USAF Announces F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team To Debut In 2019

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USAF F-35A Lightning II - AirshowStuff

Airshow fans can look forward to a new jet demo on the airshow circuit next year!

Air Combat Command announced today that the F-35A Lightning II group will be upgraded from a “Heritage Flight Team” to a full-up “Demonstration Team” to bring it in line with the other US Air Force single-ship demo teams which fly the F-22 Raptor, A-10 Thunderbolt II, and F-16 Fighting Falcon.

ACC actually leaked the news a bit early by posting the team’s new “Demo Team” patch on their website a couple weeks ago. We embargoed the news at the team’s request and the patch was quickly taken down pending the official announcement.

The 2019 demonstration pilot will be Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson, who flew as the team’s display pilot in 2018 and earned rave reviews for his flybys.

Fans have been asking about an F-35A demo for years. The USAF F-35 Heritage Team began performing in 2016. Instead of jumping straight to an aerobatic routine with the brand new aircraft, the performance was limited to performing Heritage Flights and some non-aerobatic solo flybys. Now, with a few years of airshow experience and a more mature aircraft, the team is being allowed to turn it loose and show off more dynamic maneuvers.

“The past year’s demonstration was sort of like an ‘appetizer’ if you will,” said Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson, F-35 Demonstration Team pilot and commander. “The new profile this year will be the full ‘five-course meal’ showing fans everything this jet is capable of.”

According to Olson, the new 13 minute-long profile will highlight the F-35A Lightning II’s numerous capabilities to include speed, agility, and high-G turning.

“What makes the fifth generation fighter so special in general is the slow-speed, high angle of attack maneuvering it can do,” Olson said. “We’re also going to be performing controlled flat spins while falling out of the sky as well as high-speed passes and vertical climbs.”

Lockheed Martin test pilot Billie Flynn finally put the F-35A through its paces at the 2017 Paris Airshow, and many expected that it signaled a military demonstration would follow. In fact, reports from that time indicated the Air Force was working closely with Lockheed on establishing the routine in preparation for launching this demo team in 2018. That obviously didn’t happen, but the team’s flybys have gotten more aggressive with time. This is a very exciting development – the first new jet demonstration since the F-22 Raptor debuted over 10 years ago.

Wondering where you can see the F-35 next year? Luckily, the F-35 Demonstration Team’s 2019 schedule was also made public today!

Stay tuned to AirshowStuff for more details on this exciting new performance and be sure to add your thoughts on the news in our forums!

F-35 Lightning II Approved For Extra Flybys During 2018 Airshow Performances

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USAF F-35 Lightning II

You’ll see a little bit more of the F-35 Lightning II this airshow season! We took a peek in the 2018 Air Combat Command support manual, and noticed that the F-35 Heritage Flight team is approved for a three-pass “mini-demo” at its performances this year!

NOTE: The F-35 profile will include three non-aerobatic solo passes, most likely before the first HF formation pass, for consistency between HF performances.

This is a bit of a let down for those who followed the rumors that the US Air Force’s F-35 would be upgraded to a full aerobatic demonstration after Lockheed Martin debuted an aerobatic profile at the Paris Airshow last year. However, it shows that the program is getting closer to a full-up demo.

In the mean time, we can look forward to an extra few passes from the jet at each airshow performance. There are no specifics on what the three flybys will be, but such mini-demos in the past have consisted of a photo pass, a high speed pass, and a slow speed/high alpha pass. The F-4 Phantoms flew this profile back when they were a part of the Heritage Flight, and both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Fighting Falcon teams did the same prior to being reinstated to full aerobatic status. This year marks the A-10s first year back to an aerobatic profile.

The F-35 was added to the Heritage Flight program in 2016, and it has been limited to HF performances in the two seasons since. The aircraft typically takes off and immediately joins the formation, offering a solo flyby or two after the formation breaks apart. Most recently the F-35 has been performing a high speed pass and a pitch to land following the Heritage Flight. Along with the mini-demo, we could be looking at five solo flybys by the F-35.

WATCH: Lightning Strikes Oshkosh! F-35 Lightning II Arrival And Flybys

posted in: Featured Videos, Military | 0

Lightning Strikes Twice!

Check out this awesome video from AirshowStuff.com where two USAF F-35A Lightning II aircraft perform multiple low approaches during the first-ever EAA AirVenture display of the F-35! You’ll get to see the two Lightnings fly by multiple times. And where there’s lightning, there’s always thunder! You’ll almost *feel* the thunder of the engines as these two unique aircraft fly past. Watch as the vapor comes off the wingtips as they pull around for another pass and examine the angles and lines of this awesome fifth-generation USAF fighter. And finally, you’ll get a close-up look at them as they land and taxi past you, all in HD!

