The inside story of the most expensive and controversial military program in history, as told by those who lived it.


The F-35 has changed allied combat warfare. But by the time it’s completed, it will cost more than the Manhattan Project and the B-2 Stealth Bomber. It has been subject to the most aggressive cyberattacks in history from China, Russia, North Korea, and others. Its stealth technology required nearly 9 million lines of code; NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover required 2.5 million. And it was this close to failure.

F-35 is the only inside look at the most advanced aircraft in the world and the historic project that built it, as told by those who were intimately involved in its design, testing, and production.

Based on the authors’ personal experience and over 100+ interviews, F-35 pulls back the curtain on one of the most heavily criticized government programs in history from start to finish: the dramatic flights that won Lockheed Martin the contract over Boeing; the debates and decisions over capabilities; feats of software, hardware, and aeronautical engineering that made it possible; how the project survived the Nunn-McCurdy breach; the conflicts among all three branches of the U.S. military, between the eight other allied nation partners, and against spy elements from enemies.

For readers of Skunk Works by Ben Rich and The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, F-35 will pique the interest of airplane enthusiasts, defense industry insiders, military history aficionados, political junkies, and general nonfiction readers.

F-35 will pique the interest of airplane enthusiasts, defense industry insiders, military history aficionados, political junkies, and general nonfiction readers.

Tom Burbage

Tom Burbage retired from the Lockheed Martin Corporation in April 2013. He was the President of the Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems Company and the Executive VP/GM for both the USAF F-22 Raptor and the multi-service, allied next generation fighter, the F-35.



Prior to joining Lockheed, Mr. Burbage was a Naval Aviator, completing the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School in 1975. He has accumulated more than 3,000 hours in 38 different types of military aircraft. As a reservist he retired as a Navy Captain in 1994.

Mr. Burbage has received numerous industry awards, including the U.S. Naval Academy/Harvard Business Review Award for Ethical Leadership; the Aerospace Industry Personality of the Year; the Society of Automotive Engineers Leadership in Aerospace Award; the Donald C. Burnham Award from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers; the Silver Knight Award from the National Management Association; three Aviation Week Magazine Laurels Awards and the Society of Experimental Test Pilots James H Doolittle Award for outstanding accomplishment in technical management and engineering achievement in aerospace technology. He was elected an Associate Fellow in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in recognition of notable contributions to the arts, sciences and technology of aeronautics and astronautics. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Burbage received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and holds master’s degrees in Aeronautical Systems from the University of West Florida and Business Administration from UCLA. Tom and his wife, Ellen, reside in Alpharetta, Ga., and have three daughters and twelve grandchildren.

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