Made to Evade: The F-35's Unrivaled Stealth
February 12, 2024
Stealth is key to countering growing, complex threats.
It’s one of the ways the 5th Generation F-35 is demonstrating its value to the U.S. and allies.
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.
The F-35’s shape and internal sensors, weapons and fuel all contribute to the F-35’s stealth, or “low observability.”
- Aligned edges: Specific geometric shapes and angles on the F-35 disrupt radar return – bouncing or trapping radar reflections.
- Radar absorbent coating: The gray “paint” on the F-35 reduces and absorbs radar signals.
- Embedded sensors, weapons, and fuel: Internal sensors enable the F-35 to maintain its stealth and aerodynamics. Internal weapons and fuel further reduce the F-35’s radar signature.
- Reduced engine signature: The F-35’s design minimizes the aircraft’s infrared “heat” signature.
- Electronic warfare: The F-35’s advanced electronic warfare system allows pilots to engage or jam electromagnetic threats.
All of this gives F-35 pilots an unfair advantage against threats from the air, land and sea.
Survive and Thrive
“The biggest differences in the fifth-generation aircraft and the F-16 is stealth,” explained Maj. Christopher Jeffers, a U.S. Air Force F-35 pilot. “It increases the survival rate in missions.”
The F-35’s stealth, sensor fusion, electronic attack and communications capabilities gives pilots what they need to accomplish their mission and fight another day.