You know when you are in the presence of something special, and the F-35b lightening is precisely that. Recent touch down on British soil, first at RAF Fairford, then as part of the air display at Farnborough Air Show last weekend, certainly didn't disappoint as the F35 hovered at about a 1000 feet, to a stunned silence from the vast last day crowd.
The F-35b Lightening is a 5th generation aircraft, the most advanced in the world, due to a combination of integrated sensors, weapons technology and stealth properties. The stealth technology allows the aircraft to fly in any airspace without being detected by radar, the epoxy skin is alleged to absorb and not redirect radar, which the hopeless diamond of the F-117 did. The F-35b lightning is capable of flying at speeds of up to Mach 1.6, and can fly at altitudes of 50,000 feet.
This was the $100m a pop jet's first debut at an international air show, and is the Pentagon's most expensive weapons programme to date, with an estimated lifetime cost at over a trillion dollars. They are about to double production numbers for the F-35, in a batch of 160, which should drop the per-plane-price significantly below the $100m mark, which makes this advanced stealth jet cheaper than the competing Euro fighter typhoon.