One of These F-35 Lightning Is Not American, You Can Hardly Tell Which

The F-35 Lightning is one of the few fifth-generation aircraft around and such a sight to behold every time it comes under the spotlight. Relatively young in the skies of the world (it had its first flight in 2006 as the F-35A), it’s already deployed in the service of several countries.
USAF and RoKAF F-35s flying together 23 photos
Photo: USAF/Senior Airman Trevor Gordnier
USAF and RoKAF F-35s flying togetherF-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
Aside for the U.S., the F-35 is being flown by the Air Forces of Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Israel, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Singapore, and the UK. Although technically slightly different, on account of the particularities of every nation, the planes look the same, and it’s almost impossible to tell them apart.

Case in point, the image we have here, snapped at the beginning of July, and recently published by the U.S. Air Force (USAF). It shows an American F-35A, accompanied by a South Korean version of the same plane, and if it weren’t for the markings on their wings, it would be impossible to tell them apart.

The plane closest to the viewer belongs to the USAF. It’s deployed with the 356th Fighter Squadron out of Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, and it’s flying here accompanied by a sibling working for the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) somewhere over the Asian nation.

These two planes, and a bunch of others, were performing back in July combined training flights on and around the Korean peninsula, and according to the USAF “pilots from both nations were able to share tactics and learn from each other, increasing the lethality of the ironclad U.S.-South Korea alliance."

That is to be expected, of course, given how the two nations have been military allies ever since 1953, when the “relationship forged in blood” was cemented. At the time of writing, close to 29,000 American soldiers work and live in Korea, in two Air Force bases, a dozen army bases, and a Navy installation.
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Editor's note: Gallery shows various 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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