PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – U.S. and allied military air forces are ordering 114 new lot-13 F-35 fighter-bomber jet aircraft of various configurations from Lockheed Martin Corp. under terms of a $7 billion order announced Monday.
The F-35 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.
Officials of the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md. -- the organization handling F-35 aviation technology procurement for all military forces -- are ordering conventional and vertical takeoff and landing versions, as well as carrier versions of the F-35 combat jet from the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics segment in Fort Worth, Texas.
The order involves 83 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) jet aircraft for operation from conventional long runways; 22 F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) jet aircraft for operation from small ships and unimproved runways; and nine F-35C reinforced aircraft with folding wings for aircraft carrier operations.
The order is for 48 F-35As aircraft and sensor packages for the U.S. Air Force; 15 F-35As for the government of Australia; 12 F-35As for the government of Norway; eight F-35As for the government of Italy; 20 F-35Bs for the U.S. Marine Corps; two F-35Bs for Italy; and nine F-35Cs for the U.S. Navy.
The order also provides for air system diminishing manufacturing sources integration, software data loads, critical safety items, red gear, non-recurring engineering, recurring engineering, and the Joint Strike Fighter Airborne Data Emulator.
The F-35 is designed to replace U.S. F-16, A-10, 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 L3Harris Technologies 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 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.
On this order Lockheed Martin and its partners will do the work on this contract in Fort Worth, Texas; El Segundo and San Diego, Calif.; Warton, England; Cameri, Italy; Orlando, Fla.; Nashua, N.H.; Nagoya, Japan; Baltimore; and locations outside the continental U.S., and should be finished by March 2023.