Lockheed F-35 Lightning II

2020-popularmechanics-heavymetal-ep05-f35-jc-v02-thumb-1663770151-jpg-crop-1-00xw-1 Статьи

F-35 — это машина нового, пятого, поколения истребителей, самолет, созданный в рамках наиболее амбициозной программы в
истории авиации, получившей название JSF.

Уголок неба. 2008

Refueling under cover of darkness, a massive formation of U.S. Air Force, Royal Air Force, and Australian Air Force aircraft prepared for combat.

Fourth-generation fighters hailing from all three nations—including F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-15 Eagles, and Eurofighter Typhoons—coordinated with E-8 Joint STARS command-and-control aircraft. As their stealthy escorts, both F-22 Raptors and F-35 Joint Strike Fighters surveyed the battle space.


Soon, cockpit displays in each aircraft began to light up and alarms sounded, indicating that the formation was being painted by multiple radar arrays tied to surface-to-air missiles and inbound fighters. Enemy fighters sporting the color schemes of Russian Su-30s began to close in.

“On the last week of a Red Flag exercise we really throw everything we have at the Blue Force and replicate the toughest adversary possible,” says Travolis “Jaws” Simmons, commander of the 57th Adversary Tactics Group.

Ultimately, the F-35 fighter jet won the day, breaking down one of the world’s most advanced air defense networks and relaying the data to missile-packed fighters like the F-16.


In the May 2002 issue, Popular Mechanics explored the U.S. Military’s newest fighter: the F-35. Diving deep into the plane’s three variants—the F-35A, B, and C—the article reported on the project in its infancy and its ambitious plans to start replacing the F-22 and A-10 by 2010. Famously, the F-35 became plagued with delays and cost overruns, but despite these setbacks, the Joint Strike Fighter remains the most advanced jet fighter in the world—at least until the rumored Next-Generation Air Dominance program comes for the crown.

The planes that won the Cold War are getting old. They pack as lethal a punch as ever, but like the baby boomer generation they protected, they are beginning to show their age.

The electrical system of the Air Force’s A-10 Thunderbolt, better known as the Warthog because of its ungainly tail-engine configuration, lacks the juice to handle modern radar and battle-management computers. Salty sea air has hastened the breakdown of the insulation in some Navy jets, causing scores of fires and prompting a program to install arc-fault circuit breakers. The Marines are seriously worried that they could run out of Harrier jump jets.

There is no argument within the defense community that America needs a new family of military aircraft. The problem is money. Keeping one step ahead of the former Soviet Union has driven the cost of aircraft to astounding heights. The U.S. Air Force says that the «fly-away» cost of the first 10 F-22 Raptors, the last fighters designed to counter the Soviet threat, is $99.7 million each.


When the U.S.S.R. folded its tent, the Pentagon decided it was time not only for new planes, but also for a less costly way of doing business. Thus, the birth of America’s newest combat aircraft, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

In a future war, F-22s and F-35As would fly complementary missions. The F-22 would establish and maintain air superiority, while the F-35As would attack the enemy on the ground. Planners envision that during the first hours of a war F-35As would take advantage of their near Mach 2 speed and stealth to deliver a pair of internally carried 2000-pound «supersmart» bombs against command and control targets.

Once the enemy was blinded and stealth became unnecessary, ground crews could fit the two hardpoints on the F-35As wings with a variety of missiles and bombs. If the Air Force holds to its current plans, it will buy 1763 F-35As. The least complicated of the designs, they will cost more than $30 million each.


The F-35B, shown in its hovering configuration, is the most technically complex of the three Joint Strike Fighters. Bombs are carried inside during stealth attacks and also can be attached to hardpoints. An in-helmet video screen replaces the current heads-up display.

