The ABCs of the F-35: Why Are There Three Variants?via Forces Network
The F-35 jet has three variants: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier variant (CV).
The three variants perform similarly and are mainly distinguished by their different basing requirements. As a result, the F-35B and F-35C have unique ways to take off and land – due to their requirements for short take-off and landing or landing on carriers.
Using much of the same parts across the three variants allows for service-specific aircraft while allowing for savings to be made as a result of parts and processes being common to all three variants.