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"Sorry Goose, but it's time to buzz the tower"

Some images have shown up on flickr of the first production Lockheed Martin F-35 to come off the line. The X-35 (now designated F-35) was the winner of the US Defense Department's Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program – Boeing's X-32 prototype came up a bit short.

The F-35 is a multi-role airframe designed to replace the AV-8B Harrier, A-10 Thunderbolt II, F/A-18 Hornet and F-16 Fighting Falcon/Viper. The F-35 will be available in three variants:

  • F-35A: Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL)
  • F-35B: Short Take-Off Vertical Landing (STOVL)
  • F-35C: Carrier Based Variant (CV)

The F-35A will be the lightest of the bunch as it is the most conventional design. It will take off and land like a typical modern day fighter (i.e. F-22 Raptor). The F-35B will be the most complex design as it will have an exhaust nozzle that can rotate down 90 degrees and can be used in conjunction with a lift fan located behind the cockpit to accomplish short take-offs and landings. The F-35C variant is destined to naval service and will feature larger wings and control surfaces along with a beefed up undercarriage to handle carrier duties.

You can read more about the F-35 and the Joint Strike Fighter program here.

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By Brassbud on 2/22/2006 1:46:20 AM , Rating: 2
The F(X)-35 and Superhornet
-Replacing the US Navy's jets with inferior airframes since 2006

RE: Motto
By bunnyfubbles on 2/22/2006 1:49:42 AM , Rating: 2
Do I smell a Boeing fan?

RE: Motto
By Cygni on 2/22/2006 1:54:42 AM , Rating: 2
The F-14 was made by Grumman, and thats gotta be what hes referencing.

RE: Motto
By JBird7986 on 2/22/2006 8:58:24 AM , Rating: 2
Granted, I'd take an F-14 over an F/A-18E/F any day of the week, but I'd hardly call either the Super Hornet or the F-35 "inferior." Either one of those planes could certainly put the hurt on an older F/A-18, though probably not the Tomcat.

RE: Motto
By Oderus on 2/22/2006 9:33:54 AM , Rating: 2
You'd take an F14 over a F18? I hope you don't plan on dog fighting. =P

RE: Motto
By Plasmoid on 2/22/2006 12:23:27 PM , Rating: 2
The F-14 is a great plane but its ludicrously expensive and difficult to maintain.

The Cold war is over... and those kind of planes just arent needed these days.

Granted, by that logic we really dont need the F-35 either but it is a lot more versatile and cheaper while not sacrificing capability.

RE: Motto
By Sunbird on 2/22/2006 12:46:03 PM , Rating: 2
He doesn't need to dogfight, he can just take you out at 114.3 miles with his AIM-54 Phoenix :P

I feel the need...

RE: Motto
By bunnyfubbles on 2/22/2006 5:17:21 PM , Rating: 2
yeah, 1 on 1, what happens when you run out of missiles against superior numbers? Fuxored are we now?

Granted the F-35 is a multi purpose fighter, designed to fill several roles. More specialized fighters such as the F-22A will always be better 1 on 1, but overall the F-35 is an incredible platform for what all it can do.

RE: Motto
By timmiser on 2/22/2006 7:40:06 PM , Rating: 2
Simple. I'll just put on the brakes and he'll fly right by.

RE: Motto
By timmiser on 2/22/2006 7:42:48 PM , Rating: 2
Amen to that! Many people don't realize that when they retired the F-14 they also retired the greatest stand off air to air missile ever produced since the F-14 was the only fighter capable of handling that big boy.

Most of the stats and capabilities of the Pheonix are still classified to this day.

RE: Motto
By ElFenix on 2/22/2006 12:34:03 PM , Rating: 2
can an F14 even get radar lock on an F35 at any range that makes the phoenix useful? close in my money is on the F35. of course, the tomcat is faster.

RE: Motto
By timmiser on 2/22/2006 7:46:56 PM , Rating: 2
He was referring to the F-14 vs. F-18. The Phoenix would be useless against a stealth opponent like the F-35.

RE: Motto
By Milliamp on 2/22/2006 1:55:44 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know about the AF version, but the site said this of the B (vertical landing and takeof) version the marines will get.

"The STOVL variant, designed to replace the AV-8B Harrier, has more than twice the range on internal fuel, operates at supersonic conditions, and houses internal weapons."