Popular Mechanics / John Batchelor

U.S. Marines will fly the F-35B, which is detailed in the cutaway drawing above. While its overall shape, size and radar-absorbing stealth coatings are identical to the Air Force F-35A, the powerplant and airframe have been modified for short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) operation. The Marines will use the F-35B to retire their current—and rapidly dwindling—fleet of British-designed AV-8B Harrier jump jets. F-35Bs would be deployed with Marine Expeditionary Units and operate off short-runway landing ships. Eventually, the Marines hope to buy 609 F-35Bs to replace the Harriers, as well as their carrier-based F/A-18C/D Hornets.

The Navy will fly the most visibly different member of the JSF family, the F-35C. Built using the same airframe and engine as the Air Force and Marine variants, it will have larger wing and tail-control surfaces. These are needed to maintain control at the lower speeds required for carrier approaches. The wingbox and airframe will be strengthened to absorb the shock of catapult launches and arrested landings.

Additional wing area—which is created with larger leading-edge flaps and foldable wingtip sections—means the F-35C will be able to carry more fuel for a longer operating range and a larger payload. The Navy hopes to buy 480 of the aircraft to replace its aging fleet of Hornets. In a future war, the F-35Cs would work in concert with the F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.

Пометка — технологии в 21 веке могут процветать только там, где есть лучшие в мире станки и возможность свободного их обновления. А лучшие в мире станки делают в США, Японии, Швейцарии, Англии, Франции и Германии. Знаете где в России покупают заготовки для ножей? В США! Потому что в России в принципе не умеют делать такие печи, которые будут варить сталь с точной температурой и составом. Русские заготовки вечно то перекалены, то не того состава, то банально обманывают производители, пишут одно, на деле заготовка шлам. Потому что именем никто не дорожит как в США, в США зажигалки Зиппо ремонтируют по гарантии спустя десять лет. Такое нереально представить в России, просто потому что у нас фирмы разоряются раз в пять лет, когда окончательно обгадятся перед клиентами.  В США и Европе нормально, когда фирме больше 100 лет, бару больше 200 лет и никто их не отжал у коренных владельцев.

Ради создания обще-англосаксонского стандарта в самолётах, США придумали и начали клепать свои новые самолёты Ф 35. Для начала надо понять, сначала амеры сделали лучший в мире, первый в мире самолёт пятого поколения — Ф 22 Раптор, они его сделали тогда, когда в России даже 4 поколение было порой не заправлено и пилоты спивались рядом с базами своими. Рапторы начали делать с 1997 года, как раз в разгар развала всего советского в России. А вот в США именно в эти годы пошёл цифровой расцвет всего и вся, включая интернет, спутники, микропроцессоры нового поколения, которые затем придут в мирные компьютеры и породят новейшие игровые индустрии, взрыв 3д технологий.

Но Ф 22 при всей шедевральности оказался несоразмерно ( даже по меркам англосаксов ) дорогущим. Одна штука с учётом всех вложений научных, стоила 227 000 000 бакинских зеленюшек. Но даже при таких ценах и сложностях в освоении новейшей технологии, США бодро наклепали 195 самолётов и поставили на боевое дежурство. Самолёт получился с эксплуатационным весом под 30 тонн и совершенно не подошёл для авианосцев, только как сухопутный. Дорогой, нельзя эффективно взлетать с простых аэродромов, крайне сложный в обслуживании — амеры почесали репу и придумали Ф 35. Для начала его сделали предельно небольшим ради малозаметности и удобства взлёта откуда угодно, 14 — 15 тонн  вес пустого, полезная ( не топливная )нагрузка от 6,8 до 8 тонн! То есть самолёт сделан отлично при любым углах и ракурсах, он несёт 50% боевой нагрузки от собственного веса.

