The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of fifth-generation, single-seat, single-engine stealth multirole fighters. When it enters service it will be one of the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world, performing ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions. The F-35 has three main models; one is a conventional takeoff and landing variant, the second is a short take off and vertical-landing variant, and the third is a carrier-based variant.
The F-35 is descended from the X-35, the product of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. JSF development is being principally funded by the United States, with the United Kingdom and other partner governments providing additional funding. It is being designed and built by an aerospace industry team led by Lockheed Martin. The F-35's first flight took place on 15 December 2006.
The United States intends to buy a total of 2,443 aircraft for an estimated US$323 billion, making it the most expensive defense program ever. The USAF's budget data in 2010, along with other sources, projects the F-35 to have a flyaway cost that ranges between US$89 million and US$200 million over the planned production of F-35's, depending on the variant. Lockheed Martin expects to reduce government cost estimates by 20%.
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