F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: Aircraft profile

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Following an intense four-year competition, the U.S. Department of Defense on 26 October 2001, named the Lockheed Martin lead Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) team as the winner of the contract to develop the F-35 JSF.

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing

The F-35 team immediately entered the program’s 10-year System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase.

The SDD period involves the development and testing of the entire aircraft system, including its manufacture. During SDD, the team will build a total of 22 test aircraft. Fourteen will undergo flight-testing, seven will be used for non-airborne test activities, and one will be used to evaluate the F-35’s radar signature.

Nine nations are partnering in the F-35’s SDD phase: The United States, United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Australia. Partnership in SDD entitles those countries to bid for work on a best value basis, and participate in the aircraft’s development. Additionally, Israel and Singapore have agreed to join the program as a Security Cooperation Participants.

Lockheed Martin is the F-35 prime contractor, while Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems are principal partners in the project.

Final assembly of the F-35 will take place at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Fort Worth, Texas. Northrop Grumman Corporation in Palmdale and El Segundo, California will manufacture the center-fuselage, and the aft fuselage and tails will be manufactured by BAE Systems in Samlesbury, England. Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth will manufacture the forward fuselage and wings.

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing

Flight-testing will be conducted at Fort Worth, Edwards Air Force Base, and Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Additionally, the STOVL and CV variants will undergo sea trials aboard American, British and Italian aircraft carriers.

Background

The F-35 is drastically more than just a jet; it is a highly integrated air system. The system is comprised of many key parts such as the propulsion system, the avionics suite, the weapons systems, an autonomic logistics system and the list continues.

The single-engine, single-seat F-35 will be manufactured in three versions: a conventional-takeoff-and-landing (CTOL) variant for the U.S. Air Force, an aircraft-carrier version (CV) for the U.S. Navy, and a short-takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) version for the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.K. Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.

The requirements for the Joint Strike Fighter are complex – from the start it must reach new heights of lethality, but be affordable. It must be survivable during the rigors of combat and supportable from austere environments. All the while, the F-35 JSF must meet all of these diverse needs of multiple services and still be affordable.

The 1970s saw the production of many of today's aircraft that comprise most of the U.S. tactical aircraft inventory. The combination of service-life exhaustion and escalating threats will require all of the services to slowly retire their current tactical aircraft. These issues are not restricted to the U.S. The Royal Air Force and Royal Navy Harriers underscore similar problems. Other U.S. allies have are having the same problem.

The F-35 is designed to replace aging fighter inventories including U.S. Air Force A-10s and F-16s, U.S. Navy F/A-18s, U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers and F/A-18s, and U.K. Harrier GR.7s and Sea Harriers. With stealth and a host of next-generation technologies, the F-35 will be far and away the world’s most advanced multi-role fighter. There exists an aging fleet of tactical aircraft worldwide. The F-35 will solve that problem.

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: A-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: A-Variant testing

In providing that solution, the Joint Strike Fighter program has since day one had four program pillars:

Affordable

All variants of the F-35 will be procured within their target cost range. Operation and support costs will be dramatically reduced.

Lethal

Air-to-ground precision strikes in all weather … air-to-air combat engagements – every F-35 variant will be highly effective in both arenas.

Survivable

Stealthy, high-performance, supersonic strike fighters – The F-35 successfully integrates the technologies that will make every mission more survivable.

Supportable

Reliability and maintainability – The F-35 will be setting new standards for both, enabling lower support costs and easier upgrades than legacy aircraft.

The F-35 JSF program, while embracing the four pillars, is a single development program. The F-35 is addressing the needs of legacy aircraft users in a single program. The cost savings will continue through the life of the program. Duplications of efforts are being avoided, technology is more effectively leveraged, and greater economies of scale are being achieved through the joint acquisition of the F-35.

Affordability is the cornerstone of the F-35 program. It is achieved in large part through a very high level of common parts and systems across the three versions of the aircraft. Support costs are forecast to be about half that of present-day fighters, and streamlined assembly methods will cut production time significantly.

