The F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF), is being developed by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company for the US Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps and the UK Royal Navy.
The stealthy, supersonic multirole fighter was designated the F-35 Lightning II in July 2006. The JSF is being built in three variants: a conventional take-off and landing aircraft (CTOL) for the US Air Force; a carrier variant (CV) for the US Navy; and a short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft for the US Marine Corps and the Royal Navy. A 70%-90% commonality is required for all variants.
The requirement is for: USAF F-35A air-to-ground strike aircraft, replacing F-16 and A-10, complementing F-22 (1763); USMC F-35B – STOVL strike fighter to replace F/A-18B/C and AV-8B (480); UK RN F-35C – STOVL strike fighter to replace Sea Harriers (60); US Navy F-35C – first-day-of-war strike fighter to replace F/A-18B/C and A-6, complementing the F/A-18E/F (480 aircraft).
Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) development
The Lockheed Martin JSF team includes Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Pratt and Whitney and Rolls-Royce. Final assembly of the aircraft took place at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth plant in Texas.
Major subassemblies were produced by Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems at El Segundo, California and BAE Systems at Samlesbury, Lancashire, England. BAE Systems is responsible for the design and integration of the aft fuselage, horizontal and vertical tails and the wing-fold mechanism for the CV variant, using experience from the Harrier STOVL programme. Terma of Denmark and Turkish Aerospace Industries of Turkey are supplying sub-assemblies for the centre fuselage.
In January 2001, the UK MoD signed a memorandum of understanding to co-operate in the SDD (system development and demonstration) phase of JSF and, in September 2002, selected the STOVL variant to fulfil the future joint combat aircraft (FJCA) requirement. Following the contract award, other nations signed up to the SDD phase are: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore and Turkey.
The development of the centre fuselage for the first international F-35 joint strike fighter began on 30 October 2009. It is being developed by Northrop Grumman, principally for the UK. The centre fuselage including composite air inlet ducts were supplied by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI).
The F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant, designated BK-1, completed its assembly in November 2011. It will be delivered to the UK Ministry of Defence by 2012. The variant is being developed as part of the low-rate initial production (LRIP) 3 and is expected to produce 138 F-35Bs for the UK.
Training centre at Elgin Air Force Base and F-35 operational bases
An integrated training centre for the F-35 fighter programme has been set up at Elgin Air Force Base in the US. The training centre was inaugurated in November 2010 and will be fully operational by 2013.
A total of 11 base locations were unveiled for the F-35 Lightning joint strike fighter. Of the 11, six were selected to carry out operations and five to be training bases.
The six bases implementing F-35 operations are Burlington International Airport Guard Station, Vermont; Hill AFB, Utah; Jacksonville International Airport Air Guard Station, Florida; Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; Shaw AFB, South Carolina; and McEntire Air Guard Base, South Carolina. The five bases for training purposes are Boise Air Terminal Air Guard Station, Idaho; Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico; Luke AFB, Arizona; and Tucson International Airport Air Guard Station, Arizona.
The selected locations will be finalised after implementing environmental impact analysis.
Concept demonstration phase led by Boeing and Lockheed
The concept demonstration phase of the programme began in November 1996 with the award of contracts to two consortia, led by Boeing Aerospace and Lockheed Martin. The contracts involved the building of demonstrator aircraft for three different configurations of JSF, with one of the two consortia to be selected for the development and manufacture of all three variants.
In October 2001, an international team led by Lockheed Martin was awarded the contract to build JSF. An initial 22 aircraft (13 flying test aircraft and eight ground-test aircraft) will be built in the programme’s system development and demonstration (SDD) phase. Flight testing will be carried out at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Maryland.
In April 2003, JSF completed a successful preliminary design review (PDR). The critical design review (CDR) for the F-35A was completed in February 2006, for the F-35B in October 2006 and for the F-35C in June 2007. The first flight of the CTOL F-35A took place on 15 December 2006.
Low-rate initial production (LRIP) for the F-35A/B was approved in April 2007 with an order for two CTOL aircraft. An LRIP 2 contract for six CTOL aircraft was placed in July 2007. The STOVL F-35B was rolled out in December 2007 and made its first flight, a conventional take-off and landing, in June 2008. STOVL flights began in early 2009. An LRIP contract for six F-35B STOVL aircraft was placed in July 2008.
First flights of Lockheed’s F-35 variations
The F-35C took off on its first flight in November 2011. The F-35A fighter was delivered to Eglin Air Force Base in October 2011 and is under functional test; the F-35B was inaugurated in October 2011.
The first flight of the F-35 is powered by the GE Rolls-Royce F136 engine. Critical design review was completed in February 2008.
By the end of 2006, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and the UK had signed the MoU for the F-35 Production, Sustainment and Follow-on Development (PSFD) phase.
Norway and Turkey (requirement 100 F-35A) signed in January 2007. Denmark and Italy (requirement 131 F-35A and B) signed in February 2007. In May 2008, Israel requested the sale of 25 F-35A aircraft with 50 options.
Participating nations were to sign up to the initial operation test and evaluation (IOT&E) phase by the end of February 2009. In October 2008, Italy announced that it intended not to participate in the IOT&E.
In September 2004, Lockheed Martin announced that, following concerns over the weight of the STOVL F-35B, design changes had reduced the aircraft weight by 1,225kg while increasing propulsion efficiency and reducing drag. The weight requirements will also call for a smaller internal weapons bay than on the other variants.
International orders and deliveries to forces in the UK, US and Canada
The USAF ordered 32 new F-35A aircraft in 2010. USMC ordered 16 F-35B aircraft and is considering more 13 more aircraft. The USN ordered seven F-35Bs aircraft in 2009, and 12 F-35s were delivered to the US in 2011.
