Yes, what snoogans said. Also murcielago, and anyone else thinking similarly, don't let yourself be confused by two different systems operating here,
whether the Lightning in the picture was an F.6 or a T.5 doesn't really matter in this respect. I labelled the picture of it 'TWO' to signify that
it was the second frontline fighter called Lightning, making the F-35 the third such aircraft, making a bit of a mockery of naming it Lightning II.
To explain what I meant by two different systems it would be easiest to imagine a single type of aircraft that served with both the USAF and RAF in
identical versions. Although there have been many shared types, such as the Phantom, Hercules, C-17 etc, none has shared an identical evolution so
for this explanation I will use the F-15 as the simplest example that anyone unfamiliar with the UK system can follow. If you stick with me I hope it
will become clear why I chose this. I know the RAF never used the type, it is just to illustrate the point.
The RAF uses a role letter and a mark number to denote a variant where the USAF uses a type letter & number ID followed by a mark letter. For example
If the RAF had bought the F-15A for its new fighter in the 70's it would have gone into service as the 'Eagle F.1' denoting the first model in
service as a fighter version.
The F-15B trainer would then become the 'Eagle T.2' meaning 'second version, trainer'. This would make the upgraded F-15C the 'Eagle F.3' and
its associated trainer version the 'Eagle T.4'. The switch to ground attack for the F-15E would bring a change in letter as it is neither a trainer
nor a fighter variant so it would become the 'Eagle GR.5', denoting 'ground attack and reconnaissance' but the 5 denotes the fifth variant in use,
the mark number progresses in sequence for every new variant regardless of role. This shows how the US and UK system work in relation to each other so
the number on a UK aircraft has no bearing on whether it is the first or second *type* of aircraft to bear the name but only which serving version it
is of a single type.
In fact the UK does not use the I or II at all in its designations, the Typhoon, for instance is not the Typhoon II. The original Harrier was a
1920's biplane but the Harrier II designation for the jump jet was not used until the AV-8B version was created, and even then only in the USA, the
UK version of the AV-8B entering service simply as the Harrier GR.5 (with the AV-8A being the GR.1, the GR.3 had no US equivalent).
If the UK retains the 'Lightning' name for the F-35B then it will simply drop the II from it and apply a mark number. If the F-35B is the only
version we buy (likely but not definitely decided yet) it will become simply the 'Lightning GR.1' (which somehow looks completely wrong), with some
A2A capability built in this becomes 'Lightning FGR.1' OR 'FG.1' instead, it depends on the role it enters UK service in.
*IF* the RN subsequently bought the F-35C instead then it would probabl become the Lightning FA.2 and any other versions going into use would get a
role letter and mark number in sequence. Neither 'Lightning II' nor 'F-35' will see use in the UK as official designators.
That turned out to be a much longer explanation than I intended, apologies to anyone who got this far and either felt it was not worth it or learned
[edit on 8-7-2006 by waynos]