The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighters undergoing final development and testing by the United States. The fifth generation combat aircraft is designed to perform ground attack, aerial reconnaissance, and air defense missions. The F-35 has three main models: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier-based Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) variant. On 31 July 2015, the first squadron was declared ready for deployment after intensive testing by the United States.
The F-35 is descended from the X-35, which was the winning design of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. It is being designed and built by an aerospace industry team led by Lockheed Martin. Other major F-35 industry partners include Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney and BAE Systems. The F-35 took its first flight on 15 December 2006. The United States plans to buy 2,457 aircraft. The F-35 variants are intended to provide the bulk of the manned tactical airpower of the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps over the coming decades. Deliveries of the F-35 for the U.S. military are scheduled to be completed in 2037.
F-35 JSF development is being principally funded by the United States with additional funding from partners. The partner nations are either NATO members or close U.S. allies. The United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Canada, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Turkey are part of the active development program; several additional countries have ordered, or are considering ordering, the F-35.
JSF program requirements
- F-35A, conventional take off and landing (CTOL) variant.
- F-35B, short-take off and vertical-landing (STOVL) variant.
- F-35C, carrier-based CATOBAR (CV) variant.
The development of the F-35 is unusual for a fighter aircraft in that no two-seat trainer versions have been built for any of the variants; advanced flight simulators mean that no trainer versions were deemed necessary. Instead F-16s have been used as bridge trainers between the T-38 and the F-35. The T-X was intended to be used to train future F-35 pilots, but this might succumb to budget pressures in the USAF.
UK named as repair hub for F-35 jets in defence industry boost: Here
F-35B stealth jets in Japan for first overseas deployment: Here
Must Read: F-35 Continues to Stumble: Here
Poll: 54% of Americans Want The F-35 Program Scrapped: Here
VOP conducted its poll online between Dec. 20, 2015, and Feb. 1, 2016. Surveying 7,126 registered voters who belong to its “Citizen Cabinet” advisory panel, in eight states scattered across the nation, VOP posed a series of questions concerning the U.S. defense budget.
Among other revelations, VOP’s poll showed that Americans generally favor cutting defense spending on the Air Force (by $2 billion annually), the Army ($4 billion), Navy ($2 billion), nuclear weapons ($3 billion), and missile defense ($1 billion). Perhaps the most surprising revelation from the poll, though, was the sentiment among voters for what is now President Trump’s new favorite military jet.
Of those polled, 54% wanted to end production of the F-35.
Lockheed Martin’s development roadmap extends until 2021, including a Block 6 engine improvement in 2019. The aircraft are expected to be upgraded throughout their operational lives.
In September 2013, Northrop Grumman revealed the development of a company-funded Directional Infrared Counter Measures system in anticipation of a requirement to protect the F-35 from heat-seeking missiles. A laser jammer is expected to be part of the F-35 Block 5 upgrade; it must meet low-observability (LO) requirements and fit in the F-35’s restricted space. Called the Threat Nullification Defensive Resource (ThNDR), it is to have a small, powerful laser, beam steering and LO window, use liquid cooling, and fit alongside the distributed aperture system (DAS) to provide spherical coverage with minimal changes; the DAS would provide missile warning and cue the jam head.
Combat capabilities of the F-35 are made possible through software increments to advance technical abilities. Block 2A software enhanced simulated weapons, data link capabilities, and early fused sensor integration. Block 2B software enables the F-35 to provide basic close air support with certain JDAMs and the 500 lb GBU-12 Paveway II, as well as fire the AIM-120 AMRAAM. The Air Force is to declare the F-35 initially operational with Block 3i software. Full operational capability will come from Block 3F software; Block 3F enhances its ability to suppress enemy air defenses and enables the Lightning II to deploy the 500 lb JDAM, the GBU-53/B SDB II, and the AIM-9X Sidewinder. Block 4 software will increase the weapons envelope of the F-35 and is made to counter air defenses envisioned to be encountered past the 2040s. Block 4 upgrades will be broken into two increments; Block 4A in 2021 and Block 4B in 2023. This phase will also include usage of weaponry unique to British, Turkish, and other European countries who will operate Lightning II.
Lockheed has offered the potential of “Higher Definition Video, longer range target detection and identification, Video Data Link, and Infrared (IR) Marker and Pointer” for the EOTS in future upgrades.