The F-35 Lightning II is designed to perform multiple missions, from strike and attack missions to air defense. The F-35A is the Air Force’s version, and this was the first time that the F-35s were brought out for display at the massive EAA AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh. While plagued with various issues and cost overruns throughout its development, there’s no denying that the F-35 is an exciting aircraft to see ripping up the skies over and over again, so turn up the sound, put the video on full screen mode, and enjoy watching lightning striking twice!

Be sure to subscribe to the AirshowStuffVideos channel on YouTube for more great videos.

-Justin Miner

F-35 Lightning II Afterburner FlybyF-35 Lightning II Head On

First F-35A Lightning II Aerobatic Performance Planned For 2017 Paris Airshow; USAF Demos To Follow In 2018

posted in: Airshows, Military | 0

USAF and Lockheed Martin plan F-35 Demos for 2018

The United States Air Force and Lockheed Martin are reportedly starting to develop an aerobatic demonstration routine with their newest fighter jet, the F-35A Lightning II, for the 2018 airshow season. They have been developing the routine and practicing it in the simulator this year, and they are ready to begin practice flights at their F-35 production facility in Fort Worth.

Most of us will have to wait until 2018 to see the demo, but those attending the 2017 Paris Airshow will actually see the first performance. The Air Force says they will “build our demonstration profile based on the experiences and lessons learned from F-35 participation in other airshows and the Lockheed Martin demonstration at the 2017 Paris Air Show.”

The F-35 Heritage Flight Team stood up at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona in 2016. The team performed at 15 airshows in 2016 and is scheduled to perform at 14 airshows in 2017. It has not been announced where the demonstration team would be based out of, but the Heritage Team operates out of Luke AFB in Arizona. We’ll provide more information as we learn it.

Atlantic Trident 2017 Exercise Combines Eurofighters, Rafales, And Raptors To Strengthen Ties Between Allies

posted in: Event Recap, Military | 0

French Air Force Rafale - Atlantic Trident 2017

After entering World War I on the 6th of April 1917, the United States’ participation in Europe led down a path of air power that resulted in our current day United States Air Force. On 5 May 1918, the American Expeditionary Force in Europe activated the 1st Pursuit Group at Gencoult, France. Commanded by Major Bert M. Atkinson, this unit was the first American group-level fighter organization and is now known as the 1st Fighter Wing, the Air Force’s oldest Wing. The 1st Pursuit Group consisted of five Aero Squadrons: 27th, 94th, 95th, 147th, and 185th. Of these five, the 27th and the 94th remain part of the wing to this day, and ensure air dominance with their F-22 Raptors.

During combat throughout Europe, the pilots of the 1st Pursuit Group conducted over 1,400 aerial engagements and accumulated 202 confirmed aerial victories. The 27th Aero Squadron’s 2nd Lieutenant Frank Luke Jr. achieved 18 aerial victories before he was shot down and killed while engaging the enemy on the ground on 29 September 1918. For his actions, Luke received the Air Force’s first ever Medal of Honor. The 94th Fighter Squadron’s Captain Eddie Rickenbacker achieved 26 aerial victories, more than any other American pilot in WWI. While on patrol on 25 September 1918, Rickenbacker engaged seven enemy planes on his own, destroying two, and was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his gallantry against the enemy. On 10 November 1918, the day before the war ended, Major Maxwell Kirby of the 94th Aero Squadron recorded the last aerial victory of WWI. Throughout the war, the 1st Pursuit Group remained constantly engaged with the enemy in the skies over the battlefields and earned eight campaign credits.

Royal Air Force Typhoon - Atlantic Trident 2017USAF F-22 Raptor - Atlantic Trident 2017

It was during WWI that the Air Forces of the three countries participating in Atlantic Trident 2017, namely the US, France, and Great Britain, began building a relationship that has lasted 100 years. The 27th Aero Squadron’s origins are tied closely to the Royal Flying Corps of the British Army. The 27th received its advanced aerial training from British instructors in Canada before deploying to Europe. In addition, the commander of the squadron when they entered the war was Major Harold E. Hartney, a former Royal Flying Corps veteran who had already flown in combat and been shot down by Baron Manfred von Richthofen. The British cultural influence and training helped make the 27th one of the most lethal American squadrons during the war with 56 confirmed aerial victories.