The UK ordered two F-35B’s in 2009 and one F-35C in 2010. The Netherlands ordered three F-35A aircraft, one in 2010 and two in 2011. Australia decided to purchase 14 F-35A aircraft in October 2010.
Israel ordered 20 F-35I variant aircraft in 2010 following the Israeli Government’s decision to select the F-35 as its next-generation aircraft. In June 2011, the Norwegian Parliament unanimously approved the funding of four F-35 Lightning II training jets to stabilize Norway’s future air-combat capability requirements.
Canada also announced its choice of F-35 aircraft for its future fighter requirements. The Italian Parliament has approved the purchase of 131 F-35 aircraft and construction of a final assembly facility at Cameri Air Base.
Design differences between variants of the Joint Strike Fighter
In order to minimise the structural weight and complexity of assembly, the wingbox section integrates the wing and fuselage section into one piece. To minimise radar signature, sweep angles are identical for the leading and trailing edges of the wing and tail (planform alignment).
The fuselage and canopy have sloping sides. The seam of the canopy and the weapon bay doors are sawtoothed and the vertical tails are canted at an angle.
The marine variant of JSF is very similar to the air force variant, but with a slightly shorter range because some of the space used for fuel is used for the lift fan of the STOVL propulsion system.
The main differences between the naval variant and the other versions of JSF are associated with the carrier operations. The internal structure of the naval version is very strong to withstand the high loading of catapult-assisted launches and tailhook arrested landings.
The aircraft has larger wing and tail control surfaces for low-speed approaches for carrier landing. Larger leading edge flaps and foldable wingtip sections provide a larger wing area, which provides an increased range and payload capacity.
The canopy (supplied by GKN Aerospace), radar and most of the avionics are common to the three variants.
The centre fuselage assembling process includes loading of an all-composite air inlet duct into a special tooling structure called a jig, followed by 18 major steps such as bonding metal frames around the duct. The frames serve to brace and position the duct properly within the centre fuselage.
In 2017, Lockheed Martin awarded a contract to Harris Corp. to provide the computing infrastructure for new panoramic cockpit displays, advanced memory systems and navigation technology for its fifth-generation fighter jet, the F-35. Under the upgrade, every F-35 will receive new hardware and software to include seven racks per aircraft consisting of 1,500 module components such as new antennas and weapons release systems. Source avionicsmaintenancetoday.com
Cockpit and avionics systems from BAE Systems, Honeywell and Raytheon
L-3 Display Systems is developing the panoramic cockpit display system, which will include two 10in×8in active matrix liquid crystal displays and display management computer.
The following will also supply F-35 avionics systems:
- BAE Systems Avionics – side stick and throttle controls
- Vision Systems International (a partnership between Kaiser Electronics and Elbit of Israel) – advanced helmet-mounted display
- BAE Systems Platform Solutions – alternative design helmet-mounted display, based on the binocular helmet being developed for the Eurofighter Typhoon
- Ball Aerospace – communications, navigation and integration (CNI) integrated body antenna suite (one S-band, two UHF, two radar altimeter, three L-band antennas in each aircraft)
- Harris Corporation – advanced avionics systems, infrastructure, image processing, digital map software, fibre optics, high-speed communications links and part of the communications, navigation and information (CNI) system
- Honeywell – radar altimeter, inertial navigation / global positioning system (INS/GPS) and air data transducers
- Raytheon – 24-channel GPS with digital anti-jam receiver (DAR).
Martin-Baker US16E ejection seat
The US16E Ejection Seat provides an unprecedented balanced optimisation between key performance parameters such as safe terrain clearance limits, physiological loading limits, pilot boarding mass and anthropometric accommodation ranges to fully meet the F-35 Escape System requirements. The US16E will be common to all F-35 aircraft variants.
The US16E is the only Qualified Ejection Seat that meets the US Government defined Neck Injury Criteria (NIC) across the pilot accommodation range.
US16E EJECTION SEAT FOR F-35
- Operating Ceiling: 65,000ft (19,812m)
- Minimum height/Speed: Zero/zero in near level attitude
- Crew boarding mass range: 63.5 to 106.0 kg
- Crew size range: French Air Force specific crew size range, 3 – 98 percentile of estimated French pilot range in year 2015
- Maximum Speed for ejection: 625 KEAS
- Parachute type: GQ Type 5000
- Parachute deployment: Cartridge initiated
- Drogue parachute: Yes
- Drogue deployment: Cartridge initiated
- Aerosurface deployment system: Yes, gas operated
- Harness type: Combined
- Ejection seat operation type: Ejection guns and underseat rocket motor, Lateral thrust rocket motor (twin seat only)
- Ejection gun: Twin
- Ejection initiation: Handle on seat bucket initiates gas operated seat firing systemAutomatic
- Automatic back-up unit: No, manual override available
- Manual sequencer: Mechanical mode selector, used in combination with barostatic time-release unit
- Barostatic time-release unit: Yes + g-restrictor, cartridge initiated
- Timers: Drogue deployment unit timer
- Seat adjustment: Up/down actuator operated 28 Vdc
- Arm restraints: Yes
- Leg restraints: Passive leg restraint system
- Oxygen supply: Connection to On Board Oxygen Generating System (OBOGS), Emergency oxygen cylinder
- NBC equipment: Nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) ventilator
- Personal survival pack (PSP): Yes + automatic deployment and liferaft inflation
- Aircrew services: Aircrew services package, interface for breathing gas, NBC ventilation supply, mic/tel and helmet-mounted display system interface
- Command ejection: Yes
- Canopy jettison: No
- Canopy fracturing system: Yes, Canopy pyrotechnic cutting system
- Interseat Sequencing System (ISS): Yes, via mode selector
Gen III helmet
Revolutionary situational awareness
The next-generation user interface serves as the pilot’s primary display system, and virtual capabilities enable them to see through the bottom of the fuselage or directly at a target. With an uninterrupted display of flight information and sensor data, the pilot experiences extreme spatial orientation, superior weapons targeting, and tactical superiority–both day and night.
