Information about the Joint Strike Fighter Project

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

F-35 Lightning II

Also known as:
Joint Strike Fighter

First Universal Fighter Jet for Air Force, Navy and Marines

Multinational program to develop a single conventional, carrier and VSTOL stealth aircraft

Models known:
F-35A (Air Force - conventional take-off/landing)
F-35B (Navy - carrier based)
F-35C (VSTOL version)

US Air Force, US Navy, US Marine Corps, UK Air Force, UK Navy, Italy, Turkey, Denmark, Holland, Canada, Australia, Norway
(Israel, Singapore)

Joint Strike Fighter is the most beautiful dream of any military.
The Joint Strike Fighter Project was meant to create the unbelievable: a jet aircraft that would fit everybody's needs. It would have to perform in a conventional manner for the Air Force, having enough range and combat capabilities. It would also have to withstand landing and being catapulted off an aircraft carrier. Last, but not least, the same design would also have to be capable of a short landing, as well as a vertical landing or take-off.
For years, the US Navy, US Marines and US Air Force were fighting for program funding from the US Congress. Each organization wanted more cash to develop its own fighter-bomber, for its own needs.
However, those needs have always been quite different, sometimes even opposite.

The Air Force wanted a fighter that would have a long range, would carry a high payload and would be fit for air-to-air combat. It would not care about the aircraft's size or weight, as long as the above-mentioned conditions are met.
The Navy on the other hand, has always preferred a twin-engine, twin-seater fighter, which would be as small as possible (a very important detail on a crowded carrier) and which would have to bare with daily steam catapult take-offs and harsh carrier landings.
The US Marines wanted a jet aircraft which could take-off or land vertically, or from very short runways, and provide close-air support for advancing troops at a very short notice.

The Air Force did not care about the aircraft's size or weight, as long as it did their job. The Navy on the other hand, would settle for less range and/or payload, as long as the jet was capable of operating from an aircraft carrier and would be as small as possible, while the Marines had their completely different requirement of a VSTOL (Very Short Take-Off or Landing) aircraft.

As it may obviously seem, building an aircraft to meet all three requirements would be truly impossible. As an addition to the difficulty of the project, a new requirement was added in the 1990s, together with more advanced enemy radars as well as new operational requirements: the Stealth capability.
This complicated the issue to a new level, as until then, Stealth aircraft have been slow, subsonic jets which did not have a self-defense capability or some of the most basic maneuvrability expected from a jet fighter (let's not forget that if the F-117 Nighthawk gets into a spin, it can not be recovered).

All in all, the requirements for the new Joint Strike Fighter project, initiated in 1996, were to build a sort of F-15 / F-18 / Harrier jet, which would be as invisible as the F-117 and would cost as much as an F-16.

It comes then at no wonder that the program was deemed impossible to achieve and was canceled almost as soon as it started, in the same year of 1996.
However, after countless debates at the Pentagon, the program was re-opened later that year, and it carried on for the next decade, to produce one of the true aviation wonders in history.

under constructionThe F-35 JSF Page is still under construction.