Italeri ITA48138 USMC Lockheed-Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter - 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin Air Force Base [Low-Vis Scheme] (1:100 Scale)
"The F-35 program executive officer, has stated that the 'F-35 enjoys a significant Combat Loss Exchange Ratio advantage over the current and future air-to-air threats, to include Sukhois, which are currently being flown by the Russian, Indian, and Chinese Air Forces.'"
- Maj Gen Charles R. Davis, USAF, the F-35 program executive officer
The F-35B is the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the aircraft. Similar in size to the A variant, the B sacrifices about a third of the other version's fuel volume to accommodate the vertical flight system. Vertical takeoffs and landings are riskier due to threats such as foreign object damage. Whereas the F-35A is stressed to 9 g, the F-35B is stressed to 7 g. The first test flight of the F-35B was conducted on June 11th, 2008.
Unlike other variants, the F-35B has no landing hook. The "STOVL/HOOK" control instead engages conversion between normal and vertical flight. Jet thrust is sent directly downwards during vertical flight; the nozzle is being redesigned to spread the output across an oval rather than circular shape in order to limit damage to asphalt and ship decks. The variant's three-bearing swivel nozzle that directs the full thrust of the engine is moved by a fueldraulic actuator using pressurized fuel.
The United States Marine Corps plans to purchase 340 F-35Bs, to replace current inventories of both the F/A-18 Hornet (A, B, C and D-models), and the AV-8B Harrier II, in the fighter, and attack roles. The Marines plan to use the F-35B from "unimproved surfaces at austere bases" but with "special, high-temperature concrete designed to handle the heat." The USMC intends to declare Initial Operational Capability with about 50 F-35s running interim Block 2B software in the 2014 to 2015 time frame. The USAF had considered replacing the A-10 with the F-35B, but will not do so due to the F-35B inability to generate enough sorties.
The Royal Air Force and Royal Navy plan for the F-35B is to replace the Harrier GR9s, which were retired in 2010. One of the Royal Navy requirements for the F-35B design was a Shipborne Rolling and Vertical Landing (SRVL) mode to increase maximum landing weight to bring back unused ordnance by using wing lift during landing. In October 2010, the UK announced plans to order to the CATOBAR F-35C instead, but in May 2012 the UK reverted to purchasing the F-35B, citing the cost of equipping the UK's new aircraft carriers for the F-35C. In July 2013, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton announced that 617 Squadron would be the first operational Royal Air Force squadron to receive the F-35. The second operational squadron will be the Fleet Air Arm's 809 NAS. On June 28th, 2013 the Royal Air Force received three aircraft of the 48 on order, they are currently being based at Eglin Air Force base, and not expected in the UK until 2015. The aircraft are projected to be operational in 2018.
The Italian Navy is preparing Grottaglie Air Station for future operations with the F-35B. The Italian Navy is to receive 22 aircraft between 2014 and 2021, with its Cavour aircraft carrier set to be modified to operate them by 2016. Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, General James Amos has said that, in spite of increasing costs and schedule delays, there is no plan B to the F-35B. The F-35B is larger than the aircraft it replaces, which required USS America to be designed without well deck capabilities. In 2011, the USMC and USN signed an agreement that the USMC will purchase 340 F-35B and 80 F-35C fighters while the USN will purchase 260 F-35C fighters. The five squadrons of USMC F-35Cs will be assigned to Navy carriers while F-35Bs will be used on amphibious ships and ashore.
On January 6th, 2011, Gates said that the 2012 budget would call for a two-year pause in F-35B production during which the aircraft faced redesign, or cancellation if unsuccessful. In 2011, Lockheed Martin executive vice president Tom Burbage and former Pentagon director of operational testing Tom Christie stated that most program delays were due to the F-35B, which forced massive redesigns of other versions. Lockheed Martin Vice President Steve O'Bryan has said that most F-35B landings will be conventional to reduce stress on vertical lift components. However these conventional mode takeoffs and landings cause "an unacceptable wear rate" to the aircraft's poorly designed tires. USMC Lt. Gen. Robert Schmidle has said that the vertical lift components would only be used "a small percentage of the time" to transfer the aircraft from carriers to land bases. On October 3rd, 2011, the F-35B began its initial sea-trials by performing a vertical landing on the deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp. Probation status was reportedly ended by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in January 2012 due to progress made.
Pictured here is a 1:100 scale replica of a USMC Lockheed-Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.
Wingspan: 4-1/4 inches
Length: 6 inches
Release Date: February 2014
Historical Account: "Performance Anxiety" - Some public figures such as conservative politician Dennis Jensen in Australia, and American combat aircraft expert Pierre Sprey, have expressed concern over the aircraft's combat capabilities with specific regard to radar visibility, weight to power ratio, turn rate and inflammability. The concerns about the F-35's performance have resulted in part from reports of RAND simulations where numerous Russian Sukhoi fighters defeat a handful of F-35s. Dr. Jensen also suggested it is inferior to current and superseded aircraft already in service around the world. As a result of these issues the Australian defence minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, requested a formal briefing from the Department of Defence on the computer simulation. This briefing stated that the reports of the simulation were inaccurate, and that it did not compare the F-35's performance against that of other aircraft. Controversial Australian engineer Carlo Kopp has also claimed that new long-wavelength radars operated by the Russian armed forces can detect the F-35 at any angle. Additionally, Kopp claims that the F-35 is significantly stealthy only in a narrow cone around its nose, and is more like a conventional aircraft in a clean configuration from the side aspect, and only partially stealthy in certain radar wavelengths from the rear aspect.
The criticism of the F-35 has been dismissed by the Pentagon and manufacturer. The USAF has conducted an analysis of the F-35's air-to-air performance against all 4th generation fighter aircraft currently available, and has found the F-35 to be at least four times more effective. Maj Gen Charles R. Davis, USAF, the F-35 program executive officer, has stated that the "F-35 enjoys a significant Combat Loss Exchange Ratio advantage over the current and future air-to-air threats, to include Sukhois", which are currently being flown by the Russian, Indian, and Chinese Air Forces. (courtesy Wikipedia)