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STOVL — Lightning II for the Marines

20 January 2014

STOVL — Lightning II for the Marines

F-35 Lightning II — Dane Wiedmann photo provided by the U.S. Navy

F-35B Lightning II with the lift fan inlet deployed aft of the cockpit as well as main engine auxiliary inlet just further aft and vectored thrust nozzle directed downward at the rear — Dane Wiedmann photo provided by the U.S. Navy

The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) has a variation of the fifth generation fighter known as the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II called the F-35B (the USAF has the F-35A and the USN has the F-35C). It is stealthy (two internal weapons bays) and modern (vectored thrust, composite fuselage, glass cockpit) like the other two Lightning II models but differs in also possessing vertical thrust. A lift fan immediately aft of the cockpit (powered by a driveshaft from the Rolls-Royce LiftSytsem* mated to the Pratt & Whitney F135** turbofan) is utilized along with a three-bearing swivel module (3BSM)*** which vectors thrust from the engine giving the F-35B its short takeoff and vertical landing ability (STOVL). The F-35B has smaller weapons bays and less fuel due to the lift fan and is stressed to 7G as opposed to 9G but can operate from what the Marines call “austere airfields” — replacing the Harrier with a meaner machine — which fits the style of the Corps.

F-35 Lightning II — U.S. Navy photo

F-35B Lightning II on a shipborne flight deck with better views of the deployed lifting fan inlet and main engine auxiliary inlet, as well as the forward hinged canopy — U.S. Navy photo

* The Rolls-Royce LiftSystem was awarded the 2001 Collier Trophy

** The GE/Rolls-Royce F136 engine was in the running until late in 2011 — our thanks to the two who corrected our error (see comments below)

*** Thanks to Gary Lockhart for his correction to the original text (see his comment below).

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Gary Lockhart permalink
    20 January 2014 16:41

    “A lift fan immediately aft of the cockpit is utilized along with a swiveling engine”(sic)

    The exhaust nozzle is attached to a three-bearing swivel module (3BSM) which mates the engine to the exhaust nozzle. The module swivels. The engine does not.

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      20 January 2014 17:25

      Thanks for this — I could not get an authoritative reference on this aspect but decided to go with what was written in Wikipedia (not my usual policy but usually a safe bet though not in this case) and I may have misunderstood what I read. I’ll edit the text and, again, I appreciate the correction. Your terms used in your comment also allowed me to get the original references. Thanks again, Joe

  2. Bobby Barrett permalink
    21 January 2014 11:41

    Sir, the statement, “… (powered by a driveshaft from the Rolls-Royce LiftSytsem* mated to the General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136 turbofan) …” is in error.

    The engine used in production aircraft is a Pratt & Whitney, F135-PW-600 model.

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      21 January 2014 15:29

      Thanks for this correction. The history of the F-35’s engine is almost as complicated as that of the aircraft. The F136 was in the running until late 2011 as it turns out but the F135 is what now powers all three F-35 models. Thanks again and we will amend the copy. Joe

  3. Steve Lawrence permalink
    21 January 2014 14:47

    The jet doesn’t use a GE/Rolls engine. It use a Pratt & Whitney F135

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      21 January 2014 15:30

      Hello and thanks. We are making the required changes, per the previous comment. Joe

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