Category Archives: Fighters

Why the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is Replacing the Military’s Fighter Jets

A fifth generation fighter aircraft, Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II offers the U.S military advanced stealth along with network-enabled operations, fighter speed and agility, advanced support and completely amalgamated sensor information. The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is available in three different types. The three Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II types are meant for the three main factions of the U.S military i.e. the army, the navy, and the air force. Each faction is assigned a different Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II type.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II type assigned to the U.S Air Force will replace the F-16 and A-10, the F-35 Lightning II type assigned to the U.S Navy will replace the F/A-18  and the Lightning II type assigned to the U.S Marine Corps will replace the AV-8B. Why is the U.S military replacing its old fighter aircrafts with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II? There are many reasons for this. However, we’re going to look at some of the primary ones.

A single seat and single engine fighter aircraft, the lightning II encompasses advanced sensors built into the aircraft. The lightning II is designed for a variety of missions including electronic attack, reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence missions. Previously, each of these missions required a different aircraft. However, the inception of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II has changed all that. Now, missions of all kind can be carried out using a single aircraft: the F-35 Lightning II.

When it comes to U.S military aviation, the F-35’s stealth capabilities are unrivalled. The stealth features of the F-35 are optimized by advanced materials and an integrated airframe design. The superior advantages that the F-35 has over other aircrafts are showcased by its stealth power, electronic attack capabilities, advanced countermeasures, data fusion, and sophisticated sensors.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II performs in a unique manner. The factors that contribute to this performance are the F-35’s state of the art manufacturing processes, immersed mission systems sensors, internal weapons and fuel carriage and external shape.

An international team of leading aerospace companies develop, produce, and support the Martin F-35 Lightning II. This makes it easy to understand why the F-35 Lightning II is head and shoulders above other fighter aircrafts. In short, compared to the other fighter aircrafts, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II provides the U.S military greater access and survivability in times of conventional warfare. Therefore, it’s a preferred choice!

 

Aircrafts of the USAF

The US Air Force is known across the world for its superior air power dominance.  What is it that sets the USAF apart from other Air Forces? It comes down to  technology, practice (war games) and skill.

The USAF’s air fleet consists of custom-made airframes that enable them to carry out and complete different missions effectively. Of course the aircrafts need a pilot to navigate, operate and maneuver them in order to ensure successful completion of each operation assigned to them.  

Here’s a list of some of the mean machines that make up a part of the total USAF fleet.

B-52 Stratofortress

The Stratofortress is a long-range bomber aircraft.  It has been in use since the 1950s and was one of the primary vehicles used during the war in Vietnam. The B52s have since been outfitted with the latest technical military advances so that it can continue Its mission in executing the extensive range of tasks it has always been capable of taking on. In times of conflicts, the B-52 serves the USAF for strategic attacks, close air support, maritime and counter-air missions, and surveillance and its ability to fly up to 80,000 feet makes it invulnerable to many of today’s ground to air missiles.

B-2 Spirit

The next generation of bomber. The stealth bomber B-2 Spirit has the ability to carry both nuclear and conventional armaments on board.

B-1B Lancer

The bomber B-1B Lancer currently forms the backbone of the USAF’s combat fleet. It is capable of carrying out multiple missions with large quantities of weaponry that includes both non-precision and precision weapons. The aircraft boasts the largest payload capacity in the USAF fleet.

F-15

The highly maneuverable F-15 fighter is designed for greater air dominance in air-to-air combat. The upgraded F-15E variation comes with the additional capability of executing air-to-ground combat missions with exceptional precision.

F-16 Fighting Falcon

Most of you might be familiar with this one already. The multi-purpose F-16 aircrafts are used by the USAF for both air-to-ground and air-to-air combat. These solid machines are compact and offer greater maneuverability for missions.

F-22 Raptor

This  is the only combat ready fighter jet belonging to the fifth-generation. It is the most recently employed aircraft in the USAF. The fighter offers stealth combined with advanced avionics, exceptional maneuverability, and supercruise mode for unmatched aerial supremacy.

HH-60G Pave Hawk

The HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter is used for operations involving personnel recovery from hostile territories. It is also used for humanitarian assistance, disaster response, and search and rescue ops.

HC-130

The HC-130 aircraft and its variants are serving the USAF as personnel recovery platforms. They are primarily used for evacuations and disaster response. This particular aircraft can operate and land on a diverse assortment of airfields.

MC-130

This aircraft provides mid-air support, refueling, resupply, exfiltration, and infiltration for the special-operations forces. The aircraft is also used for carrying out secondary psychological missions, like air dropping leaflets to influence emotions and behaviors of particular groups of individuals.

T-6A Texan II

This aircraft is the basic trainer aircraft serving the USAF. The T-6A Texan II is used to provide primary flying skills, knowledge, and training to the US Navy and Air Force pilots.