RE: Motto
By jskirwin on 2/22/2006 9:39:45 AM , Rating: 2
What is the Corps' fascination with VTOL? First the Harrier, than the Osprey... It seems to me that when you combine helicopters with airplanes you get the worst of both.
If you want close air-support, it would seem to me that nothing beat the A-10. Why not come up with a modern variant of the old Warthog? Something that could take out armor, cruise at low speed and be nearly indestructible.

RE: Motto
By Chuckles on 2/22/2006 10:40:27 AM , Rating: 2
The reason the Marines like the VTOL concept is the fact that you dramatically reduce the amount of runway you need. When you have to build a runway out of pierced plank or worse, cutting down the amount of runway means you can set up a base faster, as well reduce the probability of damage due to unimproved runway conditions.
This also makes sense given that the Marine Corps also operates in the ship-to-shore environment. Ships don't have space for 4000 ft of runway or 57 ft of wingspan.

RE: Motto
By brshoemak on 2/22/2006 11:08:50 AM , Rating: 2
If you want close air-support, it would seem to me that nothing beat the A-10. Why not come up with a modern variant of the old Warthog? Something that could take out armor, cruise at low speed and be nearly indestructible.

i was wondering that as well. haven't looked for cost per plane but i'm sure there is a marked difference. the A-10's are designed to fly with one wing gone and on a single engine. Not to mention the plane is built AROUND it's main gun and can take more shots than Tara Reid on a Saturday night in Cancun without flinching. If the F-35 can really be the catch-all aircraft all the better, if not....well at least everyone we'll be fighting will be in wide open spaces like Afghanistan and other densely mountainous areas so great close air-support won't be a biggie.

i'd take one though :)

RE: Motto
By Plasmoid on 2/22/2006 12:27:08 PM , Rating: 2
Nothing can replace the A-10 but then there turned out to be not much need for the A-10.

There was never a World War 3 battle of tanks that let the A-10 come into its own. Now the marines just need planes to bomb buildings in urban enviorments and scout out the the terrain. (or at least thats what they seem to think)

RE: Motto
By NullSubroutine on 2/22/2006 3:39:30 PM , Rating: 2
I agree they should just simply redesign the A-10 for more advanced features, but at the same time keep their original reducncies.

However, the problem is that the Defense contractors keep imaging a high tech battle field where rich governments square off agaisnt other rich governments, which is where this 'superiority' is supposed to be had.

It will NEVER be superior to the A-10 for as long as there are countries this millitary fights that are far below our technological innovations.

It is like on Stargate SG-1 (if you dont mind the geekiness of the anology) when the human race saved the highly advanced ancient Asguards from the replicators by simple 'projectile' weapons.

Ultimate superior technology can beat always beat superior technology, but it ultimate superior technology will always be able to be beaten by the loweliest form.

All hail the A-10.

RE: Motto
By Jedi2155 on 2/22/2006 4:31:46 PM , Rating: 2
Hear hear!!!!

RE: Motto
By Sunrise089 on 2/22/2006 5:25:18 AM , Rating: 2
Um...the Tomcat was great and all, but I think if the Navy first replaced it with an F/A18 varient (E?) and then replaced that with the JSF, maybe it's 1970s technology wasn't exactly up to par.

RE: Motto
By skyyspam on 2/22/2006 11:43:38 AM , Rating: 2
The tomcat has been obsolete for decades now. It can't even carry AMRAAMs. It's huge, expensive to operate, breaks down a lot, and has a radar cross section like a freight train.

RE: Motto
By Jedi2155 on 2/22/2006 4:32:53 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't it bigger than a freight train?

Just a couple of comments
By stupid on 2/22/2006 11:06:20 AM , Rating: 2
I believe for the longest time the Navy has always favored twin engine jets over single engine jets for redunancy sake. Unless I'm mistaken the Navy's F-35 will only have 1 engine.

In reply to previous post about why the Marines prefer the Harrier and Osprey, it's all about close ground support for their troops anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, airstrips are not alway conveniently located in war zones, like a jungle. VTOL comes in very handy when there is no time or resources to create a clean and long landing strip for conventional aircrafts.

VTOL also comes in very handy if a cluster bomb has been released over an landing strip. Small potholes covering the landing strip can effectively ground the conventional jet fighter, while a VTOL can get off the ground with no problems.

The only real shortcoming with a VTOL aircraft during war time operations is that if it must take-off vertically, then it's armament load has to be reduced so that it can get off the ground. A VTOL aircraft, like the Harrier, can only take-off with it's maximum load if it gets into the air like a conventional aircraft.

