The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program has been showcased for the public once again, this time with the F-35C variant using a new catapult technology to launch into the air.
Touted by its manufacturer Lockheed Martin as the “World’s only fifth generation multi-role fighter” the F-35 family of airframes could be the future of military planes.
The Blaze earlier told you about the Marines F-35B variant that can take-off and land on aircraft carriers. Now we bring you the F-35C variant, and its the U.S. Navy’s first-ever stealth aircraft. It operates from the Naval service’s large carriers via catapult launch and arrested recovery with the help of:
“Larger wings and control surfaces and the addition of wingtip ailerons allow the F-35C pilot to control the airplane with precision during carrier approaches. The aircraft incorporates larger landing gear and a stronger internal structure to withstand the forces of carrier launches and recoveries.”
Lockheed states that the F-35C is a major upgrade over previous stealth aircraft technologies from a maintenance standpoint because it can survive much more hostile environments and is therefore able to operate from an aircraft carrier at sea.
The F-35C weapons system is also reconfigurable, which means “the internal weapons bay can set up all air-to-ground ordnance, all air-to-air ordnance or a blend of both. A missionized version of the 25 mm GAU-22A cannon is installed or removed as needed.”
And when stealth is not required to execute a mission, the F-35C external pylons are loaded with ordnance, which means the airframe has a total weapons payload exceeding 18,000 pounds.
The F-35C will certainly pack quite a kinetic punch when it goes fully operational.
As for the new propulsion– the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch (EMAL) System– it’s apparently also major advance over the previous steam catapult technology. According to Defpro:
“EMALS is a complete carrier-based launch system designed for the future USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and all future CVN 78-class aircraft carriers. EMALS has six subsystems and will expand the operational capability of the Navy’s future carriers by permitting higher sortie rates and reduced costs compared to legacy systems. CVN 78 is more than 30 percent complete, with some production EMALS components already delivered to the shipyard to maintain a 2015 delivery schedule.”