Для понимания того, как ушли вперёд амеры — Ми 24 несёт от силы 2400 кг боевой нагрузки. Лучшее что придумала буржуйская Россия — это Су 33 ( с полной массой под 30 тонн ) на основе древнего советского су 27 — 6500 кг боевой нагрузки, что на 1500 кг меньше чем у амерского Ф35, к тому же сушка никак не способна взлетать вертикально, это огромный, устаревший морально самолёт.  А Ф 35 это заноза, проклятье для любого ПВО и вообще разведки врагов — взлетит откуда угодно, сядет куда угодно, лёгкий, крайне много тащит вооружения.


Летать выше скорости звука он умеет, до 1700 км в час, правда никто в мире так и не смог сделать этот режим полёта экономным, поэтому все самолёты в реальном бою летают на дозвуке, а ускоряются в крайнем случае, когда уходят от атаки. Ф 35 в два раза легче, несёт оружия больше чем российские сушки, он на порядок менее заметен, на два порядка меньше даёт температуры, ведь у сушек два двигателя, а у Ф 35 только один.

Замечено не мной, а мировой практикой, чем меньше движков, тем дешевле и надёжнее самолёт получается. По сути Ф 35 повторил компоновку сверх удачного Ф 16, который по всему миру успешно применялся и стоит на вооружении тысячами, его наклепали 4600 штук. На сегодня сделано 800 штук Ф 35, они стоят на вооружении США, Англии, Израиля и так далее. Наклепали амеры всё это всего за 10 лет, планируется общее число под 3000 машин по всему НАТО. У России всех боевых самолётов, которые реально могут попытаться что то сделать с Ф 35  столько же, учитывая что у России до 70% самолётов это откровенное старьё, а Ф 35 все новые, с новейшей аппаратурой и ракетами. В довесок амерский самолёт сядет где угодно и взлетит откуда угодно, а русские самолёты требуют полноценных аэродромов и потому максимально уязвимы в реальной войне.

Ну да не просто так Турция столь активно пыталась купить именно амерский самолёт, а не китайские поделки или русские. Амеры собственно и создали первый самолёт 21-го века — массовый, универсальный, удобный в ремонте и обслуживании. То что он не отвечает мечталкам фантазёров о самолёте это не беда, зато он отвечает любым запросам любой армии мира и никто в мире не отказался бы такие самолёты приобрести, да вот только США сильно разборчивы и лучшее в мире оружие абы кому не продают. Туркам дали по усам и лишили их лучших в мире самолётов, турки плакали, но в итоге смирились, ибо мордой ещё не вышли. И замечу — турки не начали стремится купить русские самолёты, они даром уже никому не сдались, ибо качество оных давно упало ниже среднего, куча косяков уже на стадии новых машин.


Вот те кто желает купить Ф 35 и уже разместили заказы.  Расшифрую — все развитые страны мира хотят и уже купили или купят. Китаю не продадут, России  подавно, у Индии нет денег, равно как у Бразилии с Аргентиной. Ну и да, Франция пока что держится на свою Миражи или как они там называются, это их дело. Для понимания — Япония заказала 147 машин, Италия 60, Голландия — 37, Израиль — 50, Финляндия — 64, Австралия — 72, Норвегия — 52, Польша — 32.

Либо все эти страны дураки и покупают нечто ужасное, либо это развитые страны, отлично умеющие считать денежки и покупают они самолёт, потому что он реально крутой и стоит вложенных денег. Ибо Ф 35 заметно подешевел при выходе на серийное производство.

В 2007 первые 6 штук стоили по 161 000 000 бакинских.В 2012 уже по 110 000 000 бакинских.В 2020 вариант Ф 35 А стоил уже 77 000 000 бакинских, а максимально дорогой Ф35В — 100 000 000 долларов. То бишь заметна тенденция, вроде капитализм, но на деле идёт планомерное снижение цены, при отличном качестве.


Lockheed Martin’s F-35


A cross-section of the F-35 from the May 2002 issue of Popular Mechanics. Necessary design changes over the years likely altered these original design plans.

