F-35 Lightning II
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a single-seat, single-engine, fifth-generation multi-role aircraft. Its main advantage is its wide range of applications, allowing the aircraft to provide direct air support to troops on the ground, conduct reconnaissance, gain air superiority, engage in electronic warfare, or suppress enemy air defenses. The F-35 is thus capable of replacing existing aircraft as diverse as the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-18 Hornet, A-10 Thunderbolt II, or AV-8B Harrier II, which it technologically surpasses.
It is this technological sophistication and capability that puts the F-35 in the category of fifth-generation aircraft, which use the latest technology in avionics, radar stealth, excellent maneuverability, and thanks to advanced electronics, these aircraft are also able to share data better with each other, providing better situational awareness on the battlefield compared to older fourth-generation aircraft such as the F-16 or MiG-29.
The F-35 draws heavily on the technology of its "bigger and older brother," the F-22 Raptor, which was also developed by Lockheed Martin. This is also reflected in the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine used, with a thrust of up to 191 kN, based on the F119 model used in the F-22. By comparison, the most powerful F-16 Block 60, the General Electric F110-GE-132, has a thrust of up to 144 kN.
The F-35 also has an extensive arsenal, consisting of a variation of air-to-surface, air-to-air, anti-tank missiles, or smaller and medium-sized bombs. The ability to carry lasers or the B61 thermonuclear bomb is also envisaged soon. The F-35 is also equipped with a more "conventional" four-barrelled GAU-22/A 25mm caliber rotary cannon with a cadence of 3,300 rounds per minute.
The aircraft is currently produced in three basic variants, the basic F-35A of conventional design, the B version allowing vertical takeoff and landing, the so-called V/STOL version best known for the legendary AV-8B Harrier. The F-35C variant is modified for carrier operations and differs from the A version primarily by its folding wings. The F-35 has also been modified to meet the special needs of its users so that the Israeli Air Force can find an F-35I version with modified electronics or a CF-35 version for the Canadian Air Force with a braking parachute.
As of 2021, more than 600 F-35s have been produced in various versions, and in addition to the US, it is used by Italy, the UK, the Netherlands, Norway, and others. Outside of NATO countries, the F-35 can be found in the armaments of Israel, Japan, and Australia.
|Empty weight||13 199 kg|
|Max. takeoff weight||31 800 kg|
|Max. speed||1 930 km/h|
|Ceiling||18 288 m|
|Flying range||2 220 km|