Reguarding the question of AMRAAMs being able to take out cruise missile, the answer is yes. Such a system has been in development and I believe it is in the testing stage at the moment. Sorry, I do not know what the system is called, but it will replace the current MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons System as the final defense against cruise missile attacks. The Phalanx system is very short range and is considered a point defense system. With a missile defense system the engagement range is much further.

Oh, I forgot about the point made about the F-35 taking over the role of the A-10 Thunderbolt II. Basically, this is done for financial reasons. Why build a totally different airframe when you can adapt one that is currently being developed? Although the military would love to get their hands on more funding, it has to live the fact that they have a limited (though large) budget. Having money going to another project would take money away from the current projects. In the long run it should reduce maintaince costs as well because all these variants of the F-35 will share a significant number of common parts. How many parts does the F-14 and F-18 share? None perhaps. The downside of creating a multi-purpose airframe is that it will most likely be a "jack of all trades, master of none." They will perform competently enough in just about any role, but would likely be an underdog when it comes up against a fighter built for a specific role like air superiority.

RE: Just a couple of comments
By abhaxus on 2/22/2006 12:02:37 PM , Rating: 2
Keep in mind that the F-35 is NOT a VTOL aircraft, it's STOVL. It was never designed to take off vertically but rather to take off on very short runways.

I believe the marines are interested because they tend to deploy off smaller helicopter carriers. It's been a long time since I looked at what hardware the navy has though, so I'm relaying info I read near the onset of the JSF program.

RE: Just a couple of comments
By VERTIGGO on 2/22/2006 1:25:17 PM , Rating: 2
You're right. Our LHD's like the USS Essex that transport Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs) on readiness deployments are currently outfitted with harriers. Last fall we had about 8 or 10 on board from the air wing. They are particularly important in support of our ground patrols (from my perspective) because we can call them in for precision airstrikes if our teams are compromised, or when we designate targets. They don't usually take off vertically, because it burns insane amounts of fuel, but they can operate on short decks. (USS Essex is something like 600 - 800 ft.)

RE: Just a couple of comments
By VERTIGGO on 2/22/2006 1:27:31 PM , Rating: 2
You're right. Our LHD's like the USS Essex that transport Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs) on readiness deployments are currently outfitted with harriers. Last fall we had about 8 or 10 on board from the air wing. They are particularly important in support of our ground patrols (from my perspective) because we can call them in for precision airstrikes if our teams are compromised, or when we designate targets. They don't usually take off vertically, because it burns insane amounts of fuel, but they can operate on short decks. (USS Essex is 840 ft.)

By NullSubroutine on 2/22/2006 3:43:40 PM , Rating: 2
Funny, I have seen a video on A&E of the F-35 VTOL by use of its center cool air turbo fan.

By NullSubroutine on 2/22/2006 3:45:48 PM , Rating: 2
Actually their might be many verions with the center turbo fan, they have done flight testing similating dog fights and the fan was used to create super short turning and maneverus that would normally create stalls.

F-14 replacement
By Pete84 on 2/22/2006 2:43:21 AM , Rating: 3
Given that the Soviet long range bomber and cruise missile threat is no longer, the F-35 will be a good replacement. Load a few AMRAAMs on board and it would be able to take out plenty of cruise missiles. Given the in-shore / brown water theater that the navy is operating in mostly now, range wouldn't be such an issue, and you can problably get a few more F-35s on a carrier than F-14s.

RE: F-14 replacement
By Sunrise089 on 2/22/2006 5:24:09 AM , Rating: 3
Can an AMRAAM hit a cruise missle? I know navy Standard missles fired from AEGIS ships can target air to ship missles just fine, but a cruise missile is pretty hard to hit since it flies to low. Maybe AMRAAM is more capable than I thought, but i thought it was primarely an anti-aircraft weapon, thus the name.

RE: F-14 replacement
By Chriz on 2/22/2006 5:55:13 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, the F-18 Superhornet is the fighter that is replacing/has replaced the F-14 in the Navy, the F-35C is replacing the normal F-18 hornets (which perform worse than superhornets). The superhornet is supposed to be the less plentiful, more expensive but more advanced jet of the Navy, while the F-35 will be the more plentiful, cheaper but not as great of performance as the super hornet.

For the Air force, the F-22 replaced the F-15, and the F-35 will replace the F-16. F-22 being the more advanced state of the art jet (and more expensive).

RE: F-14 replacement
By Tmeyers on 2/22/2006 10:11:54 PM , Rating: 2
Nope. The F135 is based off of the F119 engine but way more advanced. And made of Titanium and not nickel.