With nine countries (and their collective industrial prowess) involved in its development, the F-35 represents a new model of international cooperation, ensuring affordable U.S. and coalition partner security well into the 21st century. The F-35 also brings together solid strategic international partnerships, providing affordability by reducing redundant research and development and providing access to technology around the world.

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing

From ongoing production today through testing and full service in the future, the F-35 will seamlessly incorporate the latest technological advancements as they emerge. Its solid aerodynamic design is specifically developed with room to grow, room that will continue to ensure that the F-35 will be a highly adaptable platform ready to accommodate rapidly changing technologies. The F-35 is a smart fighter that will get even smarter as new threats and the technologies to counter them emerge.

The F-35 will be extremely lethal. It will have excellent aerodynamic performance and advanced integrated avionics. It's next generation stealth, superb situational awareness and reduced vulnerability will make the F-35 hard to find, hard to hit and hard to kill.

The F-35 will create a truly global, highly effective fighter force. As the first U.S. combat aircraft acquisition program to have had international participation from its inception, the JSF closes the “capability gap” between the U.S. and its allies and ensures that coalition forces are able to tackle heavily defended targets alongside U.S. forces. The first F-35A is scheduled to take to the skies in late 2006.

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: Over Fort Worth, Texas, an F-35 Lightning II test aircraft AA-1 undergoes a flight check. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: Over Fort Worth, Texas, an F-35 Lightning II test aircraft AA-1 undergoes a flight check. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

Technology

Autonomic Logistics (AL)

Because logistics support accounts for two-thirds of an aircraft's life cycle cost, the F-35 will achieve unprecedented levels of reliability and maintainability, combined with a highly responsive support and training system linked with the latest in information technology. The aircraft will be ready to fight anytime and anyplace. Autonomic Logistics (AL) is a seamless, embedded solution that integrates current performance, operational parameters, current configuration, scheduled upgrades and maintenance, component history, predictive diagnostics (prognostics) and health management, and service support for the F-35. Essentially, AL does invaluable and efficient behind-the-scenes monitoring, maintenance and prognostics to support the aircraft and ensure its continued good health.

Commonality

Commonality is the key to affordability – on the assembly line; in shared-wing platforms; in common systems that enhance maintenance, field support and service interoperability; and in almost 100 percent commonality of the avionics suite. Component commonality across all three variants reduces unique spares requirements and the logistics footprint. In addition to reduced flyaway costs, the F-35 is designed to affordably integrate new technology during its entire life cycle.

Distributed Aperture System

In a joint effort with Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems will provide key electronic sensors for the F-35, which includes spearheading the work on the Electro-Optical Distributed Aperture System (DAS). This system will provide pilots with a unique protective sphere around the aircraft for enhanced situational awareness, missile warning, aircraft warning, day/night pilot vision, and fire control capability.

Diverterless Inlet

The F-35's diverterless inlet lightens the overall weight of the aircraft. Traditional aircraft inlets were comprised of many moving parts and are much heavier than newer diverterless inlets. The diverterless inlet also eliminates all moving parts.

Electro-Optical Targeting System

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems are jointly providing key electronic sensors for the F-35 to include the Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS). The internally mounted EOTS will provide extended range detection and precision targeting against ground targets, plus long range detection of air-to-air threats.

Helmet Mounted Display System

Vision Systems International, LLC (VSI) is developing the most advanced and capable Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) for the F-35. Utilizing extensive design experience gained on successful production Helmet Mounted Displays (HMD), the F-35 HMDS will replace the traditional Head-Up-Display (HUD) while offering true sensor fusion.

Integrated Communications, Navigation and Identification Avionics

Northrop Grumman Space Technology's integrated avionics satisfy the requirements for greatly increased functionalities within extreme space and weight limitations via modular hardware that could be dynamically programmed to reconfigure for multiple functions. This "smart"-box approach delivers increased performance, quicker deployment, higher availability, enhanced scalability and lower life cycle costs.

