F-35B JSF-STOVL USMC Model
The F-35B JSF STOVL is a single-seat single-engine stealth-capable military strike fighter a short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant aircraft that can perform close air support tactical bombing and air-to-air combat. The F-35B was developed by an aerospace industry team led by Lockheed Martin with Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems as major partners. It took its first flight on December 15 2006. The F-35B was the result of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program created by the U.S. Defense Department out of a requirement for a multi-role fighter aircraft capable of both air-to-ground and air-to-air missions. The F-35B replaced the AV-8B Harrier STOVL and F/A-18 fighter planes of the US Marine Corps. The F-35B s advantage over other legacy STOVL strike fighters is its concealed belly-mounted 25 mm gun pod and combat radius of more than 450 NM which is two times greater than the latter. The U.S. Air Force (USAF) requested to acquire hundreds of F-35B STOVL for the battlefield close support role in 2004. JSF program officials insisted that they do not want to build a fourth JSF variant despite the USAF s interest in acquiring a new STOVL model. However Lockheed Martin still developed the fourth version of the Joint Strike Fighter to satisfy the needs of the Navy Marine Corps and Air Force of the United States and the Royal Air Force and Navy of the United Kingdom.