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Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II facts for kids

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F-35 Lightning II
F-35A off the coast of Northwest Florida
A U.S. Air Force F-35A
Role Stealth multirole fighter
National origin United States
Manufacturer Lockheed Martin
First flight 15 December 2006; 14 years ago (2006-12-15) (F-35A)
Introduction F-35B: 31 July 2015 (USMC)
F-35A: 2 August 2016 (USAF)
F-35C: 28 February 2019 (USN)
Status In service
Primary users United States Air Force
United States Marine Corps
United States Navy
Royal Air Force
See Operators section for others
Produced 2006–present
Number built 625+ as of April 1, 2021
Developed from Lockheed Martin X-35

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an American family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft that is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions. It is also able to provide electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.

Lockheed Martin is the prime F-35 contractor, with principal partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.

The aircraft has three main variants: the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35A, the short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) F-35B, and the carrier-based (CV/CATOBAR) F-35C.

The aircraft descends from the Lockheed Martin X-35, which in 2001 beat the Boeing X-32 to win the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.

Its development is principally funded by the United States, with additional funding from program partner countries from NATO and close U.S. allies, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Italy, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and formerly Turkey. Several other countries have ordered, or are considering ordering, the aircraft.

The program has drawn much scrutiny and criticism for its unprecedented size, complexity, ballooning costs, and much-delayed deliveries, with numerous technical flaws still being corrected.

Operating costs

The F-35's operating cost is higher than those of some older fighters. In fiscal year 2018, the F-35A's cost per flight hour (CPFH) was $44,000, a number that was reduced to $35,000 in 2019. For comparison, in 2015 the CPFH of the A-10 was $17,716; the F-15C, $41,921; and the F-16C, $22,514. Lockheed Martin hopes to reduce it to $25,000 by 2025 through performance-based logistics and other measures.

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