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Title: F-35

The F-35 is drastically more than just a jet; it is a highly integrated air system. The system is comprised of many key parts such as the propulsion system, the avionics suite, the weapons systems, an autonomic logistics system and the list continues.

The single-engine, single-seat F-35 will be manufactured in three versions: a conventional-takeoff-and-landing (CTOL) variant for the U.S. Air Force, an aircraft-carrier version (CV) for the U.S. Navy, and a short-takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) version for the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.K. Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.

The requirements for the Joint Strike Fighter are complex – from the start it must reach new heights of lethality, but be affordable. It must be survivable during the rigors of combat and supportable from austere environments. All the while, the F-35 JSF must meet all of these diverse needs of multiple services and still be affordable.

The 1970s saw the production of many of today's aircraft that comprise most of the U.S. tactical aircraft inventory. The combination of service-life exhaustion and escalating threats will require all of the services to slowly retire their current tactical aircraft. These issues are not restricted to the U.S. The Royal Air Force and Royal Navy Harriers underscore similar problems. Other U.S. allies are having the same problem.

The F-35 is designed to replace aging fighter inventories including U.S. Air Force A-10s and F-16s, U.S. Navy F/A-18s, U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers and F/A-18s, and U.K. Harrier GR.7s and Sea Harriers. With stealth and a host of next-generation technologies, the F-35 will be far and away the world’s most advanced multi-role fighter. There exists an aging fleet of tactical aircraft worldwide. The F-35 will solve that problem.

In providing that solution, the Joint Strike Fighter program has since day one had four program pillars:

All variants of the F-35 will be procured within their target cost range. Operation and support costs will be dramatically reduced.

Air-to-ground precision strikes in all weather … air-to-air combat engagements – every F-35 variant will be highly effective in both arenas.

Stealthy, high-performance, supersonic strike fighters – The F-35 successfully integrates the technologies that will make every mission more survivable.

Reliability and maintainability – The F-35 will be setting new standards for both, enabling lower support costs and easier upgrades than legacy aircraft.

The F-35 JSF program, while embracing the four pillars, is a single development program. The F-35 is addressing the needs of legacy aircraft users in a single program. The cost savings will continue through the life of the program. Duplications of efforts are being avoided, technology is more effectively leveraged, and greater economies of scale are being achieved through the joint acquisition of the F-35.

Affordability is the cornerstone of the F-35 program. It is achieved in large part through a very high level of common parts and systems across the three versions of the aircraft. Support costs are forecast to be about half that of present-day fighters, and streamlined assembly methods will cut production time significantly.

With nine countries (and their collective industrial prowess) involved in its development, the F-35 represents a new model of international cooperation, ensuring affordable U.S. and coalition partner security well into the 21st century. The F-35 also brings together solid strategic international partnerships, providing affordability by reducing redundant research and development and providing access to technology around the world.

From ongoing production today through testing and full service in the future, the F-35 will seamlessly incorporate the latest technological advancements as they emerge. Its solid aerodynamic design is specifically developed with room to grow, room that will continue to ensure that the F-35 will be a highly adaptable platform ready to accommodate rapidly changing technologies. The F-35 is a smart fighter that will get even smarter as new threats and the technologies to counter them emerge.

The F-35 will be extremely lethal. It will have excellent aerodynamic performance and advanced integrated avionics. It's next generation stealth, superb situational awareness and reduced vulnerability will make the F-35 hard to find, hard to hit and hard to kill.

The F-35 will create a truly global, highly effective fighter force. As the first U.S. combat aircraft acquisition program to have had international participation from its inception, the JSF closes the “capability gap” between the U.S. and its allies and ensures that coalition forces are able to tackle heavily defended targets alongside U.S. forces. The first F-35A is scheduled to take to the skies in late 2006.

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