Integrated HUD, Display and Night Vision
The head-up display (HUD), helmet-mounted display, and visor-projected night vision are fully integrated to provide pilots with unprecedented capability in the fighter cockpit. They can target their weapons and maintain advanced spatial orientation while continually monitoring critical flight information.
Bi-ocular display system with full day and night vision
Advanced bi-ocular, 30-by-40-degree-wide field-of-view has 100 percent overlap. For night missions, the HMDS projects directly onto the visor, eliminating the need for separate night-vision goggles
The HMDS enables the pilot to target weapons by looking at and designating targets, and target verification when receiving steering cues from onboard sensors or via datalink.
High performance design with optimal center of gravity
The lightweight design has an optimal center of gravity and Active Noise Reduction (ANR). The custom helmet liner ensures precise fit and comfort for reduced pilot fatigue. Source rockwellcollins.com
Communications, Navigation and Identification (CNI) Avionics System
The Communications, Navigation and Identification (CNI) system is the most advanced integrated avionics system ever engineered. The integrated CNI is developed by Northrop Grumman and provides F-35 pilots with the capability of more than 27 avionics functions. Using software-defined radio technology, the CNI allows for simultaneous operation of multiple critical functions, such as identification friend or foe, precision navigation, and various voice and data communications, while greatly reducing size, weight and power demands.
• AM, VHF, UHF AM
– UHF FM, HAVEQUICK
– SINCGARS, VMF (220D)
• GUARD, Survival Radio
• IFF Interrogate/Transponder
• TADIL-J, JVMF/VMF (K-SERIES)
• RAD ALT, ILS, TACAN
• ICLS, JPALS
• LINK 16, MADL
• Voice Messaging, Voice Recognition
• Maintenance Intercom, Voice Synthesis
Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL)
The MADL is a high-data-rate, directional communications link that allows secure transmission of coordinated tactics and engagement for the fifth-generation fighter when operating in high-threat environments.
According to the Air Force, the F-35 has unprecedented situational awareness. The F-35’s advanced sensor package is designed to gather, fuse and distribute more information than any fighter in history, which gives pilots a decisive advantage over all adversaries.
“Having a common battlefield picture is one of the greatest assets in combat,” LeClair said. “This capability must be proven to be secure and ensure maximum interoperability between 4th and 5th-generation fighters. The F-35 has an incredible capability to show the entire tactical picture and being able to share this tactical picture with all forces is critical to maximizing lethality, survivability and minimizing the risk of fratricide.” Source realcleardefense.com
U-2 spyplane relays and translates data between F-22s and F-35s
A U-2 spyplane has successfully acted as an airborne interpreter and data-link between an F-22 Raptor and five F-35 Lightning IIs. The Project Hydra test by conducted by Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, the US Missile Defense Agency and the US Air Force demonstrates for the first time how the 5th Generation fighters can share data.
Ever since the F-22 was introduced in 2005, it’s been recognized as one of the most advanced and capable fighter planes in the world. However, it isn’t very good at directly sharing data with anything other than other F-22s. As a result, F-22 pilots are forced to convey the data that the fighter’s system gathers by using old-fashioned voice radio calls.
That may seem like an example of bad engineering, but it’s really a matter of clashing requirements. While the F-22 can receive radio signals by the standards set for US and NATO systems, the F-22 can’t transmit over those systems because the F-22 is designed to be stealthy. This means that they have to use the Intra-Flight Data Link (IFDL) radio transmitter, which is extremely difficult for hostile forces to detect and zero in on.
Meanwhile, the F-35 has a similar problem when it comes to talking to the F-22, because it also needs to be stealthy, so it uses the Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL). This was also supposed to be retroactively installed in the F-22, but that was cancelled due to budget cuts.
Project Hydra aims to overcome this communications bottleneck by using an Open Systems Gateway (OSG) payload installed in a high-flying U-2 spyplane, which both translates and relays the data between the F-22 and the F-35s, and also with units on the ground over a Tactical Targeting Network Terminal (TTNT) link. In addition, it also sends target tracks to each fighter’s avionics and pilot displays.
For the recent test, the data was sent to the US Army Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) Airborne Sensor Adaptation Kit (A-Kit), which relayed the data to the IBCS Tactical System Integration Laboratory (TSIL) at Fort Bliss, Texas, to support a simulated Army firing exercise using targeting data from the five F-35s. By using the U-2, the six aircraft remained connected with each other as well as global command and control units even when they were out of line-of-sight of one another.
“Project Hydra marks the first time that bi-directional communications were established between 5th Generation aircraft in-flight, while also sharing operational and sensor data down to ground operators for real-time capability,” says Jeff Babione, vice president and general manager, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. “This next-level connectivity reduces the data-to-decision timeline from minutes to seconds, which is critical in fighting today’s adversaries and advanced threats.” Source: Lockheed Martin
F-22 Raptor: Details
Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS)
Tactical Targeting Network Technology
Low-latency, ad hoc, IP-based networking for today’s warfighter
Rockwell Collins’ Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) is a secure and robust IP-based waveform that delivers the fastest ad hoc mesh network to the tactical edge. It’s a proven and mature system that instantly and accurately shares secure voice, video and data across a dynamic battlespace, meeting the rapidly changing networking needs of today’s warfighter.