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter takes off for its initial flight Dec. 15 over Fort Worth, Texas. (Lockheed Martin photo/Tom Harvey)F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter takes off for its initial flight Dec. 15 over Fort Worth, Texas. (Lockheed Martin photo/Tom Harvey)

Interoperability

The F-35 will have the most robust communications suite of any fighter aircraft built to date. The F-35 will be the first fighter to possess a satellite communications capability that integrates beyond line of sight communications throughout the spectrum of missions it is tasked to perform. The F-35 will contain the most modern tactical datalinks which will provide the sharing of data among its flight members as well as other airborne, surface and ground-based platforms required to perform assigned missions. The commitment of JSF partner nations to common communications capabilities and web-enabled logistics support will enable a new level of coalition interoperability. These capabilities allow the F-35 to lead the defense community in the migration to the net-centric warfighting force of the future.

Low Observability

An integrated airframe design, advanced materials and an axisymmetric nozzle maximize the F-35's stealth features.

Multi-Function Display System

Rockwell Collins's 8"x20" Multi-Function Display System (MFDS) will be the panoramic projection display for the F-35. MFDS employs leading edge technology in projection engine architecture, video, compression, illumination module controls and processing memory – all of which will make the MFDS the most advanced tactical display. One-gigabyte-per-second data interfaces will enable the MFDS to display six full motion images simultaneously. The adaptable layout will be easily reconfigurable for different missions or mission segments. Projection display technology will provide a high-luminance, high-contrast, and high-resolution picture with no viewing angle effect.

Multi-Mission Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar

Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems is developing the Multi-Mission Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar for the F-35. This advanced multi-function radar has gone through extensive flight demonstrations during the Concept Demonstration Phase (CDP). The radar will enable the F-35 JSF pilot to effectively engage air and ground targets at long range, while also providing outstanding situational awareness for enhanced survivability.

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: A-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: A-Variant testing

Propulsion

The F-35 Propulsion Systems are the most powerful fighter/attack turbofans in the world. There are two manufacturers with propulsion systems currently being tested. The propulsion systems are interchangeable and both will power the F-35. There are two major engine variants for the F-35. One engine will power the CTOL and CV versions of the aircraft, while the other will power the STOVL version. The F135 engine is made by Pratt & Whitney, the F136 by a team, known as the Fighter Engine Team comprised of General Electric and Rolls-Royce. Both the F135 and the F136 STOVL engines will utilize common exhaust and Lift System systems.

F135

The Pratt & Whitney F135 family of advanced propulsion systems utilize cutting edge technology to provide the F-35 with higher performance than conventional fighter aircraft. The engine consists of a 3-stage fan, a 6-stage compressor, an annular combustor, a single stage high-pressure turbine, and a 2 stage low-pressure turbine.

The F135 is currently in the SDD phase. The F135 is using the lessons learned from the F119 engine core and the JSF119 during the CDA stage to reduce risk in SDD. During SDD the F135 test engines will undergo a range of ground and flight tests to simulate various mission profiles. In these tests the system demonstration engines will be run for hours throughout various flight envelopes to ensure they meet performance requirements. One of the vital milestone tests occured at the end of 2003 with the first F135 engine to test.

The first CTOL F135 engine test occurred on 11 October 2003. The first STOVL F135 engine test occurred on 14 April 2004. To date over 2,000 hours have been accumulated on the F135 test engines.

F136

The GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team (FET) F136 engine is currently in the Pre-SDD phase. The objective of the F136 Pre-SDD phase is to reduce risk prior to entering SDD. The FET is utilizing technology developed from previous aircraft engine programs to design this engine. The F136 engine consists of a 3-stage fan, 5-stage compressor, a 3-stage low-pressure turbine section and a single stage high-pressure turbine.

The F136 team will transition into the SDD phase of their program later in 2005. The F135 and F136 teams are working closely to develop common propulsion system components.

