F-35B: The Incredible Fighter Jet the U.S. Marines Love

F-35B Joint Strike Fighter Marines
February 15, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: F-35F-35BF-35 Joint Strike FighterU.S. Military

F-35B: The Incredible Fighter Jet the U.S. Marines Love

The Marine Corps F-35B variant may be the most complex. However, all three Lightning II types are equally formidable and will remain critical to America’s aerial prowess for decades.

 

F-35B Lightning II fighter - The American-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has become arguably the most coveted fighter jet across the globe.

The fifth-generation platform possesses unparalleled stealth, allowing it to evade enemy detection and enter contested airspace.

 

Additionally, an internal weapons storage way, embedded sensors and cutting-edge technologies and avionics make the F-35 a truly unique platform. While China and Russia have developed their Chengdu J-20 and Sukhoi Su-57 fifth-generation near-peers, experts largely agree that the Lightning II is superior.

The history of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

Derived from the Joint Strike Fighter program, the F-35 was the product of the revered Skunk Works team which was tasked with developing an Advanced Short Take-Off/Vertical Landing (ASTOVL) for both the Marine Corps and Air Force.

By the mid-1990s, all the big names in manufacturing- including Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Boeing- submitted design proposals to fit the bill.

Ultimately, the Joint Strike Fighter was designated to replace an array of multi-role platforms flown by the U.S. and its allies, including the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-18 Hornet, A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-117 Nighthawk.

The United Kingdom became the first foreign state to join the JSF program, followed by Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Canada and Australia. Turkey was also a participant of the program; however, the country had its JSF privileges revoked after refusing U.S. demands to not acquire the Russian-made S-400 air-defense system for security reasons.

Powered by the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine, the JSF has a top speed of Mach-1.6 (times the speed of sound). Additionally, the platform features an advanced sensor fusion which creates a single integrated image of the battlefield that enhances the situational awareness of the pilot. The platform’s low observable stealth enables it to fly undetected by enemy aircraft, an ability that fourth-generation jets do not possess. Its stealth, combined with its active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and internal weapons bay makes the F-35 a powerhouse in the skies.

Introducing the F-35B

Three JSF variants have been developed for the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy- the F-35A, F-35B and F-35C respectively. The Marine Corps’ variant notably became the first supersonic, radar-evading stealth fighter in history to possess short take-off/vertical landing capabilities when it entered service.

The F-35B is designed to operate from austere bases and an array of air-capable ships while it can also takeoff and land from longer runways and conventional bases.

F-35B

As detailed by the platform’s manufacturer Lockheed Martin, “STOVL operation is made possible through the patented shaft-driven LiftFan propulsion system. This propulsion approach overcomes many of the temperature, velocity and power challenges of direct-lift systems.”

F-35B

The platform’s STOVL capability makes the F-35B variant the most mechanically complex version of the Lightning II in service. Due to its lifting fan position, the F-35B has less internal storage capacity than its counterparts.

The Marine Corps’ F-35B variant may be the most complex, however, all three Lightning II types are equally formidable and will undoubtedly remain a critical component of America’s aerial prowess for decades to come.

About the Author 

Maya Carlin, National Security Writer with The National Interest, is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel. You can follow her on Twitter: @MayaCarlin

Image Credit: Shutterstock.