Designed from the ground up to prioritize low-observability, the F-35 may be the stealthiest fighter in operation today. It uses a single F135 engine that produces 40,000 pounds of thrust with the afterburner engaged, capable of pushing the sleek but husky fighter to speeds as high as Mach 1.6. The aircraft can carry four weapons internally while flying in contested airspace, or can be outfitted with six additional weapons mounted on external hardpoints when flying in low-risk environments. The F-35A also comes equipped with an internal 4-barrel 25mm rotary cannon hidden behind a small door to minimize radar returns.

The standard weapons payload of all three F-35 variants includes two AIM-120C/D air-to-air missiles and two 1,000-pound GBU-32 JDAM guided bombs, allowing the F-35 to engage both airborne and ground-based targets. Lockheed Martin has developed a new internal weapons carriage that will eventually allow it to carry an additional two missiles internally.

The cockpit of the F-35 forgoes the litany of gauges and screens found in previous generations of fighter in favor of large touchscreens and a helmet mounted display system that allows the pilot to see real-time information. This helmet also allows the pilot to look directly through the aircraft, thanks to the F-35’s Distributed Aperture System (DAS) and suite of six infrared cameras mounted strategically around the aircraft.

“If you were to go back to the year 2000 and somebody said, ‘I can build an airplane that is stealthy and has vertical takeoff and landing capabilities and can go supersonic,’ most people in the industry would have said that’s impossible,” Tom Burbage, Lockheed’s general manager for the program from 2000 to 2013 told the New York Times. “The technology to bring all of that together into a single platform was beyond the reach of industry at that time.”


While both the X-32 and X-35 prototypes performed well, the deciding factor in the competition may have been the F-35’s complicated Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) flight. Because the U.S. Marine Corps intended to use this new plane as a replacement for the AV-8B Harrier Jump Jets, America’s new stealth fighter had to be able to fill the same vertical landing, short take off role.


The Boeing X-32 prototypes were more unusual looking than its X-35 competition and in many ways, were less advanced. Boeing saw this as a selling point because the legacy systems leveraged in its design were cheaper to maintain. The aircraft used a direct-lift thrust vectoring system for vertical landings that was similar to that of the Harrier. It effectively just re-oriented the aircraft’s engine downward to lift the airframe, making it less stable than the X-35 in testing. But Boeing’s biggest mistake may have been the decision to field two prototypes: One that was capable of supersonic flight, and another that was capable of vertical landings. This decision left Pentagon officials worried about Boeing’s ability to field a single aircraft with all of those capabilities crammed inside a single fuselage.

The lift fan design used in the X-35 connected the engine at the back of the aircraft to a drive shaft that would power a large fan installed in the aircraft’s fuselage behind the pilot. When hovering, the F-35 would orient its engine downward, not unlike the X-32, but it would also pull air from above the aircraft and force it down through the fan and out the bottom, creating two balanced sources of thrust that made the aircraft far more stable.

It also helped the F-35 notch a win in the looks category.

“You can look at the Lockheed Martin airplane and say, that looks like what I would expect a modern, high performance, high capable jet fighter to look like,” Lockheed Martin engineer Rick Rezebek says in a PBS Nova episode. “You look at the Boeing airplane and the general reaction is, ‘I don’t get it.’”

Ultimately, Lockheed Martin won out over Boeing’s unusual looking X-32 prototype in October of 2001. The future looked bright for the newly named F-35.

The First Dogfight


The lifting fan (right) fits into an area usually occupied by fuel tanks. During landings (left) the diverter nozzle swivels down.

The F-35 is the product of an aggressive aircraft design competition that pitted the nation’s two top military aircraft manufacturers, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, in a corporate dogfight. Each company was required to build and fly its version of the JSF, designated the Boeing X-32 and Lockheed Martin X-35. But that was only the start.

With the JSF project the Pentagon not only wanted a superior aircraft, it also wanted to pull in the reins on escalating costs. To put this strategy into action, manufacturers were instructed to design planes with as many common parts as possible. Beyond designing and building an aircraft, each company also was required to demonstrate that its design would be the most economical for the armed forces to operate.

