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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.