F-35 Lightning Flexes USAF Muscles Where Few Can See It, Watches Over Europe

With all the nasty things currently going on over in Europe, the constant presence of American aircraft in the sky must come like a comforting and reassuring blessing for the people there. And the American military makes no secret of it being there, although most of the time regular European Joes barely get to see signs of that presence.
F-35A Lightning II over the North Sea 22 photos
Photo: USAF/Senior Airman Kevin Long
F-35A Lightning II over the North SeaF-35A Lightning II during She Flies with Her Own Wings air showF-35 Lighting IIs over the Joint Pacific Alaskan Range Complex (JPARC)F-35 Lightning II pulling a multiverse-like stuntF-35 Lightning IIs during refueling mission42 F-35A Lightning IIs on massive elephant walkF-35 Lightning II on hot pit refueling in JapanF-35A Lightning IIs over the UKF-35A Lightning IIs on an elephant walkF-35A Lightning II with the 495th Fighter SquadronF-35A Lightning II at Thunder and Lightning Over ArizonaF-35A Lightning II on vertical ascentF-35 Lightning buzzing the CN TowerF-35A Lighting IIF-35A Lightning IIF-35 LightningF-35A Lightning IIF-35A Lightning IIF-35A Lightning IIF-35A Lightning IIF-35 Lightning cruising subsonic into the sunset
From time to time, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) does show what it’s up to, just to make sure both friends and foes haven’t forgotten about Uncle Sam watching over the Old Continent. It sends its aircraft out, snaps pics of it, and then releases them for all of us to see.

The image we have here, showing an F-35A Lightning II deployed with the 48th Fighter Wing, which is based at RAF Lakenheath in the UK, serves exactly that purpose: impress and deter.

The highly detailed shot of the American fighter plane, revealing every hint of muscle the bird packs, was taken back in May, when it was flying a refueling mission over the North Sea, alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing, based at another British base, RAF Mildenhall.

This type of aircraft is getting increased attention from allied nations as well, which scramble to update their militaries faced with the Russian aggression in Ukraine. Introduced in 2006 (the F-35A), it is currently one of just a handful of fifth-gen aircraft in operation globally, and by all intents and purposes, one of the most widespread, with over 800 units made to date by Lockheed Martin.

The multi-role fighter was originally designed to replace the F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt II in the American arsenal, but as of last year, when the USAF announced plans to streamline its fleet, both of the aging machines have been confirmed as continuing their duties at least until 2030.
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Editor's note: Gallery shows other F-35s.

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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