Some improvements over current-generation fighter aircraft are:
- Durable, low-maintenance stealth technology, using structural fiber mat instead of the high-maintenance coatings of legacy stealth platforms;
- Integrated avionics and sensor fusion that combine information from off- and on-board sensors to increase the pilot’s situational awareness and improve target identification and weapon delivery, and to relay information quickly to other command and control (C2) nodes
- High speed data networking including IEEE 1394b and Fibre Channel. (Fibre Channel is also used on Boeing’s Super Hornet.)
- The Autonomic Logistics Global Sustainment (ALGS), Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) and Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) are to help ensure aircraft uptime with minimal maintenance manpower. The Pentagon has moved to open up the competitive bidding by other companies. This was after Lockheed Martin stated that instead of costing twenty percent less than the F-16 per flight hour, the F-35 would actually cost twelve percent more. Though the ALGS is intended to reduce maintenance costs, the company disagrees with including the cost of this system in the aircraft ownership calculations. The USMC have implemented a workaround for a cyber vulnerability in the system. The ALIS system currently requires a shipping container load of servers to run, but Lockheed is working on a more portable version to support the Marines’ expeditionary operations.
- Electro-hydrostatic actuators run by a power-by-wire flight-control system.
- A modern and updated flight simulator, which may be used for a greater fraction of pilot training in order to reduce the costly flight hours of the actual aircraft.
- Lightweight, powerful Lithium-ion batteries potentially prone to thermal runaway, similar to those that have grounded the Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet. These are required to provide power to run the control surfaces in an emergency, and have been strenuously tested.
The Pratt & Whitney F135 powers the F-35. An alternative engine, the General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136, was being developed until it was cancelled by its manufacturers in December 2011 due to lack of funding from the Pentagon.
General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136
The F135 and F136 engines are not designed to supercruise. However, the F-35 can briefly fly at Mach 1.2 for 150 miles.The F135 is the second (radar) stealthy afterburning jet engine. Like the Pratt & Whitney F119 from which it was derived, the F135 has suffered afterburner pressure pulsations, or ‘screech’ at low altitude and high speed. 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.
F136 funding came at the expense of other program elements, impacting on unit costs. The F136 team stated their engine had a greater temperature margin, potentially critical for VTOL operations in hot, high altitude conditions. Pratt & Whitney tested higher thrust versions of the F135, partly in response to GE’s statements that the F136 is capable of producing more thrust than the 43,000 lbf (190 kN) of early F135s. In testing, the F135 has demonstrated a maximum thrust of over 50,000 lbf (220 kN); making it the most powerful engine ever installed in a fighter aircraft as of 2010. It is much heavier than previous fighter engines; the Heavy Underway Replenishment system needed to transfer the F135 between ships is an unfunded USN requirement. Thermoelectric-powered sensors monitor turbine bearing health.
GAU-22/A four barrel cannon
There are a total of four weapons stations between the two internal bays. Two of these can carry air-to-surface missiles up to 2,000 lb (910 kg) in A and C models, or two bombs up to 1,000 lb (450 kg) in the B model; the other two stations are for smaller weapons such as air-to-air missiles. The weapon bays can carry AIM-120 AMRAAM, AIM-132 ASRAAM, the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), Paveway series of bombs, the Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW), Brimstone anti-tank missiles, and cluster munitions (Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser). An air-to-air missile load of eight AIM-120s and two AIM-9s is possible using internal and external weapons stations; a configuration of six 2,000 lb (910 kg) bombs, two AIM-120s and two AIM-9s can also be arranged. The Terma A/S multi-mission pod (MMP) could be used for different equipment and purposes, such as electronic warfare, aerial reconnaissance, or rear-facing tactical radar.
Matra BAE Dynamics Alenia announced first Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles were delivered to USA for integration testing on the F-35: HERE
AIM-132 ASRAAM short-range air-to-air missiles (AAM)
MBDA lands order to arm Britain’s new stealth fighters: Here
ASRAAM design and features
The ASRAAM air-to-air missile can outperform all existing short-range missiles in close-in combat missions. It features low-drag design concept incorporating body lift technology.
The tail-controlled missile measures 2.9m in length, 166mm in diameter and 88kg in weight. It is fitted with high-explosive blast fragmentation warhead with impact and laser proximity fuses. The missile is also equipped with seeker detector cooling and self contained cooling engine.
The missile can be deployed using lock before launch capability to engage targets in the forward hemisphere. It can be launched in ‘lock after launch’ mode to engage targets beyond the seeker acquisition range.
