Review: F-35 Lightning II
By Dylan Brown
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a single seat, fifth generation multirole fighter, with capabilities ranging from ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense with stealth capability. The F-35 was the product of the Joint Strike Fighter program, primarily funded by the United States, with additional funding from the UK and other allies. Its first flight was in December of 2006, but the aircraft won't be officially deployed until 2016.
The Lightning II consists of three different variants. The F-35A is a conventional takeoff and landing version. This is the smallest and lightest of them all, and will be deployed by the U.S. Air Force. The F-35B is for short takeoffs and vertical landings, and will be used primarily by the Marines. The last version, the F-35C, is a carrier based variant, with larger wings and stronger landing gear for use aboard aircraft carriers by the Navy.
Elements of the plane's design have been taken from the F-22, but it employs a different low maintenance stealth technology, using a structural fiber mat instead of the metallic paint that previous aircraft, such as the F-22 use. Even though the F-35 is smaller than the F-22, it has a slightly larger radar cross-section, equivalent to a metal golf ball, and not the metal marble of the F-22. By its weight aspect, the plane more closely resembles the F-105 Thunderchief, but because of the thrust to weight ratio with its modern engine, it more closely resembles the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
- Length: 51', Wingspan: 35' - 43' for F-35C
- 28,000 lb of thrust, 43,000 lb with afterburner
- Maximum speed Mach 1.67+ (1,283 mph)
- Range of 1200 nm for A, 900 for B, 1400 for C
- 60,000' ceiling
- 25mm 4-barreled Gatling cannon
- 6 external hardpoints on the wings and two internal bays with two pylons each; can carry a combined weapons payload of 18,000 lb
The cockpit of the aircraft is designed for a 360 degree situational awareness, with a helmet-mounted display replacing a conventional HUD. The primary flight display is an 8" by 20" panoramic screen, with plans to integrate speech-recognition software for more effective use. The F-35 also has the ability to report its own health back to the command base. With these three different variants and large amount of future technology being incorporated into the design, the F-35 will be the backbone of tactical aviation for the decades to come.
The F-35 aircraft package by Dino Cattaneo is available for free on FlightSim.Com (here) and is titled FSX Acceleration Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.
The installation is pretty straight-forward. You copy the three aircraft variant folders and paste them into the FSX simobjects folder, and then copy the effect files and paste them into the FSX effects folder. The Acceleration expansion pack is required for use, and the Microsoft C++ redistributable package (x86) is required for the STOVL functionality to work correctly.
Included in this add-on is the F-35A, B and C flight models, along with textures for the US Air Force, Marine Corps, Royal Netherlands Air Force, Royal Air Force, and some system developmental versions. This aircraft also uses high-definition textures (4096 x 4096), and a change in the fsx.cfg file is needed for their use, which is explained in the documentation. The installed aircraft took up 550 Mb of space.