Atlantic Trident 2017 is not only a multi-national training exercise but a celebration of the alliance the UK, France, and United States maintain. The 2017 exercise includes French Rafales, Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4s from the UK, as well as home-based F-22 Raptors, F-35As from Eglin AFB in Florida, and F-15E Strike Eagles from Mountain Home AFB in Idaho. The Strike Eagles got the opportunity to team up with Langley T-38 Talons to serve as the bad guys, or “red air”.

French Air Force Rafale - Atlantic Trident 2017Patrouille de France - Atlantic Trident 2017

To help commemorate this anniversary, the base hosted a media day and small airshow during the exercise. The morning consisted of a USAF F-22 Raptor demonstration followed by a French Air Force Rafale demonstration. The Patrouille de France finished it up with their aerobatic performance. Following the demonstrations, we were given the chance to interview the crews from the demonstrations and then visit the alert hangars for a static display that included all the exercise aircraft. The day finished up with a mass launch of 24 aircraft for the only planned sortie of the day; quite a lot of military metal in the skies over eastern Virginia!

We would like to extend our gratitude to Jeff Hood, Maj. Whitlatch and everyone at the 633d Air Base Wing, Joint Base Langley-Eustis for going above and beyond to make this day happen.

Photos courtesy of guest contributor Andy Backowski.

USAF F-15E Strike Eagle - Atlantic Trident 2017USAF F-35A Lightning II - Atlantic Trident 2017

F-35 Lightning II To Race At Reno; Biplane Class Expected To Provide Tough Competition

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USAF F-35A Lightning II

The Biplane Class will have a tough new kid on the block to compete with at this year’s Reno Air Races. The United States Air Force has arranged special permission for one of its new F-35 Lightning II fighters to enter the race in an effort to shed the jet’s reputation as unmaneuverable, slow, and a colossal waste of money. The jet was originally intended to race in the headlining Unlimited Class, but after several practice runs it became clear that it would simply not be competitive. Race organizers felt it would be unsafe to force the Unlimited pilots to overtake the $113 million stealth fighter at such a high rate of speed, and approved the appearance only on the condition that the F-35 would compete with aircraft of a similar speed. The Biplane Class typically features similar lap times, so that is where the jet will compete.

This could easily be seen as another black mark on the program’s record, but the Air Force and the aircraft’s manufacturer are quick to point out that air race performance of the current F-35 fleet is limited by the installed software package. Program representatives say that a $45 million dollar air-racing software upgrade designed for this year’s event is currently in testing and should be ready some time in 2037. Nevertheless, the F-35 is expected to compete for a top ten finish amongst the biplanes. “It’s great for the class,” race pilot Chet Whabnoski told AirshowStuff, “because it will draw a lot of attention to the underappreciated biplanes. At the same time, the top pilots in the class don’t really have to worry about losing. It’s a win for everyone! Except the F-35 of course.”

2016 F-35A Lightning II Heritage Flight Schedule Released

posted in: Airshows, Military, Schedules | 3

USAF F-35 Lightning II

As we’ve reported previously, 2016 is an exciting time for F-35 fans because the aircraft will be introduced to the public as part of the USAF Heritage Flight program this year. At select show sites, an F-35 Lightning II will join in formation with the F-22, F-16, and/or one or more warbirds to honor the Air Force’s heritage. The 2016 airshows that will feature this incredible sight are listed below, as released by the US Air Force. Other variants of the jet will also make airshow appearances, including in the UK. No matter what your stance is on this polarizing fighter, in our opinion it’s always great to have new additions to the Heritage Flight!

Will you see the F-35 in 2016? Let us know! Post on our Facebook page page and make sure you share pictures after the show!

Also check out the 2016 USAF F-22 Demonstration Team schedule and 2016 USAF F-16 Demonstration Team schedule!

2016 Appearance Schedule

March
11-13 Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ (Static)

April
2-3 – Luke AFB, AZ (HF)
9-10 – Lakeland, FL (Static)
22-24 – Langley AFB, VA (HF)

May
7-8 – Ft Lauderdale, FL (HF)
28-29 – Jones Beach, NY (HF)

June
18-19 – Ocean City, MD (HF)
25-26 – Hill AFB, UT (HF and Static)

July
8-17 – RIAT/Farnborough, United Kingdom (HF and Static)

August
19-21 – Chicago, IL (HF)

September
3-5 – Cleveland, OH (HF)
14-18 – Reno, NV (Static)

October
14 – Air Force Memorial, DC (HF)
14-16 – Baltimore, MD (HF)
15-16 – Fort Worth, TX (Static)
22-23 – Houston, TX (Static)

November
12-13 – Nellis AFB, NV (HF)