F-35: Why There’s Nothing Like Australia’s New Warplane

F-35: Why There’s Nothing Like Australia’s New Warplane

The initial squadron of America’s most expensive weapons system ever built is on track for “initial combat use” by August 2016. This is where they’re being built.

Fourteen years ago this month, Lockheed Martin won the contract to build America’s premier fifth generation stealth fighter jet. Australia has committed to buying up to 100 of the F-35A variant.

We toured Lockheed Martin’s massive production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, where the three F-35 Lightning II variant aircraft are designed and manufactured.

Here is a look at the unique capabilities of the F-35 variant aircraft.

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

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The F-35 is the Pentagon’s largest arms program, with an estimated price tag of $391 billion over the next five decades.

Source: Reuters

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

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The US Department of Defence expects a total fleet of 2,457 F-35s over the next five decades.

Source: Reuters

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

The lightest of the jets is the F-35A.

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Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

The F-35B is in the middle at 14.3 feet tall and weighs 32,300 pounds.

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Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

The F-35C is the tallest and the heaviest.

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Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

The F-35A and F-35B have the same wingspan and nearly the same length.

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Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Designed for the Navy, the F-35C features longer wings to create drag for the jet to slowly land on aircraft carriers.

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Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

The F-35C has another unique wing design.

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Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

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‘During a normal F-35C launch, the jet goes from zero to 150 miles per hour, travelling the 310-foot length of the catapult in about two seconds,’ according to Lockheed Martin.

Source: Lockheed Martin

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Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

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According to Navy officials, the at-sea developmental testing of the F-35C is almost done.

Source: Reuters

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Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

The F-35A is the only variant that has an internal gun; aside from that, the jets have similar designs.

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Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

All three variants are coated with a special material to avoid radar.

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Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

And obviously, the F-35 jets have some serious firepower.

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Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

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Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

The F-35C carries 19,750 pounds of fuel, the most fuel of the variant aircraft. All jets have the capability to be refueled in air.

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Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

However, the F-35A is refueled differently.

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Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

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9 nations have already placed orders for America’s premier fighter jet.

Source: Reuters

Originally published on Business Insider Australia