Fast Facts

F-35As in flight


With large amounts of current military aircraft nearing the end of their life spans, a new tactical fighter is necessary to supplement and eventually phase out aging aircraft. The F-35 Lightning II is an advanced multi-role fighter meant to address this issue for both the US and our allies.

The F-35 is six times more effective at surveillance and air-to-air combat and eight times more effective at air-to-ground attacks than previous military aircraft. These advanced fighters will compensate for the eventual reduction of aircraft such as the U.S. Air Force F-16 and A-10. By 2019, the US fleet of F-35s will cost the same as the aircraft they are to replace.

The technologies integrated with the F-35 Lightning II are just one reason it is superior to existing aircraft. Pilots of these advanced fighters are given 360 degree situational awareness and additional information regarding their surroundings. It is also highly automated, allowing pilots to focus more attention than ever on successfully completing their missions.

The advanced stealth systems on the F-35 make it much more difficult to be detected and destroyed by opposing forces, so it can deliver its increased lethal power more safely, and with increased precision and accuracy. F-35s also have high-tech features that increase the safety of the aircraft and the pilot. The fighter is equipped with mechanisms allowing the aircraft to regain control automatically while stalling, and enables the pilot to direct attacks at the same time.

While the technologies currently used with the F-35 are some of the best currently available, they have also been designed to be upgradeable, making it more adaptable, resilient, and responsive to the defense goals and needs of the future. As new threats emerge, new technologies will also emerge to counter them. The F-35 is a platform designed to confront those challenges as they emerge.

The F-35 is made in three distinct variants: a conventional takeoff-and-landing version for the U.S. Air Force, an aircraft-carrier version for the U.S. Navy, and a short-takeoff/vertical landing version manufactured for the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.K. Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. All three of these share many common parts and systems, reducing the overall cost. In addition, the F-35 is projected to require approximately half as much support costs when compared to current fighters.

The F-35 is the product of international collaboration between nine nations (United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and Australia).

Lockeed Martin F-35s