The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an American family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft that are intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions. The F-35 is also able to provide electronic warfare, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. Lockheed Martin is the prime F-35 contractor, with principal partners Northrop Grumman and BAe Systems. The aircraft has three main variants: the conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35A, the short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) F-35B, and the carrier-based (CV/CATOBAR) F-35C.
The aircraft is a descendant of the Lockheed Martin X-35, which in 2001 beat the Boeing X-32 to win the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. Its development was principally funded by the United States, with additional funding from program partner countries from NATO and close US allies, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Italy, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and formerly Turkey. Several other countries have ordered or are considering ordering the aircraft. The F-35 first flew in 2006 and entered service with the US Marine Corps F-35B in July 2015, followed by the US Air Force F-35A in August 2016 and the U. Navy F-35C in February 2019, and the aircraft was first used in combat in 2018 by the Israeli Air Force. The aircraft is slated to be a cornerstone of NATO and US allied air power and is expected to operate until 2070.
The F-35 is a heavy hitter and can shed its stealth capability by carrying external ammunition in what’s referred to as ‘Beast Mode’. This means the F-35 is completely maxed out with munitions. The F-35’s APG-81 is designed to operate as a radar, electronics support measures (ESM) receiver, and jammer. It includes active and passive air-to-air (A/A) and air-to-surface (A/S) target detection, track, and identification capabilities. In addition, it allows many of these to be interleaved, providing both A/A and A/S functionality. The F-35 was designed to replace the ageing fighter inventories including US Air Force F-16s and A-10s, US Navy F/A-18s, and Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers and F/A-18s, and UKs now retired Harrier GR.9s and Sea Harriers. With stealth and a host of next-generation technologies, the F-35 is far and away the world’s most advanced multi-role fighter. As the series title ‘Real to Replica’ suggests, the book also contains colour profiles, walk arounds, and how to build plastic models of the F-35 in popular scales, making this an ideal reference for the enthusiast and modeller alike.
This revised and updated edition was published in November 2023 to brign the latest developments of this exciting aircraft into the 'Real to Relica - Blue Series' range of books from Phoenix Scale Publications.