F-35 Lightning II
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II (so named in honor of the WWII era Lockheed P-38 Lightning) is a single seat next-generation multi-role strike aircraft with stealth capabilities. It is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan engine capable of producing in excess of 40,000 pounds of thrust.
The JSF concept involved a single common airframe with multiple variants to fulfill multiple roles and to serve the US Air Force (USAF), the US Navy (USN) and the US Marine Corps (USMC), which has been challenging in the past due to each force's unique requirements (and their preferences over contractors; USAF has preferred Lockheed Martin while USN/USMC has preferred Boeing). As such, the F-35 has three distinct variants, each engineered for their respective roles and customers:
- The F-35A is the conventional take off/landing (CTOL) version primarily intended for the USAF as a replacement for the aging F-16 Falcon and, to a lesser extent, the F-22 Raptor (USAF's original stealth fighter).
- The F-35B is a short take off/vertical landing (STOVL) version intended primarily for the USMC as a replacement for the AV-8B Harrier. It is this variant which has had the most difficulties in testing and later in production, due to the technical requirements.
- The F-35C is a carrier-based variant intended primarily for the USN as a replacement for older model F/A-18 Hornets (A/B/C variants) which in turn replaced the venerable Vought A-7 Corsair II and Grumman A-6 Intruder.
In August 2023 it was reported that the Belgian Ministry of Defense officially refused to accept deliveries of its first batches of F-35a stealth Fighters which it ordered in 2018. The aircraft still continues to be produced in a technically defective version and requires many improvements for its key components.