In formation

Three F-35 A-Variant fighter planes are seen here in formation.

The fighter's propulsion system features the most powerful fighter/attack turbofans in the world, according to the Pentagon. But a crack recently discovered in one of the turbine blades is the reason for the current grounding of the next-generation fighter jet.

The Pratt & Whitney F135 engine family consists of a three-stage fan, a six-stage compressor, an annular combustor, a single-stage high-pressure turbine, and a two-stage low-pressure turbine.
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Photo by: Department of Defense / Caption by:

Money-saving diagnostics

The F-35 will have next-generation Autonomic Logistics (AL) -- essentially advanced diagnostics that will assist with systems monitoring, maintenance, and prognostics to support the aircraft. The Pentagon says that historically, more-traditional diagnostics have accounted for two-thirds of an aircraft's life-cycle cost.
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Photo by: Department of Defense / Caption by:

Belly of the beast

The underside of an F-35C is seen here during a test flight.

Though the F-35 comes in three variants, specialized for unique use cases, systems-commonality is the key to affordability, says the Pentagon.

These common systems enhance maintenance, field support, and service interoperability. The Joint Strike Fighter is also designed to integrate new technologies during its entire life-cycle.
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Photo by: Andy Wolfe / Caption by:

A protective sphere for pilots

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems have designed the sensor array technology for the F-35, which the Pentagon says will provide pilots with a unique protective sphere around the aircraft for enhanced situational awareness, missile warning, aircraft warning, day/night pilot vision, and fire-control capabilities.
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Photo by: Andy Wolfe / Caption by:

Electro-Optical Targeting System

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems have also developed the Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS), which provides extended range detection and precision targeting against ground targets, including advanced long range detection of air-to-air threats.
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Photo by: Department of Defense / Caption by:

High-tech helmet

Vision Systems International has developed the advanced Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) for the F-35, which will enhance the pilot's situational awareness and ability to access the wide array of sensor data.
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Photo by: Department of Defense / Caption by:

Satellite communications

The Pentagon says the F-35 will possess a satellite communications capability that integrates beyond-line-of-sight communications and will lead the defense community in the migration to the Net-centric war-fighting force of the future.
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Photo by: Department of Defense / Caption by:

Dodging radar

Advanced radar-evading technology gives the F-35 extreme stealth features with an integrated airframe design, use of advanced materials, and an axisymmetric nozzle.
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Photo by: Department of Defense / Caption by:

The Air Force's F-35A

Here, we see the F-35A variant -- the Air Force's lightweight and agile fighter jet.
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Photo by: Department of Defense / Caption by:

F-35 weapons integration

The F-35 will be capable of carrying both U.S. and allied weapons. From JDAMs to Sidewinders to the UK Storm Shadow, the F-35 has been designed to carry either internally or externally a large array of weapons.
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Photo by: Department of Defense / Caption by:
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