Features & benefits
- Provides low-latency, ad hoc, IP-based networking to more than 200 users at any given time
- Self-forming and self-healing, so platforms automatically enter and leave the network without the advanced planning required with other networking options
- Allows for instant and accurate sharing of vast amounts of secure voice, video and data at speeds up to Mach 8
- Statistical priority-based multiple access (SPMA) protocol ensures critical data is sent and received by holding off the transmission of lower priority data until needed
- Strong anti-jam performance for contested environments that extends far beyond line-of-sight using multi-hop relay and automatic routing
- Platforms simultaneously transmit and receive up to four data streams
Weapons and armaments used on Lockheed Martin’s JSF
Weapons are carried in two parallel bays located in front of the landing gear. Each weapons bay is fitted with two hardpoints for carrying a range of bombs and missiles.
In “Beast Mode“, exploiting the internal weapon bays, the F-35 can carry up to 2x AIM-9X (pylons), 2x AIM-120 AMRAAM (internal bomb bay) and 4x GBU-31 2,000-lb (pylons) and 2x GBU-31 PGMs (internal bay). However, the loadout can be different, with lighter GBU-32s or GBU-12 500-lb LGB (Laser Guided Bombs) as shown in the following table:
The AIM-9X missile is the next generation Sidewinder. AIM-9X will provide US and allied nations fighters with the following capabilities: full day/night employment, resistance to countermeasures, extremely high off-boresight acquisition and launch envelopes, enhanced maneuverability and improved target acquisition ranges. One of the main breakthrough of the AIM-9X missile is a thrust vector controlled airframe. AIM-9X carries a contact fuze device and a new IR seeker that will enable, through the JHMCS, high off-boresight engagements. Its digital design architecture will ensure future growth capability.
Diameter: 130 millimeter (5.12 inch)
Length: 3 meter (118 inch)
Wingspan: 350 millimeter (13.8 inch)
Max Range: 26,000 meter (14.0 nautical mile)
Top Speed: 850 mps (3,061 kph)
Warhead: 10 kilogram (22.0 pound)
Weight: 85 kilogram (187 pound)
Weapons to be cleared for internal carriage include: JDAM (joint direct attack munition), CBU-105 WCMD (wind-corrected munitions dispenser) for the sensor-fused weapon, JSOW (joint stand-off weapon), Paveway IV guided bombs, small diameter bomb (SDB), AIM-120C AMRAAM air-to-air missile and Brimstone anti-armour missile; for external carriage: JASSM (joint air-to-surface stand-off missile), AIM-9X Sidewinder, AIM-132 ASRAAM and Storm Shadow cruise missile.
AGM-154 JSOW (joint stand-off weapon)
Platforms: Navy: F/A-18 C/D, F/A-18 E/F, AV-8B, F-35. Air Force: F-16 Block 40/50, B-1, B-2, B-52, F-15, F-117, A-10, F-35A.
Warhead: AGM-154A/145 BLU-97 combined-effects bomblets; AGM-154A-1, 500-pound BLU-111 warhead; AGM-154B, six P3I BLU-108 sensor-fuzed-weapon submunitions; AGM-154C, Broach multi-stage warhead.
The AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) precision strike weapon, manufactured by Raytheon Company, is a 1,000-pound air-to-surface missile that can carry several different lethal packages. The weapon’s standoff range of 12 to 63 nautical miles allows JSOW to remain outside the threat envelopes of enemy point defenses while effectively engaging and destroying targets. JSOW is integrated and in operational status on the F/A-18C/D/E/F, F-16, B-52, F-15E, B-1B and B-2 aircraft. Integration is underway on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. It is a joint Navy-Air Force program, with the Navy as the lead service.
Contractor: Raytheon Co.
Date Deployed: January 1999
Length: 160 inches
Diameter: 13 inches
Wingspan: 106 inches
Range: Low-altitude, 12 nautical miles; high-altitude, 63 nautical miles.
AIM-120C AMRAAM air-to-air missile
The AIM-120 AMRAAM is a medium-range, air-to-air missile designed to meet the requirements of the United States and allied nations. The AIM-120 missile is faster, smaller and lighter than its predecessor the AIM-7 Sparrow medium-range missile and also has improved capabilities against low-altitude targets. AMRAAM incorporates active radar seeker with mid-course inertial navigation making it less dependent on aircraft’s fire control radar. That capability enables simultaneous AMRAAM launching against different targets. For better performance AMRAAM can receive target location updates from the radar system of the launch aircraft. It has a blast fragmentation warhead detonated by a proximity fuse.
The AIM-120C missile is the latest AMRAAM variant and is reprogrammable like the AIM-120B. The AIM-120C has smaller control surfaces to fulfill F/A-22’s internal carriage requirements and also features an improved warhead. The AIM-120C missile has been sold successfully to many countries in two main variants the AIM-120C5 and the AIM-120C7. Beginning in 2008 the AIM-120C was replaced by the AIM-120D as the standard production model for the AMRAAM missile.
Diameter: 180 millimeter (7.09 inch)
Length: 3.65 meter (144 inch)
Wingspan: 450 millimeter (17.7 inch)
Max Range: 120 kilometer (65 nautical mile)
Top Speed: 4 mach (4,782 kph)
Warhead: 20 kilogram (44 pound)
Weight: 157 kilogram (346 pound)
Joint Strike Missile
The Joint Strike Missile – or JSM – is a long-distance, anti-ship missile designed to take on high-value, heavily defended targets. The long standoff range (distance from the aircraft to the target) ensures that the aircraft and pilots remain out of harm’s way.
