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 F-35A’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 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.
All variants of the F-35 will be procured within their target cost range with operation and support costs kept low. Air-to-ground precision strikes in all weather and suitable for air-to-air combat engagements. All F-35s incorporate low observable technology.