United States

Three Variants for Three Services

The United States is the only partner nation that flies all three variants of the F-35.

The U.S. Air Force is the largest F-35 operator of all the international forces with a planned purchase of 1,763 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant. The Lightning II will operate in conjunction with the Air Force's first 5th Generation fighter, the F-22 Raptor. The U.S. Air Force declared F-35A Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in July 2015. 

The Marine Corps currently flies the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant, with plans to purchase 353 STOVL jets and 67 F-35C carrier variant aircraft. The U.S. Marine Corps declared F-35B IOC in August 2016. 

Together with the Marines, the U.S. Navy will bring 5th Generation capability to the sea with 260 F-35C jets. The U.S. Navy plans to declare F-35C IOC in 2018. 

As the F-35 program's largest customer, the United States is also responsible for a large portion of the design, production, test and sustainment of the Lightning II. Learn more about the Americans behind the F-35, and see what the program's economic impact is by state.