The missile gathers target positional data from aircraft sensors including radar or helmet mounted sight during close-in combat missions when target is located outside the off-boresight and visual limits of seeker. This capability ensures the aircraft’s crew to perform over-the-shoulder firing in ‘lock after launch’ mode.
Missile guidance and sensors
The ASRAAM weapon is guided by an advanced, accurate focal plane array Imaging Infra-Red (IIR) seeker developed by Raytheon. The passive homing guidance system provides the ability to significantly track, acquire and engage targets beyond visual range (BVR) under severe clutter and countermeasures environmental situations.
Imaging Infra-Red (IIR) seeker developed by Raytheon
The missile collects the target data using fibre optic gyro sensors and solid state accelerometers, stabilised in three axes. It can also gather target information from autonomous infrared search and track system.
Propulsion for the short range air-to-air missile
A low signature rocket motor is fitted to drive the ASRAAM short range missile. It provides superior acceleration and range throughout the flight. The motor also allows ASRAAM to quickly intercept any target and gives it a speed of about Mach 3.
The Common Anti-air Modular Missile (CAMM): Details
Britain’s MoD awarded MBDA Systems $698 million missile contracts: Here
Meteor – Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM)
Design of the Meteor missile system
The missile, being designed as a complete unit, requires no assembly and maintenance immediately before loading. This arrangement reduces its overall life logistic support cost.
Meteor can be launched as a stealth missile. It is equipped with enhanced kinematics features. It is capable of striking different types of targets simultaneously in almost any weather.
The Meteor has a length of 3.65m and diameter of 0.178m. It is designed to be compatible with AIM-120 type rail and eject launcher systems.
Meteor BVRAAM blast-fragmentation warhead
The Meteor missile is equipped with a blast-fragmentation warhead, supplied by TDW of Germany. The warhead is designed as a structural component of the missile. The missile integrates proximity and impact fuses.
Sensors on the beyond visual range air-to-air missile
The Meteor is equipped with a two way datalink, which allows the launch platform to provide updates on targets or re-targeting when the missile is in flight. The datalink is capable of transmitting information such as kinematic status. It also notifies target acquisition by the seeker.
The Meteor is installed with an active radar target seeker, offering high reliability in detection, tracking and classification of targets. The missile also integrates inertial measurement system (IMS) supplied by Litef.
Meteor missile performance
The missile has a range in excess of 100km. It is designed for a speed greater than Mach 4. The missile has a large no escape zone.
Propulsion system on the next generation missile
The Meteor missile is powered by a solid fuel variable flow ducted rocket (ramjet) supplied by Bayern-Chemie. The ramjet provides the Meteor missile with a capability to maintain consistent high speeds. This ability helps the missile to chase and destroy fast moving flexible targets.
The Meteor includes an electronics and propulsion control unit (EPCU). The EPCU adjusts the rocket’s air intake and duct covers based on the cruise speed and the target’s altitude.
The EPCU observes the distance and fuel level in the rocket and adjusts the throttle of the rocket. This feature of the EPCU helps the missile to manage its fuel system. Source airforce-technology.com
|WEIGHT||185 kg (407 lb)|
|LENGTH||3.65 m (12 ft 0 in)|
|DIAMETER||0.178 m (7.0 in)|
|WARHEAD||High explosive blast-fragmentation|
|ENGINE||Throttleable ducted rocket|
|100+ km(63mi, 60 km No Escape Zone)[N 1]|
|SPEED||over Mach 4|
|Inertial guidance, mid-course update via datalink, terminal active radar homing|
Saab JAS 39 Gripen
IRIS-T missile short-range air-to-air missiles Brimstone anti-tank missiles
USAF reveals slimmed-down SACM air-to-air missile concept: HERE
Cuda @alternathistory.comJoint Standoff Weapon (JSOW)
Paveway IV dropped from F-35: Here
Image: BAE Systems Terma A/S multi-mission pod (MMP) could be used for different equipment and purposes, such as electronic warfare, aerial reconnaissance, or rear-facing tactical radar.
