LOCK­HEED MARTIN F35 LIGHT­NING II

EDP Norfolk - - RAF MARHAM -

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).

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