PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. † Fighter aircraft designers at Lockheed Martin Corp. are preparing to build eight F-35 jet-bombers for US allies under the terms of a $67.4 million order announced last week.
U.S. Naval Air Systems Command officials at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Maryland — the organization that handles the procurement of F-35 aviation technology for all armed forces — ask the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics segment in Fort Worth, Texas, for long items for production of 105 eight lot 17 F-35 joint strike fighter aircraft for an undisclosed foreign military sales customer.
The F-35 with its advanced avionics is a fifth-generation single-seat, single-engine, stealth multirole jet-bomber designed to perform ground attack, air reconnaissance and air defense missions. It is one of the most advanced combat aircraft in the world.
In addition to the US 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.
Long-lead items are either difficult and time-consuming to obtain, and are funded early in the aircraft design process to keep overall production on track. Contracts to build the rocket will come later.
The F-35 replaces the American F-16, A-10, F/A-18 and AV-8B tactical combat 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 a wingspan of 35 feet, and is 14 feet long. It has a Pratt & Whitney F135 afterburning turbofan engine that can produce a whopping 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 a 25 millimeter Gatling gun and can carry advanced air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, smart bombs and conventional bombs.
The avionics of the F-35 and sensors include the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-81 AESA radar; Lockheed Martin AAQ-40 Electro-Optical Sighting 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 aircraft’s navigation and communications include the Harris Corp. Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL); Link 16 data link; ground and airborne single channel radio system (SINCGARS); IFF interrogator and transponder; HAVE FAST 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) communication.
F-35 pilots wear a helmet-mounted display that allows them to simply look at a target to fire weapons, rather than have the entire aircraft pointed at the target. The orientation of the pilot’s head provides missile seekers with target information.
The combat aircraft – one of the most expensive military weapon systems in history – is designed to conduct ground strikes, aerial reconnaissance and air-to-air missions. US 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 force of the United States Air Force, Navy and Marines. Deliveries of the F-35 to the US military are scheduled for 2037.
Lockheed Martin and its partners will do the work on these deals in Fort Worth, Texas; El Segundo and San Diego, California; Warton, England; Orlando, Florida; Nashua, NH; Cameri, Italy; Baltimore; and in other locations outside the US, and should be ready by May 2026.
For more information, contact Lockheed Martin online at www.f35.com, or Naval Air Systems Command at www.navair.navy.mil.