JSM has sophisticated target acquisition capability that uses autonomous target recognition, made possible by an imaging infrared seeker. It is the only fifth-generation cruise missile that will be integrated onto the F-35 and also available for integration on other aircraft intended for offensive anti-surface warfare applications. Initial integration tests are being completed on the F-16 Fighting Falcon, with JSM specifically designed for the F-35 A/C weapons bay internal carriage.
- Advanced engagement planning system that exploits the geography in the area
- Accurate navigation system for flight close to terrain
- High maneuverability to allow flight planning in close vicinity to land masses
- Discriminating seeker with imaging infrared technology
- Two-way networking data link (compliant with standard military equipment) offering target-update, retargeting and mission-abort capabilities
The Joint Strike Missile is a partnership between Raytheon Company and Norwegian defense company Kongsberg Gruppen. Source raytheon.com
GUB-12B Paveway IV guided bombs
In late 2003 the UK MoD selected the Paveway IV PGM in preference to the Boeing Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). Paveway IV has the ability to engage targets in all types of weather with laser guidance for high terminal accuracy.
The Paveway IV kit, is equipped with a GPS/INS (Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System) and a SAL (Semi-Active Laser) terminal seeker. The total value of the contract is believed to be in the region of £100 million.
Paveway IV is a joint development by the UK-based Raytheon Systems Ltd (RSL) and Raytheon Missile Systems (RMS) in the US.
Paveway IV kits, fitted to 227 kg (500 lb) bombs, entered service in 2008. During Operation Telic (Libya 2011) the UK’s precision guided bombing capability was provided by 240 x Enhanced Paveway II and 900 x Paveway IV. Source armedforces.co.uk
GUB 31/B JDAM
The Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) is a tail kit which converts free fall unguided bombs into precision-guided weapons. The tail section contains a GPS/INS guidance system that guides the JDAM bomb through the selected target. The JDAM bombs is available for all the fighting aircraft of the US inventory (B-1B, B-2A, B-52H, F-16C/D, F/A-18C/D, F/A-18E/F, F-15E, F/A-22, F-35, A-10A, S-3, F-117, AV-8B, and F-14A/B/D) as well as aircraft in development and foreign aircraft. The JDAM were used for the first time during operation Allied Force in 1999.
The JDAM bombs can be released in day/night and adverse weather at up to 15 miles away from the selected target. The Pentagon claims that JDAM bomb accuracy is about 13 meters CEP (Circular Error Probable), but according to Boeing sources JDAM accuracy is 9.6 meters CEP. Without the GPS guidance system using only the INS guidance system JDAM accuracy is 30 meters. The advanced capabilities of these smart bombs make possible to attack multiple targets simultaneously as it has been demonstrated during operational representative tests carried out by a B-2 Spirit dropping 16 JDAMs against several targets in a single mission.
The GBU-31 bomb can use the BLU-109 or the Mk-84 warhead to destroy bunkers and hardened targets.
Diameter: 630 millimeter (24.8 inch)
Length: 3.88 meter (153 inch)
CEP: 9.60 meter
Max Launch Altitude: 13,700 meter (44,948 foot)
Max Range: 24,000 meter (13.0 nautical mile)
Weight: 960 kilogram (2,116 pound)
The AIM-132 ASRAAM (Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile) missile has been designed to provide excellent performance in short range air-to-air engagements. The ASRAAM has been selected by the United Kingdom and the Australian Air Force for their Tornado F3, Harrier, F/A-18 and Eurofighter-Typhoon aircraft.
The ASRAAM features an advanced IR seeker (128×128 resolution) and the capability to operate in heavy ECM environments. It receives the target coordinates from the aircraft’s sensors (radar and IRST), the pilot’s helmet mounted sight or even from its own IR imaging sensor in the search and track mode. Its high speed and maneuverability provides the ASRAAM with a high kill probability once fired. ASRAAM has a single blast fragmentation warhead detonated by impact and laser proximity fuze.
The Russian AA-11, the American AIM-9X and the German IRIS-T missiles are the AIM-132 ASRAAM foreign counterparts. United Kingdom and Australia remain as the only known operators for ASRAAM as of September 2004. In the near future, it will undergo integration work on the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter weapon system to meet the requirements of the British Armed Forces.
Diameter: 170 millimeter (6.69 inch)
Length: 2.90 meter (114 inch)
Wingspan: 450 millimeter (17.7 inch)
Max Range: 15,000 meter (8.10 nautical mile)
Min Range: 300 meter (0.16 nautical mile)
Top Speed: 996 mps (3,587 kph)
Warhead: 10 kilogram (22.0 pound)
Weight: 88 kilogram (194 pound)
B61 nuclear bomb
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is slated to be armed with the B61 nuclear bomb as early as 2020, but could carry the weapon sooner, a general said.
The stealthy fifth-generation fighter made by Lockheed Martin Corp. is set to be fitted with the B61-12 Mod gravity bomb — the latest variant — sometime between 2020 and 2022, Air ForceBrig. Gen. Scott Pleus told Military.com during a recent interview at the Pentagon. Source military.com
“Detailed risk reduction activities have been completed ensuring the F-35A is fully compatible with the B61-12 weapon. Planning for Block 4 nuclear certification efforts have begun in anticipation of initial B61-12 integration on the F-35A this year,” Maj. Emily Grabowski, Air Force Spokeswoman, told Warrior Maven.
