BETHESDA, Md. – Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, a Maryland-based American defense contractor, announced it has developed a civilian-friendly version of its next-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Just in time for the holidays, the F-35 Lightning III, like its military counterpart, is capable of vertical take off and landing and can reach jaw-dropping speeds of up to 780 miles per hour.
“The F-35 Lightning III is the perfect gift for beginners and seasons pilots alike,” Lockheed Martin spokesman Eli Hockaday said during the aircraft’s official launch party last weekend. “At the cost of a luxury automobile, the F-35 Lightning III is among the most advanced made-for-civilian-use aircraft on the market today,” Hockaday said.
Unlike the military version, the Lightning III does not come equipped with stealth technology or laser-guided bombs. However, fans of the next-gen Air Force stealth fighter need not worry, the F-35 Lightning comes standard with a General Dynamics 25mm GAU/22A four-barrel Gatling gun embedded in its left wing. Although, in accordance with federal firearms laws, the Gatling gun is restricted to semi-automatic fire.
“Nonetheless, it’s still a joy to shoot,” said retired United Airlines pilot Earl Thomas, who penned a review of the aircraft for the December issue of Guns & Ammo magazine. “With a maximum range of 3,660 meters, it’s an ideal choice for both hunting and home defense,” said Thomas, adding he took down nine deer with the F-35’s Gatling gun while maintaining a cruising speed of six hundred miles per hour.
With an MSRP of $65,000, the F-35 Lightning III is sure to be a hit among aviation and firearms enthusiasts for years to come. To ensure no one is left out, Lockheed even has a ten round California-compliant version of the GAU/22A. So, whether you imagine yourself bombing an ISIS stronghold, strafing a humanitarian aid facility, or simply taking a leisurely flight up the coast, the Lightning III will exceed even the highest of expectations.