The first CTOL F136 engine to test occurred on 22 July 2004. The first STOVL F136 engine to test occurred on 10 February 2005. To date, the F136 team has accumulated over 130 hours of engine tests.

Rolls-Royce Lift System

While Rolls-Royce is a member of the Fighter Engine Team with GE on the F136, they are also subcontracted to Pratt & Whitney on the F135 to provide the Lift System for the F-35. The Lift System is comprised of the Lift Fan, Clutch, Drive Shaft, Roll Posts and the Three Bearing Swivel Module (3BSM).

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing

Shaft Driven Lift Fan (SDLF)

Lockheed Martin developed the idea for a Short Take-Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) lift system that uses a vertically oriented Shaft Driven Lift Fan (SDLF). A two-stage low-pressure turbine on the engine provides the horsepower necessary to power the Rolls-Royce designed Lift Fan. The Lift Fan generates a column of cool air that provides nearly 20,000 pounds of lifting power using variable inlet guide vanes to modulate the airflow, along with an equivalent amount of thrust from the downward vectored rear exhaust to lift the aircraft. The Lift Fan utilizes a clutch that engages the shaft drive system for STOVL operations. Because the lift fan extracts power from the engine, exhaust temperatures are reduced by about 200 degrees compared to traditional STOVL systems.

The SDLF concept was successfully demonstrated through a Large Scale Powered Model (LSPM) in 1995-96 and during the flight-testing of the X-35B during the summer of 2001. The Lift Fan, a patented Lockheed Martin concept, was developed and produced by Rolls-Royce Corp. in Indianapolis, Indiana and in Bristol, England.

Robust Structure

Continuous tailhook-to-nose-gear structure and catapult-compatible nose gear launch system are strengthened for catapult and arresting loads.

Sophisticated Cockpit

The F-35 provides its pilot with unsurpassed situational awareness, positive target identification and precision strike under any weather condition. Mission systems integration and outstanding over-the-nose visibility features are designed to dramatically enhance pilot performance.

Weapons Integration

The F-35 will employ a variety of US and allied weapons. From JDAMs to Sidewinders to the UK Storm Shadow, the F-35 has been designed to carry either internally or externally a large array of weapons.

Variants

F35A

Conventional Take Off & Landing (CTOL)
Span (ft) 35
Length (ft) 50.5
Wing Area (ft2) 460
Internal Fuel (lb) 18,498

F35B

Short Take Off/Vertical Landing (STOVL)
Span (ft) 35
Length (ft) 50.5
Wing Area (ft2) 460
Internal Fuel (lb) 13,326

F35C

Carrier Variant (CV)
Span (ft) 43
Length (ft) 50.8
Wing Area (ft2) 620
Internal Fuel (lb) 19,624

Source: Joint Strike Fighter program

More photos:

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter side: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter side: B-Variant testing

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: A-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: A-Variant testing

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: B-Variant testing

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: The X-35, Joint Strike Fighter from Lockheed Martin nears completion of flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in 2001. The JSF is being built in three variants: a conventional take-off and landing aircraft (CTOL) for the US Air Force; a carrier based variant (CV) for the US Navy; and a short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft for the US Marine Corps and the Royal Navy. (U.S. Air Force photo)F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: The X-35, Joint Strike Fighter from Lockheed Martin nears completion of flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in 2001. The JSF is being built in three variants: a conventional take-off and landing aircraft (CTOL) for the US Air Force; a carrier based variant (CV) for the US Navy; and a short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft for the US Marine Corps and the Royal Navy. (U.S. Air Force photo)

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: A-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: A-Variant testing

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: PALMDALE, Calif. -- Lockheed Martin's X-35C Joint Strike Fighter concept demonstrator crosses a dry lakebed on its way to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The X-35C will undergo testing at Edwards for more than a month before moving on to Naval Air Station Paxtuxent River, Md. (Courtesy photo by Judson Brohmer)F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: PALMDALE, Calif. -- Lockheed Martin's X-35C Joint Strike Fighter concept demonstrator crosses a dry lakebed on its way to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The X-35C will undergo testing at Edwards for more than a month before moving on to Naval Air Station Paxtuxent River, Md. (Courtesy photo by Judson Brohmer)

