PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – Combat aircraft designers at Lockheed Martin Corp. will build 127 F-35 jet fighter-bombers for U.S. military services and allies under terms of a $7.8 billion order announced on Friday.
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 asking the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics segment in Fort Worth, Texas, to procure 127 Lot 16 F-35 joint strike fighter aircraft.
This order consists of 89 F-35As configured for use from long runways; 23 F-35Bs for short- and vertical-takeoff applications, and 15 F-35Cs for use aboard aircraft carriers.
The order includes support of F-35 Lot 15 aircraft and auxiliary equipment for the F-35 program for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps; as well as non-U.S. Department of Defense participants, and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers.
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.
Other than the U.S. military, F-35 operators include Australia; United Kingdom; Belgium; Denmark; Finland; Italy; Japan; The Netherlands; Norway; Poland; South Korea; Thailand; United Arab Emirates; Israel; and Singapore.
The F-35 is replacing 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, as high as 50,000 feet, and has a range of 1,200 miles. It has one 25-millimeter Gatling gun and can carry advanced air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, smart bombs, and conventional bombs.
The F-35's avionics and sensors include 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-to-air missions. 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.
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.; Cameri, Italy; Baltimore; and Nagoya, Japan, and should be finished by August 2026.