F-35: The World's Most Advanced Fighter

F-35 Lightning 2 Logo
Lockheed Martin Logo
Search Icon
Search Icon

F-35: The World's Most Advanced Fighter

The F-35 is the most advanced, connected fighter aircraft in the world – providing unmatched 5th Generation capabilities for the U.S. and allies around the globe.

The 5th Generation F-35 combines stealth, sensors and information fusion in a supersonic, highly maneuverable fighter. The F-35’s ability to collect, analyze and share data is a powerful force multiplier that enhances the broader force – air, land and sea. 

These integrated capabilities give F-35 pilots an unprecedented advantage over adversaries, enabling them to execute their mission and return safely.

Photo: USAF Senior Airman Trevor Gordnier

More Than Meets the Eye

Stealth doesn’t make the F-35 invisible, but it does greatly complicate an adversary’s ability to find and target the jet. 

With stealth integrated from day one, the F-35 can evade enemy detection and enter contested airspace. Aligned edges, reduced engine signature, embedded sensors, and internal carriage of weapons and fuel all contribute to the F-35's stealth. 

Photo: USAF Staff Sgt. Kaitlyn Ergish

Sensor Fusion … Connecting Dots 

Advanced sensor fusion gives F-35 pilots a single, integrated view of their environment that greatly enhances awareness, survivability and effectiveness. 

The F-35 has the most advanced sensor suite of any fighter in history, including the Active Electronically Scanned Array radar, Distributed Aperture System, Electro Optical Targeting System and advanced electronic warfare capabilities to locate adversaries and disrupt attacks.

  • Helmet Mounted Display: A next generation interface gives pilots access to vast quantities of information – day or night. Virtual capabilities enable them to see through the bottom of the fuselage or directly at a target. 

  • Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar: The F-35’s AN/APG-81 AESA radar is the most capable in the world. Long-range active and passive air-to-air and air-to-ground modes support a full range of missions.  

  • Distributed Aperture System: Six infrared cameras mounted around the aircraft collect real-time imagery displayed in the F-35’s helmet.

  • Electro Optical Targeting System: The stealthy EOTS is integrated into the F-35’s fuselage and provides extended range detection, precision targeting against ground targets, and long-range detection of air-to-air threats. 

Weapons Flexibility

The F-35 can carry weapons internally or externally, depending on the mission. The F-35A can enter hostile territory undetected and remain survivable with up to 5,700 lbs. of internal ordnance. It can also carry more than 18,000 lbs. of external ordnance, including heavy weight internal weapons stations.

All variants of the F-35 will also have the potential to carry Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) or Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), providing increased reach and survivability.

Photo: Lockheed Martin

Strength, In Numbers 

The F-35 is proving its value to 21st Century Security. The F-35’s growing presence across Europe is a powerful example of allied deterrence that is setting the foundation for NATO’s next-generation air power capability. The F-35 is also the fighter of choice for key allies across the Indo-Pacific.

Photo: Lockheed Martin
Looking forward, continuous capability upgrades will provide the most significant evolution capabilities for F-35 to date, including increased missile capacity, advanced electronic warfare capabilities and improved target recognition.