In the end, the task of selecting a contractor for the “winner take all» contract proved so complex that some 250 Defense Department officials were involved in evaluating the data.

Moving To the Flight Line


Thus far, the Defense Department has committed $22.9 billion for the construction of 22 F-35s. The Air Force and Marines will each get five flying aircraft, the Navy four. The remaining eight will be nonflying versions for various testing programs. The Pentagon estimates it will eventually need as many as 3,000 F-35s, at a total cost of $200 billion.

The British government, which has been involved with the JSF project since the inception of the program in the mid-1990s, has expressed interest in buying either the F-35B or F-35C. A final decision is not likely until 2010 when, among other things, the prices of these aircraft can be estimated with greater certainty.

✈ Don’t miss any of our best-in-class military and defense coverage. Join our squadron.

The F-35 can fly at speeds as high as Mach 1.6 and can carry an internal payload of four weapons without compromising its stealth. But it’s not the F-35’s firepower that really makes the difference, it’s the computing power. It’s why F-35s have come to be known as “quarterbacks in the sky” or “a computer that happens to fly.”

“There has never been an aircraft that provides as much situational awareness as the F-35,” Major Justin “Hasard” Lee, an Air Force F-35 pilot instructor, tells Popular Mechanics. “In combat, situational awareness is worth its weight in gold.”

But for nearly its entire life, many have debated whether the F-35 is a game-changing platform or a case study in the excesses of the Pentagon’s weapon-acquisition process.

It turns out it’s both.

Complications and Headaches


The F-35 receives a robotic spray of radar-baffling coating along the leading edge of its wing and air intake.

Popular Mechanics / Randy A. Crites

While Lockheed’s lift fan approach to STOVL flight might’ve nabbed the contract, the hard part was just beginning.

Choosing to begin with the least complex iteration of the new fighter, Lockheed’s Skunk Works started designing the F-35A, intended for use in the U.S. Air Force as a traditional runway fighter like the F-16 Fighting Falcon. Once the F-35A was complete, the engineering team would then move on to the more complex STOVL F-35B for use by the U.S. Marine Corps, and then, finally, the F-35C meant for carrier duty.

There was just one problem—jamming all the necessary hardware for the different variants into a single fuselage proved extremely difficult. By the time Lockheed Martin wrapped up design work on the F-35A and got to work on the B, they realized the weight estimates they had established while designing the Air Force variant would lead to an aircraft that was 3,000 pounds too heavy. This miscalculation created a significant setback—the first of many.

Meet the F-35 Variants

To the outside observer, the differences between each F-35 variant can be difficult to detect— and for good reason. The only real differences among each iteration of the jet are related to basing requirements. In other words, the most noticeable differences are in how the fighter takes off and lands.



Intended for use by the U.S. Air Force and many allied nations, the F-35A is the conventional take off and landing (CTOL) variant. This aircraft is intended to operate out of traditional airstrips and is the only version of the F-35 to come equipped with a 25mm internal cannon, allowing it to step in for both the F-16 multirole fighter and the flying cannon A-10 Thunderbolt II, among many others.



The F-35B was purpose-built for short take off and vertical landing operations (STOVL) and was designed with the needs of the U.S. Marine Corps in mind. While still able to operate off of traditional runways, the STOVL capability offered by the F-35B allows Marines to operate these jets from austere runways or off the decks of amphibious assault ships, often referred to as “Lightning Carriers.”



The F-35C is the first stealth fighter ever designed for carrier operations with the U.S. Navy. It boasts larger wings than its peers, to allow for slower approach speeds when landing on a carrier. More robust landing gear aids in tough carrier landings, and it harbors a larger fuel supply (20,000 pounds’ worth) internally to support longer range missions. The C is also the only F-35 equipped with folding wings, allowing for easier storage in the hull of ships.

