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About the F-35 Lightning II fighter Jet plane- or All-Purpose Combat plane
The F-35 has been under development since 2001 by Lookheed under a project originally named Joint Field Striker (JFS) headed by the American ministry of defence with some contribution from allies. It was intended to be fully developed by 2008, but the project is so far 7 years behind the schedule, and is not expected to be combat ready before 2015-2018. The project is working however under a philosophy of beginning the production and test of the planes before fully developed with new details installed on existing planes as they get ready. The plane is therefore by 2013 under test in several squdrons in USA and UK, and pilots are under training.
The plane which is intended to replace most existing fighter planes now in use by USA and allies, is produced in three versions.
The A-version (CTOVL-version) is the the simplest and cheapest on, but also the versjon ith highest capcities in the air, because it does not have to carry extra equipment for special take-odd and landing conditions. It is for use by land based forces. It takes off and land in ordinary mode from airports.
The B-version (STOVL version) is for use by the US marines and similar corpses that operate from small aircraft carriers or combination vessels with a caertain carrier capacity.This can take off vertically by low load and after short run by heavy load, and it can land vertically. The short or vertical take off and landing is achieved mith a flexible nozzle at the back that can direct the jet stream downward and even somewhat foreward under the plane, and a fan just behind the cabin that blows air from the top out from the bottom. The fan is driven by the motor.
The C-version (CATOBAR version) is for use on greater aircraft carriers. It can take off by the help of a catapult and stop after landing by help of a hook and wire. It also has hinged wings so it can be stored in a less place.
Even though it si generally called a fighter plane, it is actually a mulitirole combat aircraft intended to be used as an air to air feighter, air to ground fighter and bomber, air to ship fighter and bomber, for communication jamming, for reconessance and for combat lead. It is not intended to be used as a long range bomber though.
Technical properties of F35 lightning
The plane has stealth capabilities, which means that it is little visble on radar and is thus supposed to be able to approch near to a goal without being detected. These properties are achieved with a coating that absorbs much of the radar waves, with a shape that reflects the remaining radar waves in other angles than stright back to the radar, with shielding of hot spots in the plane and by hiding weapons in intarnal bays. The plane also has cooling at hot spots avhieved by circulating fuel. But by full weapom load, much of the weapons must be mounted under the wings and then much of the stealth properties are lot.
The plane has a top speed of around 1.6 mach fully loaded, which is below the top speed of many of the planes it shall replace. It is however capable of flying in a supercruice mode during a limited time, which is flying above the speed of sound without using the afterburner. It is capable of swing radiuses that excert a centripetal force of 4.5-6 G which is also below the capabilities of the planes it shall replace, and below the original requirements for the plane. It has a mission range of 1200 nml (2200 km) or combat radious of 584 nmi (1,080 km) on internal fuel, but that can be extended with outer tanks. The plane has also the ability to be refilled from an air-born tanker.
The fairly low dynamic properties are a direct consequence of the construction properties needed to make a stealth plane. One does not yet know if the stealth properties are worth sacrifising top dynamic perfomance, and one will not know before the plane has been proven in real combat situations.
The plane is powered by one single turbofan motor especially constructed by Pratt and Whitney for this plane. This motor is the most powerful in the world of its size, but yet this heavy plane is concidered somewhat underpowered and the motor is concidered somwhat ineconomical. A new motor is therefore under construction for future versions of F-35 and other planes, that wil exploit the fuel better, and therefore allow higher speed and longer range.
Hydraulic actuators in the plane use fuel as driving fluid instead of oil from a separate oil tank in order to spare place and weight. This arrangement has been critizised because it can cause fuel leakage and greater risk for fire.
The plane has only one single seat. The stearing functions of F-35 are easy to use and highly utomated, which allow the pilot to use more of his skill on strategy and use of weapons. The plane is also equipped with highly efficient and long reaching capabilities of keeping overview, detecting targets and threats and aiming at the targets. Also functions like aiming and fireing are easy to use and higly automated. he system can detect possible targets automatically, and hold aim at these until the pilot decides to fire. A key component of the pilot's equipment is a helmet with a vizire that gives him a 360 degree overview and which allows to aiming at a target by merely moving his head. These functions can also be controlled with voice. The plane is also equipped with advanced functions to take down information from satelites and sharing information with ground based command and other aircrafts in the air.
Weapon load of the F35 Lightning all purpose combate plane
The plane has internal bays for up to 8 missiles, or bombs, depending of the size of each unit. It also has an internal gatling gun with 4 barrels. Further loads of bombs or missiles must be mounted under the wings, and for that it has 12 pylons. all types of missiles and bombs up to a certain size can be mounted in or on the plane, including nuclear weapons. Some of the weapons it can be equipped with as by 2013 are:
Air-to-air missiles: AIM-120 AMRAAM
MBDA Meteor (pending further funding)
Brimstone missile / MBDA SPEAR
Joint Air-to-Ground Missile
Storm Shadow missile
Mark 84, Mark 83 and Mark 82 GP bombs Mk.20 Rockeye II cluster bomb
Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser capable
Paveway series laser-guided bombs
Small Diameter Bomb (SDB)
B61 nuclear bomb
(ihis list is fetched form Wikipedia.org, and is therefore free to be copied)
Support functions and lifetime economics of F35 lightning
The plane is constructed to be easy to maintain and key komponents can be replace within an hour. The estimated cost of each plane is $137 million which, is high and doubling since 2001. this is high, but the project claims that ease of pilot training and maintenance, and the fact that on single plane can perform several tasks, will spare overall money throughout the planes lifetime. the plane is esitnated to be in production to around 2035.
Here is a picture of the F-35-C, the aircraft carrier version in flight. From this angle all the 3 versions look like. The picture and the following are from Wikipedia and are free to reuse:
This is the picture of the pilot helmet for F-35 with the display system mounted:
Schematic pictures of the F-35-B, the vertical take-off and landing version:
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