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F-35 Lightnings Fly Like They Mean Business, Can You See That Pilot Wave?

Being one of very few fifth-generation fighter aircraft in operation must be really something for the F-35 Lightning. That must be even more so for the pilots flying them, an ever-increasing number, if we judge by the pace at which the U.S. Air Force (USAF) modernizes its fleet.
F-35 Lightning IIs during refueling mission 18 photos
F-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
At the rate things are going, the number of F-35s in operation, especially the ones in American hands, will quickly surpass that of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the most successful modern fighter aircraft there ever was, at least as far as numbers made go.

Back in February, we’ve seen just how fast the manufacturing of components for the F-35 is going, with one of the suppliers of components for the plane, BAE Systems, announcing the production of the 3,000th vehicle management computer (VMC), and 1,000 active inceptor system (AIS).

The USAF made no secret of the fact this machine will form the backbone of its fleet, with a total of over 1,700 F-35A variants being planned to enter service over the next few years. The F-35 came to be in 2006, but was only ready for service in 2016 for the USAF, which makes the rapid pace of deployment even more extraordinary.

The F-35 quickly rose to star status among military aviators, and it’s commonly featured in the USAF’s releases. One of the most recent adventures of the plane family was snapped on camera in mid-April, and recently released by the military branch.

It’s the main image of this piece we’re talking about, showing two F-35A Lightning IIs deployed with the 48th Fighter Wing, which is stationed at the British base in Lakenheath, as they were headed over the North Sea for a refueling mission. Alongside them flew a KC-135 Stratotanker of the 100th Air Refueling Wing from RAF Mildenhall in the same country, and that provided the perfect platform for this Photo of the Day to be taken.

We not only get to see the two birds in their natural environment, looking all serious and deadly, but also the pilot of the closest one, as he waves happily for the camera.

Editor's note: Gallery shows other F-35s.


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