"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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