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
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
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
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
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.