The F-35 has been around as long as global warming. The aircraft had its origin in the Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) program started by the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy in 1993. The word “Strike” in the designation of this program indicates that it was oriented toward developing a light bomber. The following year, the JAST program absorbed the Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter program and a separate short take-off/vertical landing program. This became the Joint Strike Fighter program, with the aim of producing a common airframe and engine across the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marine Corps. This aircraft was claimed to be 20 percent cheaper to acquire and operate than legacy aircraft such as the F-16. That was the intent. Lockheed Martin won the flyoff against Boeing in 2001.
Many years then passed. The production prototype F-35 first flew in 2006.