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F-35C Lightning II

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The F-35C Lighting II is the U.S. Navy version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a carrier-capable, conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft that will be catapulted from the deck of an aircraft carrier, and land with the usual naval tailhook and arresting wire system. For those of us who have trouble remembering which F-35 version is for which service, remember the C suffix. In some literature, C is written as "CV", the Navy designation force.[1] It will replace the earlier, not "super" F-18 A/B/C/D Hornet multirole fighters.

To optimize it for carrier operations, the wings and tail surfaces are larger than in the Air Force version, which give better low-speed landing performance; the airframe also is stronger to take the stress of catapulting and arrested launch. It has a Navy-style air refueling probe. [2]

Avionics

Since this aircraft emphasizes attack, it will be built around the nose-mounted electro-optical targeting system (EOTS). This replaces the current LANTIRN pod built around an AN/AAQ-13 navigation pod and AN/AAQ-14 targeting pod, AN/AAQ-28 LITENING, and Sniper XR ground targeting systems, but also can provide helmet-based cueing for air-to-air missiles. Having the EOTS not be pod-mounted offers several advantages:

  • External pods defeat stealth
  • If external stores are carried, the pods take up places where weapons could be attached
  • There are no parallax problems when EOTS is on the same axis as the radar

The F-35 radar will be the AESA AN/APG-81, which has significant commonality with the AN/APG-77 of the F-22 Raptor. Currently unique to the F-35C is the AN/AAS-37 distributed aperture sensor, which puts an electro-optical camera on each of the six axes of the aircraft, allowing the pilot to see in all directions on the "glass cockpit" display.

General information

  • Carrier based, stealthy, multi-role, next-generation strike fighter [3]
  • Power Plant: Pratt & Whitney - F-135 or GE/Rolls-Royce GET F-136
  • Mission Radius:
    • Requirement - 600 nm USN
    • Projected -650 nm
  • Top Speed: Supersonic
  • Crew: Pilot
  • Weapons Payload: 18,000 lbs
    • Internal Weapons (all weapons must be internal for the aircraft to be stealthy):
    • External Weapons:
      • Variety, ~13,000 lbs
      • Six underwing hardpoints
      • Four air-to-ground and/or air-to-air missiles
      • Two Infrared missiles
    • Cannon: 25mm missionized pod
  • Maiden Flight: 2009[2]
  • Production: 340
  • Unitary Cost: USD$50 million

References

  1. Remember the "A" suffix as "air force", and the "B" is for everyone else who needs STOVL capability
  2. 2.0 2.1 "F-35C Lightning II", Deagel.com
  3. F-35C Lightning II (CV)