Joint Strike Fighter
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is a fighter plane
currently in early development by Lockheed Martin. The
primary customers are the United States armed forces and
the United Kingdom (RN and RAF), but the Netherlands,
Australia, Turkey, Denmark, Norway, Singapore, Canada,
Italy and Israel are also participating in the program.
The Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) program was
created in 1993 as a result of a DoD Bottom-Up-Review.
The major tactical aviation results of the review were to
continue the ongoing F-22 and F/A-18E/F programs, cancel
the Multi-Role Fighter (MRF) and the A/F-X programs,
curtail F-16 and F/A-18C/D procurement and initiate the
The JAST program office was established on January 27,
1994. It was established to define and develop aircraft,
weapon, and sensor technology that would support the
future development of tactical aircraft. The final goal
was a common family of aircraft to replace several aging
US and UK aircraft of which the JSF is one such example.
The JSF is a multi-role attack and fighter aircraft
designed to replace the ageing F-16 Fighting Falcon,
F/A-18 Hornet, A-10 Thunderbolt II, F-111 Raven, Sea
Harrier and Harrier GR7 jets. It will complement the
USAF's high-end F/A-22 Raptor air superiority fighter and
the U.S. Navy's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
Design goals for the JSF include:
Sensor integration to support precision ammunition
Low cost to provide adequate force structure for the
Low maintenance cost once deployed
The planes are being constructed in three different
variants to suit the needs of various users -- 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.
So far, as of late 2002, the program has stayed
surprisingly close to its target cost of $28m for the
cheapest Air Force variant. If the JSF eventually meets
its cost targets, it will be the first U.S. military
aircraft since World War II to do so.
The construction contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin
(after Boeing's X-32 lost the bid) in October 2001, and
the planes are expected to enter service in 2008.
Critics of the program maintain that the JSF suffers from
ill-defined design goals; that it has insufficient
internal fuel and weapon capacity to make a capable
replacement for dedicated bombing aircraft; that its
inability to supercruise limits it as an air defence
platform, and that it is almost certain to suffer lengthy
development delays and cost over-runs -- meaning that
interim types will have to be purchased to fill the gap
between the end of useful life of existing fleets and the
introduction of the JSF. Several nations, however,
already have sufficient confidence in the design to have
committed substantial sums to become minority partners in
the JSF manufacturing team.
The program's advocates see the JSF as an opportunity to
break out of the decades-old pattern of U.S. military
aircraft procurement: instead of a traditional
per-service design approach, the JSF is being developed
jointly by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. This
allows an estimated 80% commonality between the JSF
variants for the different services, lowering aircraft
and service costs. This follows to a degree the
philosophy behind the SEPECAT Jaguar and Panavia Tornado
international development programs, the latter being
called a multi-role combat aircraft (or MRCA) prior to
service entry. Additionally, JSF is the first U.S.
aircraft program to consider cost as independent variable
(CAIV). In earlier programs, the aircraft cost has been a
dependent variable -- additional features have always
increased the aircraft cost. Such design changes aren't
being allowed during the JSF development.
F-35A: conventional land-based version for USAF
F-35B: STOVL for USMC, RAF and RN
F-35C: carrier-based version for USN
Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan rated at 15,876
kgf maximum thrust; military thrust classified,
possibly about 12,000 kgf
about 15 km.
Loading: F-35A: 446 kg/m? at
ratio: F-35A: 0.83 at 19,000 kg
- Cost: planned costs, in
millions of 1994USD: F-35A: 28, F-35B:
35, F-35C: 38
- First flight: 2000
- In service date: expected to
- Users: USA (USAF, USN, USMC);
UK (RAF, RN); others
Text is available under
the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License