F-35B Airborne Gunfire Testing Complete
Lockheed Martin states that the weapons load can be configured as all-air-to-ground or all-air-to-air, and has suggested that a Block 5 version will carry three weapons per bay instead of two, replacing the heavy bomb with two smaller weapons such as AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles. Upgrades are to allow each weapons bay to carry four GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs (SDB) for A and C models, or three in F-35B. Another option is four GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb IIs in each bay on all F-35 variants. The F-35A has been outfitted with four SDB II bombs and an AMRAAM missile to test adequate bay door clearance, as well as the C-model, but the VTOL F-35B will not be able to carry the required load of four SDB IIs in each weapons bay upon reaching IOC due to weight and dimension constraints; F-35B bay changes are to be incorporated to increase SDB II loadout around 2022 in line with the Block 4 weapons suite. The Meteor (missile) air-to-air missile may be adapted for the F-35, a modified Meteor with smaller tailfins for the F-35 was revealed in September 2010; plans call for the carriage of four Meteors internally. The United Kingdom planned to use up to four AIM-132 ASRAAM missiles internally, later plans call for the carriage of two internal and two external ASRAAMs. The external ASRAAMs are planned to be carried on “stealthy” pylons; the missile allows attacks to slightly beyond visual range without employing radar.
Norway and Australia are funding an adaptation of the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) for the F-35. Under the designation Joint Strike Missile (JSM), it is to be the only cruise missile to fit the F-35’s internal bays; according to studies two JSMs can be carried internally with an additional four externally.
The F-35 is expected to take on the Wild Weasel mission, though there are no planned anti-radiation missiles for internal carriage. The B61 nuclear bomb was initially scheduled for deployment in 2017; as of 2012 it was expected to be in the early 2020s, and in 2014 Congress moved to cut funding for the needed weapons integration work. Norton A. Schwartz agreed with the move and said that “F-35 investment dollars should realign to the long-range strike bomber “NATO partners who are buying the F-35 but cannot afford to make them dual-capable want the USAF to fund the conversions to allow their Lightning IIs to carry thermonuclear weapons. The USAF is trying to convince NATO partners who can afford the conversions to contribute to funding for those that cannot. The F-35 Block 4B will be able to carry two B61 nuclear bombs internally by 2024.
Stealth and signatures
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 radar-absorbent materials in its construction, including fiber-mat. Unlike the previous generation of fighters, the F-35 was designed for very-low-observable characteristics. Besides radar stealth measures, the F-35 incorporates infrared signature and visual signature reduction measures.
The small bumps just forward of the engine air intakes form part of the diverterless supersonic inlet (DSI) which is a simpler, lighter means to ensure high-quality airflow to the engine over a wide range of conditions. These inlets also crucially improve the aircraft’s very-low-observable characteristics (by eliminating radar reflections between the diverter and the aircraft’s skin). Additionally, the “bump” surface reduces the engine’s exposure to radar, significantly reducing a strong source of radar reflection because they provide an additional shielding of engine fans against radar waves. The Y-duct type air intake ramps also help in reducing radar cross-section (RCS), because the intakes run parallel and not directly into the engine fans.
The F-35’s radar-absorbent materials are designed to be more durable and less maintenance-intensive than those of its predecessors. At optimal frequencies, the F-35 compares favorably to the F-22 in stealth, according to General Mike Hostage, Commander of the Air Combat Command. Like other stealth fighters, however, the F-35 is more susceptible to detection by Low-frequency radars due to the Rayleigh scattering resulting from the aircraft’s physical size. However, such radars are also conspicuous, susceptible to clutter, and have low precision. Although fighter-sized stealth aircraft could be detected by low-frequency radar, missile lock and targeting sensors primarily operate in the X-band, which F-35 RCS reduction is made for, so they cannot engage unless at close range. Because the aircraft’s shape is important to the RCS, special care must be taken to match the “boilerplate” during production. Ground crews require Repair Verification Radar (RVR) test sets to verify the RCS after performing repairs, which is not a concern for non-stealth aircraft.
The F-35 features a full-panel-width glass cockpit touchscreen “panoramic cockpit display” (PCD), with dimensions of 20 by 8 inches (50 by 20 centimeters). A cockpit speech-recognition system (DVI) provided by Adacel has been adopted on the F-35 and the aircraft will be the first operational U.S. fixed-wing aircraft to employ this DVI system, although similar systems have been used on the AV-8B Harrier II and trialled in previous aircraft, such as the F-16 VISTA.
See details of Gen III helmet: HERE
A helmet-mounted display system (HMDS) will be fitted to all models of the F-35. While some fighters have offered HMDS along with a head up display (HUD), this will be the first time in several decades that a front line fighter has been designed without a HUD. The F-35 is equipped with a right-hand HOTAS side stick controller. The Martin-Baker US16E ejection seat is used in all F-35 variants.
