The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an American family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft that is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions. It is also able to provide electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. The aircraft has three main variants: the conventional takeoff and landing F-35A (CTOL), the short take-off and vertical-landing F-35B (STOVL), and the carrier-based F-35C (CV/CATOBAR).
It is operated by multiple militaries around the world, including all NATO members plus South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Israel, Australia and UAE.
The F-35’s advanced sensor package gathers and distributes more information than any fighter in history, giving operators a decisive advantage over all adversaries. Its tremendous processing power, open architecture, sophisticated sensors, information fusion and flexible communication links make the F-35 an indispensable tool in future homeland defense, joint and coalition irregular warfare, and major combat operations.
The F-35’s aligned edges, reduced engine signature, internal carriage of weapons and fuel and embedded sensors all contribute to its unique stealth performance. Its power source, the Pratt & Whitney F135 is the most powerful fighter engine in the world. With a top speed of Mach 1.6, the F-35 is a long range, supersonic fighter, even with a full complement of internal weapons and fuel. The F-35 has the ability to carry weapons internally in stealth configuration, or externally in permissive environments with greater than 18,000 pounds of total ordnance. It is also equipped with advanced electronic warfare capabilities allowing it to locate/track enemy forces, jam radars and disrupt attacks.
The technological advancement extends even to the pilot’s helmet as the F-35 Helmet is one of the most advanced pieces of technology on the planet. The information a pilot needs to complete any mission – airspeed, heading, altitude, targeting information and warnings — is projected on the helmet’s visor, rather than on a traditional Heads-up Display. This approach greatly reduces the pilot’s workload and increases responsiveness.