The Block 4 F-35, to fully emerge in the next decade, contains more than 50 technical adjustments to the aircraft designed as software and hardware builds — to be added in six-month increments between April 2019 to October 2024, she added.
The latest version of the B61 thermonuclear gravity bomb, which has origins as far back as the 1960s, is engineered as a low-to-medium yield strategic and tactical nuclear weapon, according to nuclearweaponsarchive.org, which also states the weapon has a “two-stage” radiation implosion design.
The most current Mod 12 version has demonstrated a bunker-buster earth-penetrating capability, according to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).
“B61-12 is designed to have four selectable explosive yields: 0.3 kilotons (kt), 1.5 kt, 10 kt and 50 kt,” FAS writes.
Utilizing speed, maneuverability and lower-altitude flight when compared to how a bomber such as a B-2 would operate, a nuclear-capable F-35 presents new threats to a potential adversary. In a tactical sense, it seems that a high-speed F-35, fortified by long-range sensors and targeting technologies, might be well positioned to identify and destroy mobile weapons launchers or other vital, yet slightly smaller on-the-move targets. Furthermore, the B61 Mod 12 is engineered with a special “Tail Subassembly” to give the bomb JDAM-type GPS accuracy, giving a new level of precision targeting, according to data provided by the Federation of American Scientists. Source nationalinterest.org
Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept hypersonic missile
Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range (AARGM-ER)
In September 2002, General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products was selected as the gun system integrator. General Dynamics was awarded a contract for the internally mounted 25mm GAU-22/A gun system for the air force CTOL variant in November 2008. General Dynamics is developing an external gun system for the carrier and marine variants.
GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs (SDBs)
25mm GAU-22/A gun system
The 25mm GAU-22/A is an externally powered Gatling gun developed for both the internal and external F-35 gun systems. This four-barrel gun is a derivative of our highly successful five-barrel, 25mm GAU-12/U gun.
Each of the four gun barrels has a breech bolt assembly that fires once per gun revolution. This ensures long barrel and breech life by distributing the heat and firing forces over all four barrels and breech positions. Continuous rotary motion reduces the impact loads on gun components, extending parts life and resulting in extremely high gun reliability.
The GAU-22/A is over 40 pounds lighter and occupies 20 percent less volume than the comparably equipped 5-barrel counterpart. The demonstrated versatility, coupled with significant combat lethality, makes the GAU-22/A gun an ideal candidate for air, land and sea platforms.
230 pounds (104.3 kg)
Rate of fire
Up to 3,300 shots per minute
5 milliradians diameter, 80 percent circle
Average recoil force
3,700 pounds (16.5 kN)
Hydraulic, electric, pneumatic
Linked or linkless
Terma A/S multi-mission pod (MMP)
Fire control and targeting technology on the F-35 Lightning II
Lockheed Martin Missile & Fire Control and Northrop Grumman Electronic Sensors and Systems are jointly responsible for the JSF electro-optical system. A Lockheed Martin electro-optical targeting system (EOTS) will provide long-range detection and precision targeting, along with the Northrop Grumman DAS (distributed aperture system) thermal imaging system.
EOTS will be based on the Sniper XL pod developed for the F-16, which incorporates a mid-wave third-generation FLIR, dual mode laser, CCD TV, laser tracker and laser marker. BAE Systems Avionics in Edinburgh, Scotland will provide the laser systems.
Electro-optical target system (EOTS)
The Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) for the F-35 Lightning II is an affordable, high-performance, lightweight, multi-function system that provides precision air-to-air and air-to-surface targeting capability.
The low-drag, stealthy EOTS is integrated into the F-35 Lightning II’s fuselage with a durable sapphire window and is linked to the aircraft’s integrated central computer through a high-speed fiber-optic interface.
As the first sensor to combine forward-looking infrared and infrared search and track functionality, EOTS enhances F-35 pilots’ situational awareness and allows aircrews to identify areas of interest, perform reconnaissance and precisely deliver laser and GPS-guided weapons. Lockheed Martin has delivered more than 300 systems for the F-35 Lightning II.
Advanced EOTS, an evolutionary electro-optical targeting system, is available for the F-35’s Block 4 development. Designed to replace EOTS, Advanced EOTS incorporates a wide range of enhancements and upgrades, including short-wave infrared, high-definition television, an infrared marker and improved image detector resolution. These enhancements increase F-35 pilots’ recognition and detection ranges, enabling greater overall targeting performance. Source lockheedmartin.com
|Type: Infrared||Altitude Max: 0 m|
|Range Max: 185.2 km||Altitude Min: 0 m|
|Range Min: 0 km||Generation: Infrared, 3rd Generation Imaging (2000s/2010s, Impr LANTIRN, Litening II/III, ATFLIR)|
|Properties: Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) [Side Info], Classification [Class Info] / Brilliant Weapon [Automatic Target Aquisition], Continous Tracking Capability [Visual]|
|SENSORS / EW:|
|EOTS [IRST] – (F-35) Infrared
Role: Infrared, Navigation / Attack FLIR & Air-to-Air Tracking
Max Range: 185.2 km
|Type: Laser Designator||Altitude Max: 0 m|
|Range Max: 27.8 km||Altitude Min: 0 m|
|Range Min: 0 km||Generation: Not Applicable (N/A)|
|SENSORS / EW:|
|EOTS [Laser Designator] – (F-35) Laser Designator
Role: Laser Target Designator & Ranger (LTD/R)
Max Range: 27.8 km
DAS consists of multiple infrared cameras (supplied by Indigo Systems of Goleta, California) providing 360° coverage using advanced signal conditioning algorithms. As well as situational awareness, DAS provides navigation, missile warning and infrared search and track (IRST). EOTS is embedded under the aircraft’s nose, and DAS sensors are fitted at multiple locations on the aircraft.