T-38 Talon

The T-38 Talon too, is a USAF training jet. Its basic purpose is to train pilots for high-altitude supersonic flying missions. These missions are usually carried out by the A-10, B-1B, F-15E, and F-22 aircrafts.

U-2S/TU-2S

This beauty is used for high-altitude reconnaissance and surveillance. The aircraft is capable of operating in all sorts of environmental and weather conditions. The U-2S/TU-2S plane is designed to capture HD photographic imagery and monitor for signals intelligence.

We bet you’re far more learned about the USAF than you were before you read this post. Currently the USAF uses 39 distinct aircrafts for its operations. Each aircraft and its variations serve a specific purpose. Without these aircrafts it’s safe to say that the USAF is incomplete.

P-51 Mustang

Success would be an understatement when talking about the P51 Mustang. This plane was active in World War II and the Korean War. During World War II, the Mustangs were the first to see action after France was overtaken by the Germans and it was able to defeat every German plane it came in contact with.

Built by North American Aviation P-51 was a long-range, single-seat fighter. It was initially developed for the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a tactical-reconnaissance aircraft and was subsequently flown by the RAF, before it was used by the United States.

The Mustang’s history is impressive. Based in England, it penetrated Germany’s defenses and was the first allied aircraft to reach Berlin. During late 1943 and 1944, the USAAF’s Eighth Air Force’s Mustangs were used to escort bombers on bombing raids and they were used to look for and engage the German Luftwaffe airplanes.

The Mustangs were also involved in North African, Mediterranean and Italian battles.

The final tally for kills by the P-51s during World War II was 4,950 enemy aircraft shot down.

But these success stories didn’t end there. At the beginning of the Korean War, the Mustang was the main fighter. It wasn’t until the F-86 fighter jets took over that the Mustang changed roles to become fighter-bomber.

Even though jet fighters were all the rage in the 1950’s, the P-51s actually continued on as a service fighter until the early 1980s.

The Mustangs are now flown as civilian planes and are also used in air shows around the country.

F-35 Lightning II

The F-35 Lightning II is, essentially, a flying computer designed with cost in mind and with the objective of building a fighter jet that would accommodate the needs of the four branches of the military, as well as the Royal Air Force.

The aircraft was derived from the prototype X-35, which was the winning design of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. The program that was initiated by the DOD with the objective to progress the technology of previous generation aircraft. The plane was built by Lockheed Martin, who coordinated with other partners Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney and BAE Systems.

F-35 Lightning Fighter Aircraft
The Navy variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35C, conducts a test flight over the Chesapeake Bay. ‘This file is a work of a sailor or employee of the U.S. Navy, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. Public Domain’

The aircraft is a single-seat, single-engine, all-weather advanced stealth aircraft that can be deployed in any number of roles; such as, a combat aircraft for ground attacks, aerial reconnaissance and air defense missions.

The fact that it has only one engine demands that this engine must be functioning at all times and work is still being done to ensure this capability.

There are currently three F-35 variants: The F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL), the F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) and the F-35C carrier-based Catapult Assisted Take-Off Barrier Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) variant.

The specific responsibilities of these variants are as follows: The fighter will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the Air Force, will replace the F/A-18 for the Navy aboard aircraft carriers and will replace the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier as the STOVL variant for the Marine Corps. Learn more about the aircraft replacements by the F-35 here.

The F-35 is currently undergoing testing and final development by Lockheed Martin. It is part of the fifth generation category (incorporates numerous technological advances from the previous generation, but not many specifics have been given out).

It is interesting to note that Lt. Col. Christine Mau of 33rd Fighter Wing Operations Group is the first female pilot to fly this aircraft. “It wasn’t until I was taxiing to the runway that it really struck me that I was on my own in the jet. I had a chase aircraft, but there was no weapons system officer or instructor pilot sitting behind me, and no one in my ear like in simulators.” said Mau. “It felt great to get airborne. The jet flies like a dream, and seeing the systems interact is impressive. Flying with the Helmet Mounted Display takes some adjusting, but it’s an easy adjustment. The training missions in the simulator prepare you very well, so you’re ready for that flight.”

The Helmet Mounted Display System that the Lt. Col. is referring to is one of the new technical advancements incorporated into the fifth generation aircraft design, and it is impressive. The $400,000 helmet is a computer driven visual device that contains 8,000,000 lines of code. It provides F-35 pilots with extraordinary situational awareness that is contained in its visor’s digital display that shows airspeed, heading, altitude, targeting information and warnings. This advancement has great tactical advantages, as it significantly increases the pilot’s responsiveness.

In addition, the visor contains the Distributed Aperture System (DAS), which streams real-time video from six infrared cameras mounted in different parts of the plane and also provides night vision capability.

So, without knowing all the specifics of this new generation aircraft, the fact that it has advanced stealth and a helmet reflective of what some see in sci-fi movies already makes the F-35 Lightning a formidable fighter against potential adversaries in any situation, day or night.

