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Abbreviations


Royal Navy - Naval Aviation - Joint Strike Fighter - Lightning 11- F-35B† n5a8 - Armed Forces

NAVAL AVIATION

JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER


The UK version of the JSF, the F35B, will be a stealthy, multi-role, all-weather, day and night, fighter/attack air system, designed to operate as a STOVL aircraft from land bases and from the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. Once in service we would expect the F35B to be capable of undertaking air interdiction operations, making low or medium level attacks using precision-guided, freefall or retarded bombs. Close air support missions against targets in the forward edge of the battle area and fleet air defence patrols in the area of vessels that require protection from enemy air attack.

In May 2012 the UK MoD announced its decision to deliver its carrier strike capability using the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the US Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) as opposed to the Carrier Variant (CV) of the JSF. This decision was made in light of revelations that the CV aircraft would delay the introduction into service by up to three years, and that fitting catapults and arrestor gear could cost up to £2 billion more than originally planned.

First operational aircraft are due to arrive in 2016 and first STOVL aircraft flight trials should commence off HMS Queen Elizabeth during 2018.

The UK version of the JSF, the F35B, will be a stealthy, multi-role, all-weather, day and night, fighter/attack air system, designed to operate as a STOVL aircraft from land bases and from the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. Once in service we would expect the F35B to be capable of undertaking air interdiction operations, making low or medium level attacks using precision-guided, freefall or retarded bombs. Close air support missions against targets in the forward edge of the battle area and fleet air defence patrols in the area of vessels that require protection from enemy air attack.

An announcement in July 2012 confirmed that the UK would initially order 48 aircraft and later reports suggested that the overall cost of the programme is forecast at being in the region of £2.5 billion. The aircraft should remain in service until 2040.

Although the US Company Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor, the UK is a Level 1 partner with the US and a number of British companies, including BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce are involved in building and developing the aircraft.

The F35B will be based at RAF Marham in Norfolk and by 2018 the only offensive aircraft in the UK inventory should be the F-35B and the Typhoon. The aircraft will be operated by both RAF and Fleet Air Arm personnel.

The US Marine Corps intends to buy 340 F-35Bs and the Italian Navy 22.

†Specifications

Crew

1

Length

15.6m

Span 10.67m
Maximum Altitude 50,000ft
Weight Loaded 22,400kg

Max Take-off weight

31,800kg

Maximum Speed

Mach 1.6 (1,200 mph/1,900 kmh)

Range 2,200 km
Combat Radius 1,080kms on internal fuel
Armament Gun - 1 x GAU-22/A Equalizer 25mm cannon with 180 rounds
Missiles Paveway IV, AMRAAM, ASRAAM, Brimstone and Storm Shadow