Martin-Baker US16E ejection seat
Martin-Baker US16E ejection seat
The US16E seat design balances major performance requirements, including safe-terrain-clearance limits, pilot-load limits, and pilot size; it uses a twin-catapult system housed in side rails. This industry standard ejection seat can cause the heavier than usual helmet to inflict serious injury on lightweight pilots. The F-35 employs an oxygen system derived from the F-22’s own system, which has been involved in multiple hypoxia incidents on that aircraft; unlike the F-22, the flight profile of the F-35 is similar to other fighters that routinely use such systems.
Exclusive: USAF Weighing Replacement F-35 Ejection Seat: Here
ACES 5 ejection seat
Four ways upgraded ejection seat modifications can keep our pilots safe
UTC Aerospace Systems, the primary supplier for the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and the sole ejection seat manufacturer in the U.S. Their latest ejection seat, the ACES 5, is designed to address the variables at play in an ejection sequence and provides significant safety improvements, all with the aim of saving a pilot’s life and minimizing injury. Since its introduction in the late 1970s, ACES II has saved more than 620 aircrew members.
Better seat technology to accommodate newer pilot head gear: Advances in military gear means pilots can now be wearing helmet-mounted devices like night vision goggles while in flight. According to an article in Forbes, “although these devices greatly enhance situational awareness and safety under normal flying conditions, they can become killers in an emergency escape using current ejection seats.” The ACES 5 addresses this issue by providing passive head and neck protection (PHNP) that acts like a catcher’s mitt, cushioning and supporting the head and neck to avoid the “slam back” from the high speed wind streams associated with the ejection.
Passive leg and arm restraints: The ACES 5 seat includes passive leg and arm restraints that help keep a pilot’s limbs close to the body, avoiding harm as they are catapulted out of the plane at high speed and preventing flailing injuries that can cause serious injury or death.
Upgraded parachute performance: In order to better protect the pilot, the ACES 5’s upgraded parachute slows descent rate while significantly minimizing pilot oscillation, which reduces the landing injury rates to pilots by over 50%. Historically, 43% of all ejection event related injuries occurred during the “parachute landing fall”.
Smart rocket motors: During an ejection sequence, not all pilots are created equal. Typically, ejections are less safe for female pilots because they are much lighter than male pilots. Unlike foreign seat designs, the ACES 5 rocket catapult uses a variable burn profile to provide more energy for heavy pilots and less for lighter pilots, varying the “G” load forces between 9 to 12 G’s. This is coupled with the ACES 5’s unique gimbal stabilization package, optimizing rocket motor pointing and ensuring proper tail clearance and maximum terrain clearance. These two innovations reduce back injury risks to approximately 1%; far exceeding the Air Force overall injury risk requirement of 5% for pilots weighing between 103 and 245 lbs. By comparison, foreign seat designs can exceed 18 G’s for expanded aircrew sizes, resulting in higher head, neck and spinal injury rates. A Royal Air Force study of other ejection seats cited injury rates of nearly 30%.1
1M. Lewis, “Survivability and Injuries from Use of Rocket-Assisted Ejection Seats: Analysis of 232 Cases”, Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, Vol. 77, No. 9:936-943, Sept 2006.
Sensors and avionics
Electro-optical target system (EOTS) under the nose of the F-35
The F-35’s sensor and communications suite has situational awareness, command and control and network-centric warfare capabilities. The main sensor on board is the AN/APG-81 Active electronically scanned array-radar, designed by Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems. It is augmented by the nose-mounted Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS), it provides the capabilities of an externally mounted Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod pod with a reduced radar cross-section.
AN/APG-81 Active electronically scanned array-radar
The AN/ASQ-239 (Barracuda) system is an improved version of the F-22’s AN/ALR-94 electronic warfare suite, providing sensor fusion of Radio frequency and Infrared tracking functions, advanced radar warning receiver including geolocation targeting of threats, multispectral image countermeasures for self-defense against missiles, situational awareness and electronic surveillance, employing 10 radio frequency antennae embedded into the edges of the wing and tail. In September 2015, Lockheed unveiled the “Advanced EOTS” that offers short-wave infrared, high-definition television, infrared marker, and superior image detector resolution capabilities. Offered for the Block 4 configuration, it fits into the same area as the baseline EOTS with minimal changes while preserving stealth features.
