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10 Technologies You Didn’t Know Could Fit In A Single Aircraft

See what's inside the most technologically advanced aircraft in the skies today, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.

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1. A pilot helmet that can see 360 degrees around the jet at once.

For so long, X-ray vision has eluded everyone but science-fiction writers. Until now. Using imagery from six infrared cameras in the aircraft's skin, the helmet F-35 pilots wear allows them to "look through the airframe" for an unprecedented 360° view.

2. A virtually undetectable, radar-absorbent body...

Lockheed Martin / Via Flickr: lockheedmartin

Stealth isn't speed. It's evasion, and the F-35's sleek design and radar-absorbent body make the plane "virtually undetectable by radar." And each aircraft's two-year production ends with a precise coating process performed by robots.

4. A "brain" that paints a real-time picture of the battlefield.

Lockheed Martin / Via Flickr: lockheedmartin

They don't call it a flying supercomputer for nothing. The F-35 parses huge amounts of data from on-board sensors. Test pilot Alan Norman explains: "The airplane [is] all interconnected with fiber, so we have a supersonic fiber network flying around."

5. The first-ever 360-degree situational awareness system...

Lockheed Martin / Via Flickr: lockheedmartin

The only one of its kind, the F-35's Distributed Aperture System is a "360-degree, spherical situational awareness" sensor, offering everything from missile detection to night vision. In short, it sees the enemy before they know they've been seen.

6. ...plus exceptional targeting technology.

Lockheed Martin / Via Flickr: lockheedmartin

Encased in a sapphire window below the cockpit is a sensor, the Electro-Optical Targeting System. Combining two types of infrared technologies, the EOTS gives pilots high-resolution imagery and superior targeting capabilities.

7. A robust IT network capable of supporting future aircraft.

Courtesy of Lockheed Martin

It takes a lot of ingenuity to maintain an F-35. Specifically, it takes the Autonomic Logistics Information System. As Staff Sgt. Jason Ferguson explains, "ALIS is a computer-based network that we use to document all our aircraft maintenance."

8. The most advanced avionics system ever engineered.

Lockheed Martin / Via Flickr: lockheedmartin

When you sign up to pilot the world's most advanced aircraft, "multitasking" should be a skill on your résumé. Luckily, the F-35's avionics allow you to balance several operations at once — like friend-or-foe identification and precise enemy targeting.

9. An engine that can tell mechanics what's wrong if it breaks.

Lockheed Martin / Via Flickr: lockheedmartin

Powering an aircraft that can reach a top speed of 1.6 Mach (or, as we call it, 1,200 mph) is no easy job. Fortunately, the last few years have seen research into vibration-based prognostics, so the F-35's engine is constantly monitored.

10. And, finally, propulsion technology that allows it to hover in midair.

Courtesy of Lockheed Martin

Parking in a city garage is tough, but parking in midair? You'd think it impossible, but thanks to the F-35's propulsion technology, the aircraft can balance mid-flight and descend to the ground vertically. What's more, it's initiated by a single button!

There’s more to the F-35 than meets the eye. Get up to speed on the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft at F35.com.

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