Three Variants, Common Capability
The F-35 family includes three variants – all single-seat jets: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier variant (CV).
The three F-35 variants have similar performance characteristics, and are mainly distinguished by their different basing requirements. As a result, the F-35B and F-35C variants have unique ways to take off and land.
The variation between models allows military forces to achieve service-specific mission capability, while still taking advantage the economies of scale that result from the parts and processes that are common to all three variants. All three variants are supersonic, low observable stealth fighters that all have the same advanced avionics required to execute multirole missions and the support of the F-35 sustainment technologies.
conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant is designed to operate from
conventional runways, and is the only version to carry an internal cannon. The F-35A
will be the most prevalent variant of the F-35. The U.S. Air Force as well as the
majority of our allied air forces and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) nations will
operate the F-35A, replacing their 3rd and 4th generation aircraft.
model short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant is designed to operate from
austere, short-field bases and a range of air-capable ships operating near front-line combat zones. The
F-35B can also take off and land conventionally from longer runways at major
the first time in U.S. Naval aviation history, radar-evading stealth capability
comes to the carrier deck. The F-35C carrier variant (CV) is the Navy’s first
stealth fighter and the world’s only 5th Generation, long-range stealth strike
fighter designed and built explicitly for aircraft carrier operations.