AN/AAQ-37 Distributed Aperture System (DAS)
The only 360 degree, spherical situational awareness system
Northrop Grumman has developed the only 360 degree, spherical situational awareness system in the electro-optical distributed aperture system (DAS). The DAS surrounds the aircraft with a protective sphere of situational awareness. It warns the pilot of incoming aircraft and missile threats as well as providing day/night vision, fire control capability and precision tracking of wingmen/friendly aircraft for tactical maneuvering.
Designated the AN/AAQ-37 and comprising six electro-optical sensors, the full EO DAS will enhance the F-35’s survivability and operational effectiveness by warning the pilot of incoming aircraft and missile threats, providing day/night vision and supporting the navigation function of the F-35 Lightning II’s forward-looking infrared sensor.
The DAS provides:
- Missile detection and tracking
- Launch point detection
- Situational awareness IRST & cueing
- Weapons support
- Day/night navigation
In addition to developing the EO DAS, Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems is supplying the F-35’s AN/APG-81 advanced electronically scanned array (AESA) fire-control radar. The AESA radar is designed to enable the pilot to effectively engage air and ground targets at long range, while also providing outstanding situational awareness.
F-35 DAS and APG-81 radar demonstrate ability to detect, track, target ballistic missiles
Northrop Grumman Corporation recently demonstrated the ballistic missile detection, tracking and targeting capabilities of the company’s AN/AAQ-37 distributed aperture system (DAS) and AN/APG-81 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, both of which are featured on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft. Northrop Grumman’s DAS and APG-81 autonomously detected, tracked and targeted multiple, simultaneous ballistic rockets. The DAS autonomously detected all five rockets, launched in rapid succession, and tracked them from initial launch well past the second stage burnout. Press release | Watch the video.
F-35 DAS demonstrates hostile fire detection capability
While being flown on Northrop Grumman’s BAC 1-11 test aircraft, the DAS detected and located tank fire from an operationally significant distance. In addition to artillery, the system is able to simultaneously detect and pinpoint the location of rockets and anti-aircraft artillery fired in a wide area. Although hostile fire detection is not an F-35 requirement for the DAS, the system design makes it ideal for this mission. This inherent capability enables DAS to harvest, process and deliver key battlespace information to ground forces and other aircraft autonomously, without the need for cueing or increasing pilot workload. Press release | Watch the video.
Six additional passive infrared sensors are distributed over the aircraft as part of Northrop Grumman‘s electro-optical AN/AAQ-37 Distributed Aperture System (DAS), which acts as a missile warning system, reports missile launch locations, detects and tracks approaching aircraft spherically around the F-35, and replaces traditional night vision devices. All DAS functions are performed simultaneously, in every direction, at all times. The electronic warfare systems are designed by BAE Systems and include Northrop Grumman components. Functions such as the Electro-Optical Targeting System and the electronic warfare system are not usually integrated on fighters. The F-35’s DAS is so sensitive, it reportedly detected the launch of an air-to-air missile in a training exercise from 1,200 mi (1,900 km) away, which in combat would give away the location of an enemy aircraft even if it had a very low radar cross-section.
The electronic warfare and electro-optical systems are intended to detect and scan aircraft, allowing engagement or evasion of a hostile aircraft prior to being detected. The CATbird avionics testbed has proved capable of detecting and jamming radars, including the F-22’s AN/APG-77. The F-35 was previously considered a platform for the Next Generation Jammer; attention shifted to using unmanned aircraft in this capacity instead. Several subsystems use Xilinx FPGAs; these COTS components enable supply refreshes from the commercial sector and fleet software upgrades for the software-defined radio systems.
Helmet-mounted display system
VSI Helmet-mounted display system for the F-35
In July 2015, an F-35 pilot commented that the helmet may have been one of the issues that the F-35 faced while dogfighting against an F-16 during a test; “The helmet was too large for the space inside the canopy to adequately see behind the aircraft. There were multiple occasions when the bandit would’ve been visible (not blocked by the seat) but the helmet prevented getting in a position to see him (behind the high side of the seat, around the inside of the seat, or high near the lift vector).
The F-35A is the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant intended for the U.S. Air Force and other air forces. It is the smallest, lightest F-35 version and is the only variant equipped with an internal cannon, the GAU-22/A. This 25 mm cannon is a development of the GAU-12 carried by the USMC’s AV-8B Harrier II. It is designed for increased effectiveness against ground targets compared to the 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannon carried by other USAF fighters.
