LOCKHEED MARTIN F35 LIGHTNING II
It is a fifth-generation stealth aircraft capable of supersonic speeds in excess of 1,000mph.
The plane has three variants, A, B and C. A has a conventional Pratt & Whitney engine, B (the one currently at Marham) has an additional Rolls Royce fan for short take-offs and vertical landings and C is a model designed for use on aircraft carriers.
The F35 has a hugely powerful ‘data fusion’ system which gathers a mass of data around the plane and filters and distils it for the pilot, allowing him or her to concentrate on the mission. “The pilot sees a beautiful God’s eye view of what’s going on. It’s a stunning amount of information,” says General Mike Hostage, Commander, Air Combat Command, U.S. Air Force
The cockpit layout is almost devoid of dials and switches, using a giant iPad-type screen to display information. The pilot can also see information projected on to the inside of the helmet visor and, thanks to cameras around the plane, can ‘see through’ the F35 whatever direction they look in.
It carries a range of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles and guided bombs inside the wings but can also carry weapons and fuel tanks externally. It also has a huge armoury of electronic warfare which can be deployed.
Spares are held by all partner nations and shared ‘on demand’, removing the need for huge stocks of parts in local warehouses.
Data about the aircraft is also shared by partners.
It is only available in grey (think Farrow & Ball Mole’s Breath or Down Pipe).