The F-35: Analysis of cost, performance and effectiveness

F-35 fighter jet

Deciphering the F-35: cost, users, performance, weapons, advantages and disadvantages. Full evaluation of the fighter jet.

The F-35, often cited as the flagship of modern aviation, is the subject of intense debate among defense experts. In this article, we dive into the details, from acquisition costs to operational capabilities, to paint a complete picture of this iconic fighter.

How much does an F-35 cost?

Over the years, the unit cost of the F-35 has fluctuated according to economies of scale, design modifications and other factors. In 2022, the estimated cost of the F-35A, the most common variant, is around US$80 million, according to Joint Strike Fighter program reports. The F-35B and F-35C variants, intended for short take-off and vertical landing operations and aircraft carriers respectively, generally have a higher cost due to their specialized landing and take-off systems.

Which countries use the F-35?

The F-35 is used by many countries, both as main partners in the program and as foreign buyers. Major partners include the USA, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Norway, Denmark and Turkey. Other nations, such as Israel, Japan, South Korea and Poland, have also acquired the F-35 as part of foreign military sales.

Yes, the F-35 is designed with stealth capabilities to reduce its visibility to enemy radars. Its shape, materials and design minimize radar reflectivity and reduce the infrared signature.

Is the F-35 a good aircraft?

This question is open to debate. Advocates of the F-35 point to its versatility, advanced stealth capabilities, state-of-the-art sensor systems and ability to operate in highly contested environments. However, its detractors point to high development costs, delays and certain technical problems encountered during the test phase.

How does the F-35 perform?

The F-35 is capable of flying at a maximum speed of around Mach 1.6. It features sophisticated avionics to ensure information superiority, detect and track threats at long range, and operate in heavily defended environments.

What weapons does the F-35 carry?

The F-35 is equipped with an internal payload bay to preserve its stealth, capable of carrying air-to-air missiles like the AIM-120 AMRAAM, and guided bombs like the GBU-31 JDAM. It also has external pylons for missions requiring additional firepower. For close combat, it is equipped with a GAU-22/A 25 mm internal cannon.

F-35 fighter jet

What are the F-35’s shortcomings?

Over the years, several problems have been identified with the F-35, ranging from software issues to structural and thermal challenges. Some critics also point to the overall cost of the program, and feel that the aircraft may not meet the specific needs of certain combat scenarios.

Is the F-35 safe?

Like all modern military aircraft, the F-35 has undergone a rigorous series of tests and evaluations. Although there have been incidents and concerns, in general, the aircraft is considered safe when used as intended.

How effective is the F-35?

The effectiveness of an aircraft depends on the context in which it is used. The F-35 was designed to be versatile and adaptable to a variety of missions. In exercises and simulations, it has demonstrated an ability to dominate other aircraft and operate effectively in hostile environments. However, some critics feel that other aircraft might be better suited to specific missions.

The F-35, with its stealth capabilities, versatility and advanced avionics, is a formidable addition to the air forces of partner nations. However, like any weapons system, it has both advantages and disadvantages. Debates will certainly continue about its value, capabilities and cost as it enters service and faces real combat scenarios.