The F-35B is the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the aircraft. Similar in size to the A variant, the B sacrifices about a third of the other version’s fuel volume to accommodate the vertical flight system. Vertical takeoffs and landings are riskier due to threats such as foreign object damage. Whereas the F-35A is stressed to 9 g, the F-35B’s stress goal is 7 g. As of 2014, the F-35B is limited to 4.5 g and 400 knots. Next software upgrade includes weapons, 5.5 g and Mach 1.2, with a final target of 7 g and Mach 1.6. The first test flight of the F-35B was conducted on 11 June 2008. Another milestone, the first successful ski-jump launch was carried out by BAE test pilot Peter Wilson on 24 June 2015.
The United States Marine Corps plans to purchase 340 F-35Bs, to replace current inventories of both the F/A-18 Hornet (A, B, C and D-models), and the AV-8B Harrier II, in the fighter and attack roles.
Compared to the F-35A, the F-35C carrier variant features larger wings with foldable wingtip sections, larger wing and tail control surfaces for improved low-speed control, stronger landing gear for the stresses of carrier arrested landings, a twin-wheel nose gear, and a stronger tailhook for use with carrier arrestor cables. The larger wing area allows for decreased landing speed while increasing both range and payload.
The United States Navy intends to buy 480 F-35Cs to replace the F/A-18A, B, C, and D Hornets and complement the Super Hornet fleet.
The F-35I is an F-35A with Israeli modifications. A senior Israel Air Force official stated “the aircraft will be designated F-35I, as there will be unique Israeli features installed in them”. Despite an initial refusal to allow such modifications, the U.S. has agreed to let Israel integrate its own electronic warfare systems, such as sensors and countermeasures, into the aircraft. The main computer will have a plug-and-play feature to allow add-on Israeli electronics to be used; proposed systems include an external jamming pod, and new Israeli air-to-air missiles and guided bombs in the internal weapon bays. Israeli pilots are scheduled to start F-35 training in December 2016 at Eglin AFB Florida with the first squadron activated about a year later.
Israel negotiating for up to 25 Advanced F-15 (2040c) should be completed before any additional F-35s are purchased: Here
Negotiations about a possible follow-on purchase of advanced Boeing F-15s for the Israeli air force are continuing, as the nation’s cabinet seeks a possible alternative to acquiring additional Lockheed Martin F-35s.
In November 2016, the Israeli government approved the purchase of another 17 F-35Is, bringing to 50 the number of “Adir” strike aircraft planned for its air force.
The service has been evaluating a purchase of more F-15Is to maintain its desired mix of strike aircraft with the F-35 to satisfy future operational needs. Its initial requirement was identified as for 75 F-35s, but the need to replace the oldest examples of its Boeing-built fighter has become a high priority issue. Israel has operated the twin-engined type since 1976.
Testing of Israeli-made weapons systems is currently underway for F-35I: Here
Israel’s first pair of conventional take-off and landing F-35A Adirs are scheduled to arrive on 12 December. The aircraft will then be equipped with additional electronic systems, enabling the fast processing of a large volume of real-time intelligence data.
“The Israeli air force’s F-35s will have operational capabilities that are unique and tailored to answer Israeli needs,” a service source notes.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has developed its own (C4) system for the F-35: HERE
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has considered playing a role in the development of a proposed two-seat F-35; an IAI executive stated: “There is a known demand for two seats not only from Israel but from other air forces.” IAI plans to produce conformal fuel tanks. A senior IAF official stated that elements of the F-35’s stealth may be overcome in 5 to 10 years, while the aircraft will be in service for 30 to 40 years, which is why Israel insisted on installing their own electronic warfare systems: “The basic F-35 design is OK. We can make do with adding integrated software.” Israel is interested in purchasing up to 75 F-35s.
ISRAEL’S F-35I FIGHTER’S C4 SYSTEMS ENTER PRODUCTION: Here
The systems developed exclusively for the F-35I by IAI’s LAHAV Division are part of IAI’s cutting edge ‘tactical C4 architecture‘ introducing unique force multipliers in the modern, networked battle arena. The induction of advanced systems of this type with the Israel Air Force (IAF) combat fleet will enable the IAF to better manage, and rapidly field networked applications that interface with core services, over proprietary protocols developed especially for the IAF.
Using generic communications infrastructure based on the latest Software Defined Radios (SDR), IAI new C4 system developed for the Adir will provide the backbone of the IAF future airborne communications network. This network will offer a dramatic improvement over legacy systems currently operating with the current fleet of 4th Generation aircraft (F-16, F-15).
