F-35 Lightning II

The F-35 is a stealthy, supersonic, multirole fighter designed to meet the requirements of the U.S. and allied defense forces worldwide for an affordable next generation fighter.

F-35 fighter jet on a dry lake bead at sunset
View of F-35 Fight Jet Integrated Assembly Line

Program Overview

The F-35 Lightning II is a stealthy, supersonic, multirole fighter designed to meet the requirements of the United States and allied defense forces worldwide for an affordable next generation fighter. It will replace a wide range of aging fighter and strike aircraft currently in the inventories of the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and allied defense forces.

Northrop Grumman is a principal member of the Lockheed Martin-led industry team, which is developing producing and sustaining three variants. The F-35A is the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B is the short takeoff-vertical landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C is the carrier variant (CV).

The program’s hallmarks – affordability, survivability, sustainability and lethality – are achieved through the use of the most modern military aircraft technologies, state-of-the-art production facilities, and a high degree of commonality among the three variants. The team is using advanced manufacturing techniques to enable a unique, high-rate production program and innovative, cost effective solutions to deliver affordable sustainment for the long term.

f-35 in the air

Northrop Grumman plays a critical role in the development, demonstration, production and sustainment of this multirole fighter, including:

  • The production of the center fuselage, which forms a significant portion of the aircraft's internal weapons bay and internal fuel capacity
  • The design and production of the AN/APG-81 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) fire control radar, which brings unmatched capability to air-to-air and air-to-surface missions, complemented by significant electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance functions
  • The design and production of the AN/AAQ-37 Distributed Aperture System (DAS), which provides simultaneous modes of situational awareness, infrared search and track, missile warning and navigation not available on any other aircraft
  • The design and production of the AN/ASQ-242 Communications, Navigation and Identification (CNI) avionics suite, which can be dynamically programmed to arm the F-35 pilot with multiple-mission capabilities engineered for seamless transition from one mission phase to the next
  • The development of mission systems and mission-planning software
  • The development and delivery of pilot and maintenance training system courseware
  • The management of the team’s use, support and maintenance of low-observable technologies
  • The delivery of sustainment and modernization support to F-35 users, driving improvements to the enterprise-level sustainment solution through focused analysis, engagement, and innovation to reduce cost while increasing mission availability

About the F-35
With more than 600 aircraft operating from 26 bases and ships around the globe, the F-35 plays a critical role in today’s global security environment. More than 1,200 pilots and 10,000 maintainers are trained, and the F-35 fleet has surpassed more than 350,000 cumulative flight hours. Northrop Grumman is proud to be a part of the international partnership involved in building three variants of the F-35. As a leader in aviation advanced design, manufacturing sustainment and modernization, we are focused on working with our international supplier team to deliver the highest quality products and support to our customers to ensure uninterrupted mission readiness

F-35 Program Update
As of February 2021, nine nations have F-35s operating from a base on their home soil, nine services have declared Initial Operational Capability and six services have employed F-35s in combat operations. The United States Air Force deployed the F-35 for 18 consecutive months from April 2019 until October 2020 in the CENTCOM Area of Responsibility with hundreds of weapons employments in support of U.S. service members and their allies.

F-35 in the News

Advancing Aeronautics Through F-35 Manufacturing Excellence

Advancing Aeronautics Through F-35 Manufacturing Excellence

10 people in a line a groundbreaking ceremony

Breaking Ground for F-35 Integrated Assembly Line in Germany

rendering of connecting distributed platforms across domains

Northrop Grumman Connects Distributed Platforms Across Domains

Multi-platform demonstration showcased interoperability among F-35, MQ-4C Triton, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and naval ships

F-35 sitting on tarmac

Northrop Grumman Developing the Next Generation Radar for the F-35 Lightning II

Placeholder image for card grids

Northrop Grumman Taps Quickstep for Australian-made Components to Support F-35 Program

fighter aircraft fuselage on assembly line

Northrop Grumman Delivers 900th F-35 Center Fuselage

F-35 fighter jet bursting through clouds

Northrop Grumman to Enable New F-35 Warfighting Capability

Top view of the F35 Assembly Line

Aviation Week Honors Northrop Grumman with the Laureate Award in Defense Manufacturing

Side view of the AN/APG-81 AESA Radar

Northrop Grumman Delivers 500th AN/APG-81 AESA Radar for the F-35 Lightning II

Technician working on a F35 center fuselage

Northrop Grumman Delivers 500th Center Fuselage for the F-35 Lightning II

F-35 Fighter Jet in flight

Northrop Grumman Selected to Continue F-35 Program Mission Critical Work

F-35 Fighter Jet on runway

Northrop Grumman Welcomes Selection of UK for Second Major Assignment to Provide Global F-35 Avionics and Aircraft Component Repair Services

F-35 Media Contact

Christine Simmons