On 18DEC07, Lockheed Martin gave a demonstration of the F-35B, Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), to the U.S. Marine Corps. The F-35B uses short-takeoff/vertical-landing (STOVL) to allow it to launch from either a short runway or to launch vertically. The F-35B will replace the AV-8B Harrier. Lockheed Martin is scheduled to make its first delivery of F-35Bs to the Marine Corps in 2012. That is if Lockheed does not experience further redesigns, as it was forced to do three years ago.
The F-35B is one of the three variants of the JSF:
- F-35A – Conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) – This version will be purchased by the US Air Force to replace F-16s and A-10s.
- F-35B – Short-takeoff/vertical-landing (STOVL) – This version will be purchased by the US Marine Corps and the UK Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.
- F-35C – Carrier Variant (CV) – This version will be purchased by the US Navy to replace the F/A-18 and F-14. This version has greater ability to manage low-speed landings on carriers, and increased structural durability to survive catapult launches and arrested landings.
Given the delays that have already plagued the JSF and the increased use of drone aircraft, such as the MQ-9 Reaper, the JSF may undergo an additional redesign: removing the pilot. In August 2006, Lockheed Martin proposed an unmanned version of the JSF, or a hybrid version that could be both manned for some missions and unmanned for others.
Prediction: if there is ever a manned version of the JSF, it will only be temporary. The more likely scenario is a completely unmanned JSF.
yojoe (in prediction mode) out