It is the version used by the US Navy and the US Marines on large carriers

The spectacular display of an F-35C, the largest and heaviest version of this fighter

The F-35 has already become a famous and widespread fighter. According to Lockheed Martin data, more than 965 aircraft have already been delivered.

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Possibly, the least talked about version is the F-35C, which is the one designed to operate on the large aircraft carriers of the United States Navy. The US is currently the only operator of this variant of this stealth fighter: the Navy has 273 aircraft and the Marine Corps has 67 (since the USMC also operates its fighters from large aircraft carriers, generally on missions of attack and close support).

The three versions of the F-35. From right to left, the F-35A, F-35B and F-35C (Photo: Lockheed Martin).

The F-35C is the largest and heaviest model of this fighter: it has a wingspan of 13.1 meters (compared to 10.7 meters for the F-35A and F-35B), a wing of 62.06 square meters (42.74 in the other two variants) and a weight of 15.6 tons (the F-35A weighs 13.1 and the F-35B 14.7). The F-35C is also the one that can carry the most fuel (8,958 kg), the one with the greatest autonomy (2,200 km) and the largest combat radius (1,241 km).

The differences between the three versions of the F-35: the F-35A (left), the F-35B (center) and the F-35C (Source: Lockheed Martin).

The reason for the larger size of the F-35C is that it needs to be able to land at a lower speed on aircraft carriers, which is why it has a larger wingspan and also larger stabilizers. Likewise, the F-35C has two wheels on its front landing gear, unlike the F-35A and F-35B, which only have one. This double wheel is a typical configuration of US Navy embarked aircraft and is due to the force of the impact they have to endure when landing on the flight deck. In addition, the F-35C has a landing hook on its rear, right next to the nozzle, which is used to grab one of the arresting cables that US aircraft carriers have on their landing strips.

Unlike the other two variants of this fighter, the nose gear of the F-35C has two wheels, a typical feature of the US Navy's naval fighters (Image: U.S. Navy).

Another difference with its two brothers is that the F-35C has folding wingtips, to be able to park it better on the crowded flight decks and hangars of aircraft carriers. Obviously, it's not all advantages. This design means that the F-35C supports less gravitational force (7.5 g) than the F-35A (9 g), although it is somewhat greater than that of the F-35B used by the Marines (7g). Furthermore, according to Lockheed Martin, the F-35C is the variant that requires the most maintenance hours (10 per man per flight hour, compared to 4.7 for the F-35A and 7.1 for the F-35B) and the least reliable, having an average of only 3.4 flight hours between each failure (compared to 12 for the F-35A and the 7.4 of the F-35B).

An F-35C landing on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. The aircraft has its landing hook extended (Image: U.S. Navy).

Last July, an F-35C from the Marines' Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101 put on a spectacular aerial display at AirVenture 2023 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. AirshowStuffVideos published the video of this exhibition last Friday , a good opportunity to see the big brother of the F-35 family in flight:


Main photo: U.S. Navy.

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