‘‘We’re pleased with the CDR results, which reinforce our confidence in the F-35C’s design,” said Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program manager. ‘‘The review highlighted the program’s development progress and the 5th generation capabilities that the carrier variant will bring to the Navy.”
‘‘Completion of this design review is very significant milestone – the die is now fully cast for the unique, three-variant Joint Strike Fighter program envisioned when the planning began in the late 1990s,” said JSF Program Executive Officer Brig. Gen. C.R. Davis. ‘‘This is a momentous day never seen in another other acquisition program in history. The entire team should be proud of the work that got us here today.”
Terry Harrell, Lockheed Martin director of F-35 carrier variant development, added, ‘‘We met our objectives for detailed design and performance while removing more than 200 pounds from the aircraft in the past seven months – a significant accomplishment. Getting the design ready for this important milestone required tremendous teamwork among NAVAIR, the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office, the Air Force Materiel Command’s Aeronautical Systems Center and the entire JSF contractor team.”
The F-35C will be the Navy’s first stealth aircraft. It is designed to replace the F⁄A-18 Hornet and complement the newer F⁄A-18E⁄F Super Hornet. Though it shares its fundamental design with the F-35A (conventional takeoff and landing) and F-35B (short takeoff⁄vertical landing), the F-35C is specialized for the catapult launches and arrested recoveries on large aircraft carriers. It features 30 percent more wing area than the other two variants, larger tails and control surfaces, and wingtip ailerons – all contributing to the precise slow-speed handling characteristics required for carrier approaches. The F-35C’s internal structure is strengthened to withstand the punishment of repeated catapult launches and arrested recoveries on the carrier deck.
Funding for the first two production-model Lightning IIs – both conventional takeoff and landing versions – is approved and fabrication for those aircraft has begun. The pair of F-35A aircraft are the first of 1,763 scheduled for delivery to the U.S. Air Force, beginning in 2010. The U.S. Marine Corps and Navy together are planning to operate 680 F-35Bs and F-35Cs, and the United Kingdom plans to place 138 F-35Bs into service with the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. The remaining F-35 participant countries plan to acquire more than 700 aircraft.
The F-35 is a supersonic, multi-role, 5th generation stealth fighter designed to replace a wide range of existing aircraft, including AV-8B Harriers, A-10s, F-16s, F⁄A-18 Hornets and United Kingdom Harrier GR.7s and Sea Harriers.
Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 Lightning II with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. Two separate, interchangeable F-35 engines are under development: the Pratt & Whitney F135 and the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team F136.