PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – The U.S. Navy is ordering four F-35C carrier-based fighter-bomber jet aircraft from Lockheed Martin Corp. under terms of a $360.8 million deal announced Monday.
Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., are asking the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics segment in Fort Worth, Texas, to build four F-35C Carrier Variant Lot 14 aircraft. The F-35C, which has a tail hook, folding wings, and structural reinforcement, is designed to take off and land on aircraft carriers.
The F-35C with its advanced avionics is a fifth-generation single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole jet fighter-bomber designed to perform ground attack, aerial reconnaissance, and air defense missions. It is one of the most advanced combat jets in the world.
The F-35C is designed to replace or augment the Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18, and AV-8B tactical fighter and attack aircraft. Lockheed Martin has been developing the F-35 since 2001.
The single-seat F-35 military jet is 50.5 feet long, has 35-foot wingspan, and is 14 feet tall. It has one Pratt & Whitney F135 afterburning turbofan engine that can produce as much as 43,100 pounds of thrust.
The aircraft can fly as fast as Mach 1.6, can fly as high as 50,000 feet, and has a range of 1,200 miles. It has one 25-millimeter Gatling gun and can carry a variety of advanced air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, smart bombs, and conventional bombs.
The F-35's avionics includes the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-81 AESA radar; Lockheed Martin AAQ-40 electro-optical targeting system (EOTS); Northrop Grumman AN/AAQ-37 distributed aperture system (DAS) missile warning system; BAE Systems AN/ASQ-239 electronic warfare (EW) suite; and Northrop Grumman AN/ASQ-242 communications and navigation system.
The plane's navigation and communications include the Harris Corp. Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL); Link 16 data link; single-channel ground and airborne radio system (SINCGARS); IFF interrogator and transponder; HAVE QUICK radio; AM, VHF, UHF AM, and UHF FM radio systems; GUARD survival radio; radar altimeter; tactical air navigation (TACAN); instrument landing system for conventional runways and aircraft carriers; the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS); and the TADIL-J tactical digital information link with Joint-Variable-Message-Format (JVMF) communications.
F-35 pilots wear a helmet-mounted display that enables them simply to look at a target to shoot weapons, rather than pointing the entire aircraft at the target. The orientation of the pilot's head provides missile seeker heads with targeting information.
The combat aircraft -- one of the most expensive military weapon systems in history -- is designed to perform ground attack, aerial reconnaissance, and air defense missions. Last July the first squadron was declared ready for deployment. U.S. military leaders say they plan to buy 2,457 aircraft.
The F-35 variants, which included a short- and vertical-takeoff version, as one that operates from long conventional runways, are intended to provide the bulk of the manned tactical air power of the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. Deliveries of the F-35 for the U.S. military are scheduled to be completed in 2037.
Lockheed Martin and its partners will do the work on this order in Fort Worth, Texas; El Segundo and San Diego Calif.; Warton, England; Orlando, Fla.; Nashua, N.H.; Baltimore; and locations inside and outside of the U.S., and should be finished by May 2023.