Loiter Time
By bloodyspartan on 2/22/2006 11:30:35 PM , Rating: 2
As someone who actually built the warthog, I think it will be very hard to replace.

It is a low level aircraft> when you see those men fly it like a chopper you would be amazed.
How often will the F-35 pilot crash into a tree playing hide and seek.

This tank is capable of carrying 16000 lbs of ordanance.
I am not sure the latest gen will carry that much.
Plus I believe it can loiter in the area for several hours.

Ground support planes are very different from All purpose let alone Stealth or Fighter Aircraft.

The Air Force has been trying to kill this plane for 40 years let's hope they have not succceeded yet with out a better alternative

Oh byt the way the Cold War is not over

China is massing forces like the world has not seen since WWII and Russia is not our ally.

Selling our doom to Iran and Helping Syria.

Right, everyone should keep and open mind and learn more history.

Be well

RE: Loiter Time
By jskirwin on 2/23/2006 10:00:55 AM , Rating: 2
Why does the USAF hate the warthog? I've never understood what they have against that plane. I remember back in the Gulf War how they had been brought out of retirement because they were the only plane that could:
1. Handle the environment
2. Loiter for hours.
3. Provide close air support.
4. Obliterate targets

In my toolbox I have a Craftsman clawhammer. It's not very good at soldering electronics components together but nothing beats it for driving in nails.

So the plane is old and ugly. However everyone I've met (you included) who has worked with the A-10 loves it. You don't find that kind of sentiment with other aircraft.

RE: Loiter Time
By timmiser on 2/23/2006 4:09:04 PM , Rating: 2
The air force has never liked the A-10 because it doesn't fit their mission objective. The A-10 is designed completely to support ground troops. (Much like an attack helicopter). The A-10 is an airplane requring runways and service like other air force planes thus the air force owns it but once it's in the air, it works soley with the Army on the ground following orders from the ground (Army) commanders. The air force doesn't want it because it's really an Army plane. The Army would rather use attack helicopters because they have the complete control of those birds. The reality is that the aircraft is needed and serves a purpose that the F-16 and Apaches can't as was demonstrated in Desert Storm.


RE: Loiter Time
By Tmeyers on 2/24/2006 10:38:51 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. The Warthog is awesome. I can never watch them fly over head too much. They just fill a different role. They are awesome. Too bad they use GE engines though. GE should stick to dishwashers.

By Josh7289 on 2/22/2006 3:16:29 PM , Rating: 3
Yay! I've already flown these things many times...

By dueyduck on 2/22/2006 5:58:51 PM , Rating: 2
Not to burst anyone's bubble. But this plane is not yet ready. The plane doesn't hold any weapons, has no avionics equipment, and is extremely overweight. So I think that any other plane out there currently, can shoot down a plane that doesn't hold any weapons and can barely lift off.

By Tmeyers on 2/22/2006 9:59:10 PM , Rating: 2
Your wrong...its underweight.

No Eurofighter for us then
By probedb on 2/22/2006 8:24:32 AM , Rating: 2
Finally we might get something to replace the Tornado etc!

Just read the page on Lockheed's site and seems the UK is getting this too. About time, the Eurofighter must be about 15 years overdue now!

RE: No Eurofighter for us then
By DrAjax on 2/22/2006 9:25:28 AM , Rating: 2
I read it was replacing our Harriers for use on our new Carriers we should be getting.

RE: No Eurofighter for us then
By probedb on 2/22/2006 9:48:27 AM , Rating: 2
Cool! Maybe that's why they're selling Harriers off at £15000 :) Local news last night!

By Tmeyers on 2/22/2006 9:57:44 PM , Rating: 2
I have spent the last 10 years of my blood, sweet and tears into the engine on this baby and believe me...THIS IS THE WORLDS FASTEST CONVENTIONAL AIRCRAFT. The only thing that could possibly take this is the scram jet.
I am a project engineer working on bearings and LPT shafts for this baby. I cant telll you everything (thats classified) but just wait until the pilots strap into this thing. It blows the Superhornet away. During trials, the Hornet was full speed with afterburners on and this thing blew by it like it was standing still. We have actually had to govern the engine because the human body cant survive at full bore.
And with the new Honeywell avionics unit/headset this is the future of flight.

By the way - F22 will be the "commercial" version. Sold to Israel, Britian and Australia.

Top Gun
By pyrosity on 2/22/2006 11:06:41 PM , Rating: 2
That Top Gun quote made my Anandtech/Dailytech "day." I've watched that movie way too many times.

Thanks for reporting on this and on all other news, DT!

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