suit.
This new system will replace the old heads-up display system. This new way of targeting enemies may seem to mean pilots won’t need good accuracy. But in the end, I’d rather have better accuracy overall (which is what these fighters will provide) than making sure that pilots themselves have good aim. It’s too bad this cool new military surplus item isn’t available to the general public. But I guess we wouldn’t really have a good use for it.
It would definitely be cool to pilot one of the new F-35 fighters. But even though most of us won’t get the chance to, we can be happy to just know that our soldiers will have the most advanced fighter jet in the world protecting our country.
Written by Craig Kent, member of the Best Military Surplus team.