5 Photos Showing Why the U.S. Air Force Is the Most Badass in the World

The American military officially has six branches, after the creation of the Space Force not long ago. Of them all though the U.S. Air Force (USAF) is the most active, not only when it comes to military operations, but also as far as its efforts of keeping the people of the world amazed go.
F-35 Lightning and F-16 Fighting Falcon dropping bombs 6 photos
Photo: USAF/Senior Master Sgt. Kwan-Young Ho
B-2 Spirit taking offThunderbirds coming back to baseThe shooting of an F-16 Fighting FalconPave Hawk ready to hoist cargoF-35 Lightning and F-16 Fighting Falcon dropping bombs
For a long time now the USAF has made a habit of releasing a bunch of photos at the end of each week showing what its personnel and gear have been up to recently. They are always spectacular pics showing incredible machines and people, and they're very much needed, especially these days, when America needs to project its power pretty much everywhere to keep foes at bay.

Many of these images deserve a closer look because they always show machines we regular Joes will never get to experience firsthand.

And a closer look we're having now at what the USAF released at the end of last week, a bunch of pics showing types of incredible military aircraft doing their thing at the hands of their very well-trained handlers. These are, if you will, this week's top five reasons the USAF is the most impressive in the world.

Aerobatic F-16 Fighting Falcons buzz Mount Rainier

Thunderbirds coming back to base
Photo: USAF/Staff Sgt. Dakota Carter
Ever since 1953 the American skies (and at times foreign ones as well) have been the playground for a group of daredevil pilots called Thunderbirds. Now based at the Nellis Air Force in Nevada, the crew is a constant presence at air shows and aviation-related events across America, and often time makes it into the official USAF releases.

Last week the Air Force decided to share a pic of the Thunderbirds pilots and their aircraft of choice, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, as they were buzzing Mount Rainier in Washington. Somehow, the USAF managed to get a photographer in the perfect position to snap the airplanes as they flew formation with the summit of the Washington mountain as a background.

The Thunderbirds were captured in this image back in July, as they were headed back to Nellis after taking part in the JBLM Air Show and Warrior Expo at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

For the remainder of the year (meaning by November, when the air show season ends), the Thunderbirds have no less than 14 other appearances left, so plenty of chances for Americans to experience what these guys can do firsthand.

HH-60G Pave Hawk flexes its muscles during sling load training

Pave Hawk ready to hoist cargo
Photo: USAF/Staff Sgt. Darius Sostre-Miroir
We've been watching the weekly USAF releases for a while now, and when it comes to them featuring the HH-60G Pave Hawk we noticed these photos almost always show the helicopter hoisting things and humans up, or lowering them to the ground. And this image is no exception.

The Pave Hawk is a version of the Sikorsky Black Hawk, and it has been primarily envisioned as a medium-lift helo - that of course explains the many similar instances we get to see the helicopter in.

The machine can lift a total of 22,000 pounds (9,900 kilograms) at takeoff, and it does so thanks to the pair of General Electric engines that spin its blades.

In this image we see a Pave Hawk hovering over the heads of logistics soldiers as they try to attach the payload to the underbelly of the helicopter during sling load training that took place at the end of July at Patrick Space Force Base in Florida.

This approach allows the helo to lift weights greater than what it's capable of getting airborne at takeoff – an extra 8,000 pounds (3,600 kg) can be carried this way.

B-2 Spirit points its nose up in rare takeoff pic

B\-2 Spirit taking off
Photo: USAF/Senior Airman Patrick Sullivan
One of the members of America's Bomber Trifecta (alongside the B-1B Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress) is the B-2 Spirit. It is also the most alien-looking of them all, thanks to its flying wing configuration, low profile, and long body,

America has had the Spirit since the late 1980s, meaning quite recently, and not many of them have been sent on active duty since they began flying missions in the late 1990s (there are just 20 of them). That makes any and every instance of the plane in action quite spectacular and reason for aviation enthusiasts to rejoice.

Last week the USAF treated us with a pic of the bomber as it departed Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska in mid-July. The plane was leaving at the time on a combat training exercise.

Fighter jets can drop bombs too

F\-35 Lightning and F\-16 Fighting Falcon dropping bombs
Photo: USAF/Senior Master Sgt. Kwan-Young Ho
We the uninitiated often see the likes of the F-35A Lightning II and the F-16 Fighting Falcon as fighter jets. We imagine them shooting off rockets into the distance, to chase away or bring down some unseen enemy aircraft, or to strike some ground target far far away.

But both of them can carry bombs as well, and quite a large variety of them, from combined effect munitions to small diameter and even nuclear ones. Because they very rarely though make it over enemy territory to drop such things, we rarely see these planes doing bomb runs.

Yet exactly a glimpse of that is what we get here, in this USAF pic showing the F-35 flying alongside the F-16 as they both release munitions from their underside.

The photo was snapped during a live-fire training exercise that took place over South Korean waters at the end of July. The F-35 belongs to the South Korean Air Force, while the F-16 is flown by America's Air Force.

F-16 Fighting Falcon gets shot and we get to see how

The shooting of an F\-16 Fighting Falcon
Photo: USAF/Senior Airman Zachary Rufus
Given how the USAF often releases images of its aircraft in action, we're used to enjoying them in incredible stills. Yet not always do we get a behind-the-scenes look at how these images are shot.

The pic we have here shows an airman with the 57th Wing pointing a camera at an F-16 Fighting Falcon as it takes off from the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. The camera was there to capture the plane in action as it headed off for the Red Flag 23-3 exercise which took place at the base.

We're yet to see the video that was captured on that camera, but given how the exercise was centered around "defensive counter-air, offensive counter-air suppression of enemy air defenses and offensive counter-air-to-air interdiction" we expect some really interesting images to come out of it.

So there you have it, the most interesting pics released last week by the USAF, all of them showing just how impressive America's flying arsenal is. Stay tuned next week for more of the same.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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