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The F35 will be America’s—and therefore the world’s—dominant combat aircraft for at least the next three decades. Although the early procurement and development phases have become poster children for missed government spending and timing targets, the F35 should be seen not as a single aircraft development but several, due to the many F35 variants under production. Combining speed, stealth, and versatility the F 35B naval variant shown here is also capable of short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL), making it indispensable to the naval and military planning of regional powers like Japan, whose “helicopter carriers” seem to have been suspiciously planned around fielding aircraft like the F35.

 

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