This video provides some general information on the F-35.

More about the F-35 and its variants can be found in this video below.

F-15 Strike Eagle

The F-15 was the first jet fighter built in the U.S. with enough power and thrust to accelerate vertically. It is a twin-engine, all weather, high-performance air superiority fighter jet, known for having amazing acceleration and maneuverability. The F-15 has a top speed of more than 1,600 mph, which exceeds Mach 2.5 (2.5 times the speed of sound).

F-15 Strike Eagle Jet Fighter
F-15 Strike Eagle Jet Fighter By Gerry Metzler (IMG_214) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

The F-15 has room to carry a variety of armaments, which include AIM-7 Sparrow missiles, AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, the Small Diameter Bomb I, built by Boeing, the Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) and the Laser JDAM weapons, plus an internal Gatling Gun (20 mm), all critical for modern air engagements.

An F-15A, called the Streak Eagle initially flew out of North Dakota’s Grand Forks Air Force Base and broke the time-to-climb world record more than once. From January 16, 1975 to February 1, 1975, the Streak Eagle literally broke 8 time-to-climb world records. In just 3 minutes it flew to an altitude of 98,425 feet, coasting to almost 103,000 feet into the sky before descending.

F-15 Eagles, being flown by Israel’s Air Force were the very first fighters to go against a real adversary in the air. They were able to down more than 50 Syrian fighters without any losses of their own. F-15C, D and E variant models were major players in the 1991 Operation Desert Storm war, with the planes claiming 32 of 36 U.S. Air Force air-to-air victories as well as striking Iraqi ground targets. Fighting on behalf of the U.S. Air Force, the F-15 Eagle came up against MIG fighters in the Balkan war and successfully downed all of them.

The F-15E Strike Eagle had to be developed to meet the requirements set by the U.S. Air Force for air-to-ground missions. With its 23,000 pounds of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons and its built-in advanced navigation including an infrared targeting system, the F-15 is a formidable fighter that can go against any of today’s fighter aircraft anywhere in the world. These innovations enable the Strike Eagle to maintain a low altitude while flying at top speeds, even at night and in bad weather.

The F-15 remains undefeated in air-to-air combat missions, having achieved 101 aerial victories with 0 defeats.

F-14 Tomcat

Before stealth and more sophisticated aircraft technology now present in the 21st century, there was the F-14 Tomcat. This beauty was a replacement for the popular F-4 Phantom fighter and entered service with the US Navy in 1972. Since then, it performed continuous operations on U.S. aircraft carriers up to 2006. The F-14 played significant roles during this time in battles and wars throughout its existence.

F-14 Tomcat

The plane is a supersonic, twin engine, variable sweep wing, two seater aircraft, designed to attack enemy aircraft 24×7, in all weather conditions.

The F-14 has the tracking capability to monitor up to 24 targets at once. Armament includes a General Electric Vulcan M61A-1 20mm, electrically fired Gatling-style rotary machine gun, which fires 20 mm rounds at a rate of 6,000 per minute. The gun is mounted in the forward section of the fuselage, on its port side. Additionally, it can carry AIM-9, AIM-7 and AIM-54 missiles, air-to-ground Rockeye bombs, CBU cluster bombs, the Raytheon AIM-7 Sparrow radar-guided air-to-air missile, Lockheed Martin / Raytheon AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile and the Raytheon AIM-54 Phoenix missile.

F-14 missions were employed over a wide range of operations. Below is a list most of them:

·         American withdrawal from Saigon (1975)

·         Cold War intercepts (1976–1991)

·         Operations during the Lebanese Civil War (1976 and 1982–1986)

·         Attempted rescue of American hostages in Iran (1980)

·         Military operations directed at Libya (1980–1989)

·         Somali anti-aircraft fire incident (1983)

·         Invasion of Grenada (1983)

·         MS Achille Lauro incident (1985)

·         Intervention in the “Tanker War” (1987–1988)

·         The Persian Gulf War (1990–1991)

·         Interwar air operations over Iraq (1991–2003)

·         Balkans (1994–1995 and 1999)

·         Operation Enduring Freedom (2001–2003)

·         Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003–2006

Unfortunately, this aircraft was sold to the republic of Iran in the earlier years when Iran was still considered a ‘friendly’ nation. Although we have much pride in the F-14, we’re sure this plane cannot stand up to the newer F-22 Viper and the F-35 lightning, should aggressive actions accelerate between these two nations.

Just as disconcerting and more imminent is the possibility of a war between Israel and Iran, we’re we may see dogfights between Israeli F-16s and the Iranian F-14s (and other Iranian aircraft).  We’re sure military aircraft experts would be watching with a keen eye should an event like this would occur, but odds are the F-14s would again not be a match to the technically upgraded F-16s  and the more advanced Israeli Air Force.

With that said, we have seen a proud history of the F-14 throughout its successful lifetime.