“It turns out when you combine the requirements of the three services, what you end up with is the F-35, which is an aircraft that is in many ways suboptimal for what each of the services really want,” Todd Harrison, an aerospace expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the New York Times in 2019.

Lockheed Martin’s team would eventually work out the finer points of each different platform, leaving as much of the aircraft consistent across branches as possible. But pulling off this engineering magic trick led to a series of delays and cost overruns.

Lockheed Martin’s bad arithmetic in the weight category stretched early development by 18 months and cost a daunting $6.2 billion to correct, but it was just the first of many issues to plague the new Joint Strike Fighter. It wouldn’t be until February of 2006, five years after Lockheed won the contract, that the first F-35A would roll off the assembly line. But these early F-35s weren’t even ready to fight because the Pentagon had chosen to begin production before they had completed testing.

Lockheed Martin chose Pratt & Whitney to power their new stealth fighter, using an F135 engine derived from the F119 used in the F-22 Raptor. The powerful engine produces 40,000 pounds of thrust, just less than the F-15 pulls out of two Pratt & Whitney F-100-PW-220 engines.

This approach, called “concurrency,” was meant to ship out F-35s sooner with plans to go back and correct identified issues later. Unfortunately, a long list of problems meant each of these early fighters needed massive overhauls that were often too pricey to pursue.

By 2010, nine years after Lockheed Martin was awarded the JSF contract, the cost per F-35 had ballooned to over 89 percent higher than initial estimates. It would still be another eight years before the first operational F-35s would get into the fight. To this day, the aircraft still hasn’t been approved for full-rate production, largely due to ongoing software issues.

Knowing Is Half the Battle

Cockpit instrumentation of the F-35 Lightning II.

So what really separates the pricey F-35 from the fighter jets that’ve come before it? Two words: data management.

Today’s pilots have to manage a huge amount of information while flying, and doing so means splitting your time between traveling the speed of sound and a collage of screens, gauges, and sensor readouts screaming for your attention. Unlike previous fighter jets, the F-35 uses a combination of a heads-up display and helmet-based augmented reality to keep vital information directly in the pilot’s field of view.

Inside the F-35 Helmet


It’s not just how the information reaches the pilot, but also how it’s collected. The F-35 is capable of gathering information from a wide variety of sensors located on the aircraft and from information sourced from ground vehicles, drones, other aircraft, and nearby ships. It collects all of that information—as well as network-driven data about targets and nearby threats—and spits it all out into a single interface the pilot can easily manage while flying.

With a god’s eye view of the area, F-35 pilots can coordinate efforts with fourth-generation aircraft, making them deadlier in the process.


“In the F-35, we’re the quarterback of the battlefield—our job is to make everyone around us better,” says Lee. “Fourth-gen fighters like the F-16 and F-15 will be with us until at least the late 2040s. Because there are so many more of them than us, our job is to use our unique assets to shape the battlefield and make it more survivable for them.”

Tony “Brick” Wilson, who served in the U.S. Navy for 25 years prior to joining Lockheed Martin as a test pilot, has flown over 20 different aircraft, from helicopters to the U-2 spy plane and even a Russian MiG-15. According to him, the F-35 is—by far—the easiest aircraft to fly that he’s come across.

“As we moved into fourth-generation fighters like the F-16, we moved from being pilots to being sensor managers,” Wilson says. “Now, with the F-35, sensor fusion allows us to take some of that sensor management responsibility off the pilot’s hands, allowing us to be true tacticians.”

The Fighter of the Future

Today, over 500 F-35 Lighting IIs have been delivered to nine nations and are operating out of 23 air bases around the world. That’s more than Russia’s fleet of fifth-generation Su-57s and China’s fleet of J-20s combined. With literally thousands more on order, the F-35 promises to be the backbone of U.S. air power.

