True to its years-long habit, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) keeps releasing incredible stills of the hardware it deploys around the world. This time, we’re treated with an F-35A Lightning II deployed with the 158th Fighter Wing of the Vermont Air National Guard. It is seen here departing the South Burlington base in the same state where its home is.
The plane is going out not in search of survivors, but on a daily training mission called for by the fighter wing’s habit of keeping up to ten aircraft ready for duty at any time. In doing so, it becomes, once more for this incredible piece of engineering, a perfect fit for our Photo of the Day section.
The 158th, and more specifically its 134th Fighter Squadron (aka Green Mountain Boys) were the first Air National Guard unit to field the F-35A. It is also the unit whose F-16 Fighting Falcons were sent on patrol over New York in the hours following the 9/11 attacks.
Technically speaking, the F-35A is the USAF version of the very young stealth combat fighter. It was introduced in 2016, and at 28,999 lbs (13,154 kg) empty, it is the lightest of the three variants (the other two are the Marine Corps F-35B and the Navy F-35C).
It is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney engine that can take it to speeds of Mach 1.6 and altitudes of 50,000 ft (15,000 m). Guns, missiles, and bombs make up for the deadly arsenal of this incredible beast.