F-35: Why there's nothing like Australia's new warplane

F35 family skitch

Sixteen years ago, Lockheed Martin won the contract to build America’s premier fifth generation stealth fighter jet. Australia has committed to buying 72 of the F-35A Lightning IIs variants.

Today, the first two of Australia’s jets will be displayed at the Avalon Airshow in Geelong, Victoria, and make up part of the global Joint Strike Fighter program.

In 2015, Business Insider toured Lockheed Martin’s massive production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, where the three F-35 Lightning II variant aircraft are designed and manufactured.

Here is a look at the unique capabilities of the F-35 variant aircraft.

The F-35 is the Pentagon's largest arms program, with an estimated price tag of $391 billion over the next five decades.

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Source: Reuters

The US Department of Defence expects a total fleet of 2,457 F-35s over the next five decades.

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Source: Reuters

The lightest of the jets is the F-35A.

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

The F-35B is in the middle at 14.3 feet tall and weighs 32,300 pounds.

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

The F-35C is the tallest and the heaviest.

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

The F-35A and F-35B have the same wingspan and nearly the same length.

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Designed for the Navy, the F-35C features longer wings to create drag for the jet to slowly land on aircraft carriers.

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

The F-35C has another unique wing design.

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

'During a normal F-35C launch, the jet goes from zero to 150 miles per hour, travelling the 310-foot length of the catapult in about two seconds,' according to Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Source: Lockheed Martin

According to Navy officials, the at-sea developmental testing of the F-35C is almost done.

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Source: Reuters

The F-35A is the only variant that has an internal gun; aside from that, the jets have similar designs.

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

All three variants are coated with a special material to avoid radar.

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

And obviously, the F-35 jets have some serious firepower.

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider
Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider
Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

The F-35C carries 19,750 pounds of fuel, the most fuel of the variant aircraft. All jets have the capability to be refueled in air.

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

However, the F-35A is refueled differently.

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

9 nations have already placed orders for America's premier fighter jet.

Lockheed Martin/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Source: Reuters

*This article was originally published in October, 2015. It’s has been updated with relevant information to reflect the delivery of Australia’s first F-35s.

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.