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: A-Variant testingF-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: A-Variant testing

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: The X-35C Joint Strike Fighter concept demonstrator leaves Palmdale, Calif., for nearby Edwards Air Force Base. The 27-minute sortie was the X-35C's maiden flight. (Courtesy photo by Greg Roberts)F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: The X-35C Joint Strike Fighter concept demonstrator leaves Palmdale, Calif., for nearby Edwards Air Force Base. The 27-minute sortie was the X-35C's maiden flight. (Courtesy photo by Greg Roberts)

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Lt. Col. Paul Smith holds the X-35A Joint Strike Fighter steady in behind a 418th Flight Test Squadron KC-135 tanker during the X-35A's first refueling mission. (Courtesy photo by Judson Brohmer)F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Lt. Col. Paul Smith holds the X-35A Joint Strike Fighter steady in behind a 418th Flight Test Squadron KC-135 tanker during the X-35A's first refueling mission. (Courtesy photo by Judson Brohmer)

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Lt. Col. Paul Smith holds the X-35A Joint Strike Fighter steady in behind a 418th Flight Test Squadron KC-135 tanker during the X-35A's first refueling mission. (Courtesy photo by Tom Reynolds)F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Lt. Col. Paul Smith holds the X-35A Joint Strike Fighter steady in behind a 418th Flight Test Squadron KC-135 tanker during the X-35A's first refueling mission. (Courtesy photo by Tom Reynolds)

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Lt. Col. Paul Smith holds the X-35A Joint Strike Fighter steady in behind a 418th Flight Test Squadron KC-135 tanker during the X-35A's first refueling mission. (Courtesy photo by Tom Reynolds)F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Lt. Col. Paul Smith holds the X-35A Joint Strike Fighter steady in behind a 418th Flight Test Squadron KC-135 tanker during the X-35A's first refueling mission. (Courtesy photo by Tom Reynolds)

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: Lockheed Martin's Joint Strike Fighter concept demonstrator, the X-35A, broke the sound barrier Nov. 21, 2000, at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The X-35A has finished flight testing and now is being re-fitted in nearby Palmdale to become the X-35B. (Courtesy photo by Tom Reynolds)F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: Lockheed Martin's Joint Strike Fighter concept demonstrator, the X-35A, broke the sound barrier Nov. 21, 2000, at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The X-35A has finished flight testing and now is being re-fitted in nearby Palmdale to become the X-35B. (Courtesy photo by Tom Reynolds)

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: Lockheed Martin's X-35A Joint Strike Fighter Concept demonstrator broke the sound barrier Nov. 21, 2000, just 25 hours and 25 test flights into its airborne program at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The X-35A is being re-fitted into the X-35B and has begun ground testing in preparation for its short takeoff/vertical landing demonstrations. (Courtesy photo by Tom Reynolds)F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: Lockheed Martin's X-35A Joint Strike Fighter Concept demonstrator broke the sound barrier Nov. 21, 2000, just 25 hours and 25 test flights into its airborne program at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The X-35A is being re-fitted into the X-35B and has begun ground testing in preparation for its short takeoff/vertical landing demonstrations. (Courtesy photo by Tom Reynolds)

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: Over Fort Worth, Texas, an F-35 Lightning II test aircraft AA-1 undergoes a flight check. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: Over Fort Worth, Texas, an F-35 Lightning II test aircraft AA-1 undergoes a flight check. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter makes its initial flight Dec. 15 over Fort Worth, Texas. (Lockheed Martin photo/David Drais)F-35-Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter: The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter makes its initial flight Dec. 15 over Fort Worth, Texas. (Lockheed Martin photo/David Drais)

More photos: F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter photo gallery

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