F-35C Lightning II
Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
6 June 2010
Also Known As: F-35 CV, Joint Strike Fighter and JSF
Origin: United States of America
BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin* and Northrop Grumman (*) lead contractor
Parent System: F-35 Lightning II
Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
31 July 2015
15 December 2006
Family Members: F-35A Lightning II
, F-35B Lightning II
and F-35I Adir
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Description: The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is the United States Department of Defense (US DoD) program intended as the replacement for a variety of airborne platforms used by the US Air Force (USAF), US Navy (USN) and US Marine Corps (USMC) as well as allied nations. The F-35's size and maneuverability characteristics are similar to those of the F-16, its integrated avionics makes possible to carry out multiple missions using the same platform and its stealthy airframe gives the first-look, first-shoot capability. The first-look, first-shoot seems to be the cornerstone of air-to-air engagements of the 21st century as it did the maneuverability during the second half of the 20th century. Due to stealthy restrictions, the F-35 carries the weaponry in a single/double inner bay and not externally attached to hard points. The internal weapons bay reduces the drag providing a better aerodynamic performance. Less drag also translates into increased range and higher sustained speed. When air superiority has been established the F-35 can use weapons carried externally increasing its Radar Cross Section (RCS) and becoming more vulnerable to radar-based threats.
The F-35 aircraft will feature the fully integrated, nose-mounted EOTS providing day, night and all weather air-to-air/surface targeting, situational awareness, and target recognition. The EOTS advanced sensor will assume the functions of current LANTIRN, LITENING, and Sniper XR systems with the asset to be useful for air-to-air engagements using its Infrared (IR) search and track (IRST) capability. The F-35 main sensor, the APG-81 radar, is an active electronically scanned array (AESA). The F-35 primary role is air-to-surface precision strike with a secondary air-to-air capability. The Joint Strike Fighter concept is flexible enough to perform any mission. The United States is developing three main versions known as the F-35A (USAF), F-35B (USMC) and F-35C (USN and USMC). On 7 July 2006, the US Air Force chief of staff - General T. Michael Moseley - announced Lightning II as the F-35 name. The P-38 was the first aircraft named Lightning. P-38 was also a strike fighter and played an important role during World War II.
One key element of the F-35 JSF program is to reduce the aircraft's logistics support needs with less than half the people, parts and equipment to deploy rapidly anywhere in the world. The program also will focus on minimizing the reliance on aerial refueling aircraft. For fourth generation aircraft operation-and-support costs meant more than 60 percent of aircraft's total ownership costs. JSF will amend that figure by 20-30 percent. This will be done primarily through built-in Prognostics and Health Management (PHM) capabilities will monitor the status of aircraft systems and automatically transmit the information to maintainers on the ground. PHM will enable technicians to meet the aircraft with all necessary tools, people and parts to conduct the maintenance and get the plane airborne again quickly. The F-35 aircraft program expectations call for more than 3,000 airplanes to be produced by 2035 becoming the most important military program in the 21st century.
The Carrier-based (CV) F-35C was developed to replace the F/A-18C/D onboard the US Navy's aircraft carriers. The F-35C aircraft features larger wings and greater wing area as well as larger tail control surfaces for low-speed aircraft carrier operations. It also features strengthened landing gear and airframe to handle the loads associated with catapult launch and arrested landing operations. A refueling probe on the right side of the forward fuselage has been provided to the F-35C instead of the hose and dogue used by the F-35A. The United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and Navy studied the possibility of purchasing the F-35C variant but finally opted for the USMC F-35B STOVL aircraft. The F-35C performed its maiden flight on June 6, 2010, and is expected to achieve Initial Operational Capability (IOC) n the 2018-2020 timeframe. The US Navy plans call for the procurement of 260 aircraft and the US Marine Corps plans call for the acquisition of 80 F-35Cs replacing its F/A-18C/Ds operating from the US Navy's aircraft carriers. No export orders are expected for the F-35C.
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