Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin

Model: unknown

Name: Lightning UCAV

Type: Unmanned fighter (UCAV)

Date: 2015

Status: Operational service

Country: United States of America

Service: U.S. Air Force

Designation: QF-35D


This is a photo of the first production F-35 (see below right) which was edited by erasing the cockpit and drawing a closed compartment in its place. This could be a way to change the aircraft from piloted to unpiloted by adding or removing a flight control module... or access to an enlarged bomb bay.

The believability of a UCAV version lies not so much in the design itself (the removal of the cockpit doesn't change much to the aircraft's aerodynamics or general inflight behavior) as in the capacity to successfully operate it from the ground with the same efficiency in air-to-air combat as a piloted fighter... and although real-world UCAV fighter versions are probably in the works at the moment, that aspect still remains to be seen in an operational context.

Viewers' comments:
  • "Stargazer's picture is like a very true advertisement: "buy it!" Yes, this could be in a near future (Lockheed will have to pay $billions of copyrights to our Stargazer2006!)" (Tophe)
  • "Awesome picture!!!" (Fulcrum)
  • "Whoa! Cool Unmanned fighter aircraft!" (theF-man)
  • "It looks sweet!" (ROFLSOLDIER)
  • "Pretty cool. I gues it's just a matter of time until UCAVs are also given fighter roles." (Panzerfire)
  • "I suspect something like this is already under study in Fort Worth's AD/PD (Advanced Design/Preiminary Design) area on the second floor of Building 200 there. Given the systems on the F-35, it would not be at all difficult." (elmayerle)
  • "Now this totally reminds me of one of the images that was released by LM that was a UCAV. This manip. looks similar to it, but the other one had a more blended shape in the front because you can see that there is a difference from where the cockpit used to be here." (GF-44Phantom)

My comments: