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These Exact Fighter Planes Had Only One Shot to Fly Together, And They Took It

For a variety of reasons, the American military has ample opportunity to bring together a variety of aircraft in the air, in the strangest of combinations. From training missions to combat sorties, today’s world offers plenty chances for rare encounters. But for the 96th Test Wing, the formation you see here was a one-time only deal.
Formation of five test fighter planes over Florida 7 photos
Formation of five test fighter planes over FloridaFormation of five test fighter planes over FloridaFormation of five test fighter planes over FloridaFormation of five test fighter planes over FloridaFormation of five test fighter planes over FloridaFormation of five test fighter planes over Florida
The 96th Test Wing, headquartered at the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, is the one in charge with test flying and evaluating new U.S. Air Force (USAF) hardware, from airplanes to weapons. Given how the USAF is now engaged in an all out modernization effort, we’ve talked about these guys before.

Now they come back into the spotlight thanks to a stunt they pulled back in January, and made public this month by the military branch: the first and last come-together of all five fighters in the test wing’s inventory.

So, the stunning images we have in the attached gallery show the F-15EX Eagle II, the F-15E Strike Eagle, the F-15C Eagle, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and the A-10 Thunderbolt II, as they flew over Eglin and the Emerald Coast at the end of Janury.

According to the 40th Flight Test Squadron, who actually flew the planes, this was the only opportunity the unit had to take the planes to the sky at the same time. That’s because some of the planes are brand new (the Eagle II was delivered to Eglin in April 2021), and the A-10 was only there for three weeks for smart weapons integration testing.

“From a historical perspective, I think it’s a good image to capture the ‘changing of the guard’ in flight test from F-15C to F-15EX and the unique nature of test squadrons operating multiple aircraft,” said in a statement Col. Douglas Creviston, 96th Operations Group commander.

 
 
 
 
 

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