Israel’s new F-35 ‘Adir’ takes to the skies: Here
On its maiden flight at US manufacturer Lockheed-Martin, Israel’s first F-35 Lightning II “Adir” (Hebrew for “Great One”) passed all tests, and is due to be delivered in December.
A lighter version of the F-22, the F-35 Lightning II Adir has top-of-the-line stealth technology, highly sensitive sensors of every kind, and fuel-optimizing computer systems to keep it in the air.
Israel was the first country to buy the fighter jet under the US’s Foreign Military Sales process. A Letter of Agreement was signed in October 2010.
The Canadian CF-35 is a proposed variant that would differ from the F-35A through the addition of a drogue parachute and may include an F-35B/C-style refueling probe. In 2012, it was revealed that the CF-35 would employ the same boom refueling system as the F-35A. One alternative proposal would have been the adoption of the F-35C for its probe refueling and lower landing speed; the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s report cited the F-35C’s limited performance and payload as being too high a price to pay.Following the 2015 Federal Election, in which the Liberal Party, whose campaign had included a pledge to cancel the F-35 procurement, won a majority in the House of Commons, and stated it would run a new competition for an aircraft to replace the existing CF-18 Hornet.
Early-stage design study for a possible upgrade of the F-35A to be fielded by the 2035 target date of the Air Force Future Operating Concept.
The Changing Cost of the F-35 in Charts: Here
Norway testing drogue parachute braking system for F-35s: Here
Norway has begun testing a drogue parachute braking system for use on F-35 Lightning II aircraft ordered from the United States, the Ministry of Defense says.
The Norwegian testing of the system, which will help the aircraft land on icy and windy runways, began Easter Sunday using a specially instrumented AF-2 jet.
The Ministry said the testing is a two-stage program. The first stage tests is to evaluate how an F-35 would behavesin the air with a fitted drogue parachute, and how the drogue parachute would function on dry and wet runways.
Singapore puts off decision on whether to buy Lockheed’s F-35: Here
Singapore has put on hold a decision to buy as many as 12 of Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 jets, according to information from the Pentagon’s program office.
The island nation’s permanent secretary of defence development informed the US in mid-June that it was delaying final steps toward purchasing four of the fighters by about 2022, with an option to buy eight more, according to the information presented to Pentagon officials last month as part of their regular reviews of the costliest weapons program.
Data from Lockheed Martin specifications, F-35 Program brief, F-35 JSF Statistics F-35 Program Status
- Crew: 1
- Length: 50.5 ft (15.67 m)
- Wingspan: 35 ft (10.7 m)
- Height: 14.2 ft(4.33 m)
- Wing area: 460 ft² (42.7 m²)
- Empty weight: 29,098 lb (13,199 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
- Internal fuel capacity: 18,498 lb (8,382 kg)
- Maximum speed: Mach 1.6+ (1,200 mph, 1,930 km/h) (tested to Mach 1.61)
- Range: 1,200 nmi (2,220 km) on internal fuel
- Combat radius: 613 nmi (1,135 km) on internal fuel
- Wing loading: 107.7 lb/ft² (526 kg/m²; 745 kg/m² max loaded)
- With full fuel: 0.87
- With 50% fuel: 1.07
- Maximum g-load: 9 g
- Guns: 1 × General Dynamics 25 mm (0.984 in) GAU-22/A 4-barrel Gatling gun, internally mounted with 180 rounds
- Hardpoints: 6 × external pylons on wings with a capacity of 15,000 lb (6,800 kg) and two internal bays with two pylons with a capacity of 3,000 (1,360 kg) for a total weapons payload of 18,000 lb (8,100 kg)and provisions to carry combinations of:
- Air-to-air missiles:
- Air-to-surface missiles:
- Anti-ship missiles:
- Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems AN/APG-81 AESA radar
- Lockheed Martin AAQ-40 E/O Targeting System (EOTS)
- Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems AN/AAQ-37 Distributed Aperture System (DAS) missile warning system
- BAE Systems AN/ASQ-239 (Barracuda) electronic warfare system
- Northrop Grumman AN/ASQ-242 CNI system, which includes
- The Harris Corporation Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) communication system
- The legacy Link 16 data link
- An IFF interrogator and transponder
- HAVE QUICK
- AM, VHF, UHF AM, and UHF FM Radio
- GUARD survival radio
- A radar altimeter
- An instrument landing system
- A TACAN system
- An instrument carrier landing system
- A JPALS
- TADIL-J JVMF/VMF
Source: wikipedia.org/from the net
Updated May 22, 2017