AN/AAQ-37 Distributed Aperture System (DAS)
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. Source northropgrumman.com
|Type: Infrared||Altitude Max: 0 m|
|Range Max: 111.1 km||Altitude Min: 0 m|
|Range Min: 0 km||Generation: Infrared, 3rd Generation Imaging (2000s/2010s, Impr LANTIRN, Litening II/III, ATFLIR)|
|Properties: Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) [Side Info], Classification [Class Info] / Brilliant Weapon [Automatic Target Aquisition], Continous Tracking Capability [Visual]|
|SENSORS / EW:|
|AN/AAQ-37 EO-DAS – (F-35) Infrared
Role: Infrared, Day/Night Spherical Situational Awareness & Fire Control
Max Range: 111.1 km
AN/AAQ-37 EO-DAS MAWS
|Type: Infrared||Altitude Max: 0 m|
|Range Max: 9.3 km||Altitude Min: 0 m|
|Range Min: 0 km||Generation: Early 2010s|
|Properties: Continous Tracking Capability [Visual]|
|Sensors / EW:|
|AN/AAQ-37 EO-DAS MAWS – (F-35) Infrared
Role: MAWS, Missile Approach Warning System
Max Range: 9.3 km
AESA radar from Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems
Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems is developing the advanced electronically scanned array (AESA) AN/APG-81 multi-function radar. The AN/APG-81AESA will combine an integrated radio frequency subsystem with a multifunction array.
The radar system will also incorporate the agile beam steering capabilities developed for the APG-77. Northrop Grumman delivered the first radar to Lockheed Martin in March 2005 for flight testing.
AN/APG-81 Active electronically scanned array-radar
The AN/APG-81 is an advanced fire control radar developed by Northrop-Grumman for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). It features both air and surface modes and Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) antenna for enhanced performance. The APG-81 radar underwent rooftop integration range-testing phase entering flight testing on a Northrop-Grumman BAC 1-11 testbed aircraft in early 2005. The BAC 1-11 tested its air and surface modes. Northrop-Grumman handed over the first AN/APG-81 active electronically scanned array (AESA) fire control radar to F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) prime contractor Lockheed-Martin on March 3, 2005. APG-81 radar system will support air-to-air, air-to-surface and electronic warfare modes providing the pilot with all-weather precision targeting and advanced air-to-ground automatic target cueing.
The AN/APG-81 radar is a combination of the proven technologies from the F/A-22’s APG-77 and the F-16E/F’s APG-80 AESA radar systems. The APG-81 features features 1,000 transceivers with the ability to track aerial targets and moving targets on the ground. In the air surveillance mode can detect an airborne target of one square meter Radar Cross Section (RCS) at a range of 150 kilometers. Besides, can track 23 targets in 9 seconds while engaging 19 of them in 2.4 seconds.
Engaged Aerial Targets: 19
T/R Modules: 1,000
Tracked Aerial Targets: 23
Tracked Surface Targets: 1
Diameter: 700 millimeter (27.6 inch)
Max Detection Range: 150 kilometer (81 nautical mile)
Integrated electronic warfare suite from BAE Systems IEWS
BAE Systems information & electronic warfare systems (IEWS) will be responsible for the JSF integrated electronic warfare suite, which will be installed internally and have some subsystems from Northrop Grumman. BAE is developing a new digital radar warning receiver for the F-35.
AN/ASQ-239 F-35 electronic warfare / countermeasure system
The AN/ASQ-239 system protects the F-35 with advanced technology for next generation missions to counter current and emerging threats. Equipped with offensive and defensive electronic warfare options for the pilot and aircraft, the suite provides fully integrated radar warning, targeting support, and self-protection, to detect and defeat surface and airborne threats.
The system provides the pilot with maximum situational awareness, helping to identify, monitor, analyze, and respond to potential threats. Advanced avionics and sensors provide a real-time, 360-degree view of the battlespace, helping to maximize detection ranges and provide the pilot with options to evade, engage, counter or jam threats.
Always active, AN/ASQ-239 provides all-aspect, broadband protection, allowing the F-35 to reach well-defended targets and suppress enemy radars. The system stands alone in its ability to operate in signal-dense environments, providing the aircraft with radio-frequency and infrared countermeasures, and rapid response capabilities. Source baesystems.com
|Type: ESM||Altitude Max: 0 m|
|Range Max: 926 km||Altitude Min: 0 m|
|Range Min: 0 km||Generation: Late 2000s|
|Sensors / EW:|
|AN/ASQ-239 Barracuda – (F-35) ESM
Max Range: 926 km
T-1687/ALE-70(V) electronic warfare (EW) towed decoys
Designed and produced by BAE Systems for deployment from the F-35, the ALE-70 towed radio frequency countermeasure consists of the reel and launcher assembly, tow line, T-1687 countermeasure transmitter, and electronic and mechanical subassemblies. It also has canisters, and explosive cartridges to deploy the decoys.
