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Mitsubishi Viper Zeros Manage to Eclipse F-35s and a Stratofortress in Rare USAF Photo

The modern world gives us plenty of opportunities to see military aircraft in action. Given how the modern world is a largely peaceful one, most of the time we get to see military aircraft flying solo, or at least in very small gangs. But that’s not what we see here.
B-52H Stratofortress, F-35s and Mitsubishi F-2s over the Pacific 12 photos
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If you have the patience to count them all, you’ll see there are no less than twelve aircraft in this pic, a sight one only gets to experience in war movies, or if lucky enough, as an observer of large military exercises. And that’s exactly what we have here, an exercise.

Back at the beginning of December, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) staged a mammoth drill in the Pacific Ocean. Called Operation Iron Dagger, the get-together was meant to signal “the continuing effort to support the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s dynamic force employment concept through agile combat employment.” Or, in words we can all understand, a whole lot of military hardware being used for war games.

The impressive formation of aircraft seen here is led by an American B-52H Stratofortress, that seven decades-old piece of hardware that thanks to the continuous upgrades it receives still causes fear to manifest itself in the hearts of America’s enemies.

Accompanying it, and positioned aft and to the left in the direction of the flight, are no less than seven F-35A Lightning IIs, making for one of the largest formations of such fifth-generation aircraft we’ve seen in the sky in official USAF images.

To the right, we get four Japanese aircraft, in this case, Mitsubishi F-2s, a breed we don’t get the chance to talk about all that much. Developed by the Japanese company together with Lockheed Martin back in the 1990s, these things are so rare any sight of them is bound to cause some emotion: just under 100 have been made to date.

Based on the F-16 Fighting Falcon, more precisely the low-cost and scrapped Agile Falcon variant, they’re being used solely by the Japanese.

Nicknamed Viper Zero, which is a mating of the nickname for the F-16 and the moniker used by Japanese planes of World War II, they are single-seaters powered by a single General Electric powerplant that give them a top speed of Mach 2, and pack all the modern weapons arsenal one would expect from an aircraft of this caliber: cannons, rockets, and air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles.

Editor's note: Gallery shows other F-2s.

 
 
 
 
 

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