And unlike previous fighter generations, the F-35’s capabilities are expected to keep up with the times. Thanks to software architecture designed to allow the F-35 to receive frequent updates, the aircraft’s form has stayed the same, but its function has already changed radically.

“The airplane that took that first flight back in 2006 may have looked identical on the outside, but it was a very different aircraft than the one we’re flying today,” Wilson says. “And the F-35 flying ten years from now is going to be very different from the one that we’re flying today.”

The F-35 will also serve as a test bed for technologies that will become commonplace in the next generation of jets. Flying in coordination with AI-enabled drones will become a staple of any sixth-generation fighter, and those new fighter tricks will likely first arrive in the form of the F-35.

“I look at the most capable, most connected, most survivable aircraft on the face of the planet and what we’re able to achieve with it today,” Wilson says. “I can only imagine what tomorrow’s F-35 is going to be capable of.”

Lockheed F-35 Lightning II

Alex Hollings is the editor of the Sandboxx blog and a former U.S. Marine that writes about defense policy and technology. He lives with his wife and daughter in Georgia.

Old and Bold


The F-35C (right) is larger for better low-speed handling. Computerized manufacturing (left) will cut production costs.

Lockheed Martin’s design represents a blend of old and bold technologies. The F-35 achieves its stealthy, small radar cross by relying heavily on an airframe and engine inlet design that borrows liberally from the F-22 Raptor, also built by Lockheed Martin.

Initially, F-35s will use a modified version of the Pratt & Whitney F119 engine that powers the F-22. The F-35’s engine is designated the F135. If the F-35 goes into full production, all three versions of the aircraft also could use a direct-replacement F120 engine, to be built by General Electric.

The F-35 makes its most radical departure from the past with the choice of the lifting system for the F-35B jump jet. The Harriers currently operated by the Marines achieve vertical flight by diverting downward the hot gases expelled by the engine. The F-35B uses a design built around a lift fan. Lifting with cooler air offers several advantages. Chief among them are less heat stress on the engine and a smaller infrared signature for anti-aircraft missiles to home in on. The tradeoff is a higher degree of mechanical sophistication.

There are three parts to the lifting system. The first part is the lift fan. About half of the thrust needed to hover and land is created by forcing ambient air downward through a pair of doors that open directly behind the cockpit. Power comes from a 2-stage low-pressure turbine on the engine and is coupled to the lift fan through a clutch.

The fan itself consists of a pair of counterrotating turbines that are capable of creating as much as 18,000 pounds of thrust. Roughly the same amount of thrust is created by blasting hot gases from the engine downward, through a 3-bearing nozzle, the system’s second part. Finally, a pair of roll nozzles located under the wings provide balance.

A 21st-Century Fighter Jet

The Boeing X-32, left, and the X-35 from Lockheed Martin.

The aircraft we know today as the F-35 was built to meet the demands of multiple fighting forces with a single, highly capable aircraft.

In the May 2002 issue, Popular Mechanics explored the U.S. Military’s newest fighter: the F-35.

This new “Joint Strike Fighter,” Pentagon officials believed, would allow for streamlined logistical supply lines, maintenance, and training. It would also leverage the same stealth technologies found in the F-22.

With a laundry list of requirements from the U.S. Navy, Air Force, DARPA, and soon, the U.K. and Canada, the Joint Strike Fighter program quickly moved from its official proposal in 1995 to two competitive prototypes in 1997: Lockheed Martin’s X-35 and Boeing’s X-32. And the new fighter had its work cut out for it—the Joint Strike Fighter needed to replace at least five different aircraft across all the different services, including the high-speed interceptor F-14 Tomcat and the tank-killing close air support A-10 Thunderbolt II.

While replacing all these aircraft with one plane would (theoretically) save money, the long list of requirements led to a landslide of expensive complications. In fact, while the X-35 was still competing for the contract, many weren’t sure such an aircraft could even be built in significant numbers.

Оцените статью