When deployed from the aircraft, the ALE-70’s countermeasure transmitter responds to commands from the countermeasure controller located in the jet and emits waveforms to confuse or decoy adversary radars or radar-guided weapons. The system may be towed or free-flying. Source militaryaerospace.com
Systems and suppliers including Honeywell, Goodrich and Paker Aerospace
Other suppliers include:
- ATK Composites – upper wing skins
- Vought Aircraft Industries – lower wing skins
- Smiths Aerospace – electronic control systems, electrical power system (with Hamilton Sundstrand), integrated canopy frame
- Honeywell – landing system wheels and brakes, onboard oxygen-generating system (OBOGS), engine components, power and thermal management system driven by integrated auxiliary power unit (APU)
- Parker Aerospace – fuel system, hydraulics for lift fan, engine controls and accessories
- Moog Inc – primary flight control electrohydrostatic actuation system (EHAS), leading edge flap drive system and wing-fold system
- EDO Corporation – pneumatic weapon delivery system
- Goodrich – lift-fan anti-icing system
- Stork Aerospace – electrical wiring
Propulsion of the Joint Strike Fighter variation aircraft
Early production lots of all three variants will be powered by the Pratt and Whitney afterburning turbofan F-135 engine, a derivative of the F119 fitted on the F-22. Following production aircraft will be powered by either the F135 or the F-136 turbofan being developed by General Electric and Rolls-Royce. However, in the 2007 US Military Budget, published in February 2006, no funding was allocated for the development of the F-136 engine. The US Congress voted to restore funding for the F-136 in October 2006.
Pratt and Whitney afterburning turbofan F-135 engine
The Pratt & Whitney F135 two-spool afterburning turbofan engine powers all three variants of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II – Joint Strike Fighter. The F135 propulsion system is the most powerful fighter engine ever developed.
The F135-PW-100 powers the U.S. Air Force F-35A Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) variant and provides 28,000 pounds of thrust or as much as 43,000 pounds with afterburner.
The more complex (and almost twice as expensive) F135-PW-600 system is used on the Marine Corps F-35B Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant. The system is basically an F135 engine coupled to a lift system manufactured by Rolls-Royce (Rolls-Royce LiftSystem). The Rolls-Royce LiftSystem is comprised of a lift fan, a driveshaft, the 3 Bearing Swivel Module (3BSM), and two roll posts. The driveshaft connects the F135 engine to the lift fan and delivers as much as 29,000 shp. The lift fan provides the forward vertical lift. It is a 50-inch, two-stage counter-rotating fan, which is able to deliver more than 20,000 pounds of thrust. The 3BSM is a swiveling jet pipe, which redirects the main engine thrust downward to provide the rear vertical lift. It can rotate 95 degrees in 2.5 seconds and directs 18,000 pounds of thrust. Aircraft roll control is achieved using two roll posts mounted in the wings of the F-35. These roll posts provide 1,950 pounds of thrust each (bypass thrust from F135 engine). In total, the Rolls-Royce LiftSystem provides 41,900 pounds of thrust.
The F135-PW-400 powers the Navy’s F-35C Carrier Variant (CV) and provides 28,000 pounds of thrust or as much as 43,000 pounds with afterburner.
The F135 is developed from the proven Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 engine which powers the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor. By the end of the development phase of the F135, the F119 had performed approximately 600,000 operational flying hours, thus providing a strong level of maturity and performance for the F135 program. By 2013, almost 21,000 test hours had been completed (17,700 ground + 2,950 flight). In December 2014, the worldwide F-35 fleet reached the 25,000 flight hour mark. The 50,000 hours flight hour milestone was surpassed in February 2016. Source fi-powerweb.com
Each engine will be fitted with two BAE Systems full authority digital electronic control (FADEC) systems. Hamilton Sundstrand is providing the gearbox.
On the F-35B, the engine is coupled with a shaft-driven lift fan system for STOVL propulsion. The counter-rotating lift fan, developed by Rolls-Royce Defence, can generate more than 20,000lb of thrust. Doors installed above and below the vertical fan open as the fin spins up to provide vertical lift.
The main engine has a three-bearing swivelling exhaust nozzle. The nozzle, which is supplemented by two roll control ducts on the inboard section of the wing, together with the vertical lift fan provide the required STOVL capability.
G250 auxiliary power unit
Honeywell has designed and tailored many military application auxiliary power units. This line of products started with the 85 series auxiliary power units supporting the C-130 cargo aircraft all the way up to the most recent fighter applications with the G250 auxiliary power unit, supporting the F22, and the G230 auxiliary power unit, supporting the F35 Joint Strike Fighter. Source aerospace.honeywell.com
Primary Function: Multirole fighter
Prime Contractor: Lockheed Martin
Power Plant: One Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100 turbofan engine
Thrust: 43,000 pounds
Wingspan: 35 feet (10.7 meters)
Length: 51 feet (15.7 meters)
Height: 14 feet (4.38 meters)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 70,000 pound class
Fuel Capacity: Internal: 18,498 pounds
Payload: 18,000 pounds (8,160 kilograms)
Speed: Mach 1.6 (~1,200 mph)
Range: More than 1,350 miles with internal fuel (1,200+ nautical miles), unlimited with aerial refueling
Ceiling: Above 50,000 feet (15 kilometers)
Armament: Internal and external capability. Munitions carried vary based on mission requirements.
Main material source airforce-technology.com
Images are from public domain unless otherwise stated
Main image – Dan Stijovich
Revised May 11, 2019
Updated Oct 21, 2021
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This is way too much information on an aircraft central to worldwide security for the next 30-50 years. With that being said tho it is a mighty fine aircraft. goddamn!
interesting seeing the fearful writing here now, as well as initial orders by ever other nato ally cutting orders in half.
Jackson : if you read the two last DOT&E annual reports about F-35, you’d even consider write off any contract and even reclaim refunding by Lockheed as the plane is nowhere near to fulfil what Lockheed claims. As usual… Remember their advertising about F-104 which won the NATO competition (mostly through bribes) over Mirage-III. F-104 proved itself irrelevant in combat, Mirage-III ended being the #1 Mig-eater…