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article imageLockheed Martin Unveils Joint Strike Fighter

By Paul Bright     Dec 19, 2007 in Technology
Lockheed Martin has a history of developing advanced weapons systems for the United States military as well as other nations. This latest weapons system can combine stealth technology, vertical take off and supersonic speed.
Lockheed Martin, longtime defense contractor and plane builder, unveiled the first short vertical take-off and landing (STOVL) stealth jet fighter today at its Fort Worth, Texas plant. Lockheed Martin showed this version, known as the F-35B Lightning II, to prospective buyers such as the United States Air Force, United States Marine Corps, the United Kingdom's Royal Navy and Air Force, and the Italian Air Force and Navy.
The F-35B was designed to replace F-18s and AV-8Bs in the Marine Corps and Navy. For the United Kingdom, the F-35B would replace the GR7 and the Sea Harrier. The plan was for it to combine the elements of both aircraft into one versatile plane. Dan Crowley, F-35B program manager for Lockheed Martin, described the plane as such.
"Think F/A-18 speed and maneuverability, AV-8B forward deployment, F-22 stealth, and astonishing avionics...It's a combination of technologies that may seem like science fiction, but our abundantly-talented international team has made it science fact."
The STOVL propulsion system allows the F-35B to leave the ground with virtually no runway and land in the same style, alleviating the need to build and use up valuable runway space. Also, using minimal space to get into the air can allow for more aircraft to be stored in one location. Having STOVL technology also allows the plane to hover, take off in a few hundred feet with a full load or straight up with a light load. The aircraft's design is also Transformer-like with its ability from jet-borne aircraft to wing-borne aircraft that flies at supersonic speed. All of these functions happen automatically.
"The flexibility that the STOVL variant of the F-35 will add to the contemporary Marine Air Ground Task Force is amazing," said Marine Corps Commandant General James Conway." This generational leap in technology will enable us to operate a fleet of fighter/attack aircraft from the decks of ships, existing runways or from unimproved surfaces at austere bases. We find that capability extremely valuable."
Interchangeable engines are also under development for the Lightning II. For the first series of planes, Pratt & Whitney's F135 engines will be used. Rolls-Royce's F136 engines can serve as a direct replacement.
Six F-35s are in production with a hope of the first delivery to the Marine Corps in 2011. The first operational flight will take place in 2009.
Lockheed Martin is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland. They employ 140,000 people worldwide in research, design and development of advanced technology systems.
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