The Joint Strike Fighter has had a rather tumultuous journey from the start. It was an undertaking by the United States, The United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Canada, Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, Israel, and Japan to make a stealthy aircraft that could perform a series of events to replace aging land and carrier based aircraft.
The counties all had certain requirements that they needed the planes to have. The requirement is for: USAF F-35A air-to-ground strike aircraft, replacing F-16 and A-10, complementing F-22 (1763); USMC F-35B – STOVL strike fighter to replace F/A-18B/C and AV-8B (480); UK RN F-35C – STOVL strike fighter to replace Sea Harriers (60); US Navy F-35C – first-day-of-war strike fighter to replace F/A-18B/C and A-6, complementing the F/A-18E/F (480 aircraft). So 3 variants were designed. The F-35A, F-35B, and the F-35C. A is designed to take off of an airstrip, B is a STOVL aircraft, and C is designed for Carrier takeoffs and landings.
The most interesting of the 3 is the STOVL variant, the F-35B. STOVL (short take off and vertical landing) planes have been around for a little while. the most famous being the AV-8B Harrier Jump Jet. The Harrier had a technology called thrust vectoring nozzles which were basically 4 nozzles that could swivel to produce thrust in any direction. The F-35B has a central compartment that changes and twist the engine producing massive amounts of down-thrust. The plus side of this is that because the engine used on the B varient is exactly the same as the A and C variants, it can still go supersonic! This is huge since it will be used in an air superiority role as well as an attack aircraft for the United Staes Marine Corps.
Still in testing, the first F-35 that has been designated AN-1 will head to the flight line where it will undergo functional fuel system checks before being transported to the flight line for ground and flight tests in the coming weeks. This F-35A is heading to the Netherlands as they are one of the partners in the JSF program.
Also in F-35 news, recently it had it's very first successful in flight refueling at night. Check out the video below: