Well, we are back with some more innovative features of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. This time the features will explain the aircraft’s stealth ability as well as its radar functions and its future in innovation plans.
So without any further wait, we present to you the innovative features of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II (part 2).
Superior Stealth Innovations:-
When talking about the F-35 Lightning II, it is hard to skip the part about its stealth capabilities. The primary design feature of the F-35 Lightning II was to provide it with a design that allows it to evade the radar detection. Whether it is the entire size of the aircraft or its sawtooth landing gear; the F-35 Lightning II has a minimal radar cross section that allows it to easily invade the enemy’s air space without getting detected.
While the radar-evading details of the F-35 Lightning II are classified military information, it is speculated that the F-35 Lightning II has been built with materials that are radar absorbent and these materials are much better than any other aircraft. The radar cross section of these materials is as little as a golf ball.
EOTS (Electro-Optical Targeting System):-
The F-35 Lighting II is equipped with the EOTS (Electro-Optical Targeting System) making it able to not only find but also mark a target with precision and accuracy whether it is in the air or on the ground. The F-35 Lighting II has the world’s only following infrared functionalities that make it one of the deadliest aerial attack forces in the world.
- Forward-looking Infrared
- Infrared search & track
With these functions, the pilot of the F-35 Lighting II gains a greater situational awareness of the battlefield even before they reach their destination. The pilot is able to then easily recognize the enemy targets and threats and engage in the attack missions with increased lethality.
ALIS (Autonomic Logistics Information System):-
Lockheed Martin to reduce the maintenance cost and to increase the flight time of the F-35 Lightning II, equipped it with Autonomic Logistics Information System or also simply known as ALIS. This is a fleet-wide system that allows the pilot and the ground crew about all the information regarding the condition of the aircraft.
With ALIS, following aspects of the F-35 Lightning II program are supported.
The ALIS is integrated over all of the F-35 bases that streamline thousands of tasks to make it the most advanced system in the world.
Another amazing innovation in the F-35 Lightning II is its radar technology as it is equipped with AN/APG-81 radar system. This radar system is the result of the efforts by the Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems to be electronically active scanning array radar that gives the pilot the ability to engage with both aerial and ground targets from an increased range than any other aircraft.
The radar system also provides the pilot with an increased situational awareness for the following scenarios.
- Night operations
- Missile warnings
This radar system, which is an improvement of the AN/APG-77, not only provides the aircraft with a high-res mapping for the moving targets but also provide it with superior electronic warfare abilities. This radar system has proven to be so exceptional in its capabilities that in the coming two decades, Northrop Grumman is expected to deliver both the US military and its Allied Nations with nearly 3000 of these radars.
CAS (Close Air Support):-
For decades the best fighter jet of the US military for close air support has been the A-10 Thunderbolt I which wreaks havoc with its GAU-8 Gatling gun that can carry 1200 rounds. As for the F-35 Lightning II it is equipped with a GAU-22/A Gatling gun. Critics have been debating that A-10 is far superior in CAS compared tot eh F-35 Lightning II. However, despite having smaller and lesser rounds than A-10, F-35 is equipped with laser-guided fragmentation rockets to provide better CAS.
With the help of F-35’s latest avionics, the aircraft is able to pinpoint the enemy targets for precision attack. With its single shot, the F-35 Lightning II is able to pierce the enemy forces with a Thousand –round burst.
New Weapons System:-
Lockheed Martin has plans to remove the F-35 Lightning II from its burning missiles very soon, sometime in the next decade. Along with DARPA, Lockheed Martin’s receives millions of dollars in research for the solid-state and fiber laser technology from the Department of Defense (DoD).
Laser systems which are going to be an integral part of the aircraft in the future are expected to be lighter as well as less expensive than today’s weapons. Once these heavy weapon systems are removed, it will give the aircraft much longer range. In addition to this, once the laser weapons lock on to a target, it won’t let the target go until it is completely burned through.
Internationally Acclaimed Fighter:-
While the US has been sharing its wide range of the military weapon to its allied nations over the years, the list for the buyers of F-35 Lightning II is quite a lengthy one.
As of 2019, countries which have already placed orders for the F-35 Lightning II are as follows.
The F-35 Lightning II is equipped with a single Pratt & Whitney F135 engine that has been specifically designed for this aircraft. With its thrust of 40000 lbs, the aircraft can fly for a rage of 120 miles with a speed of Mach 1.2 without its afterburner. The innovative feature of this engine is that it combines its ability of stealth with its afterburner ability making it one of the only 2 engines in the entire world.
The F-35B Lightning II which is capable of performing STOVL, it has the very same engine but also has a Lift System making it able to hover making it one of a kind in the world.