That’s how working days for the pilot of this airplane look like. He (or she) is on the payroll of the 494th Fighter Squadron, a unit set up in 1941 and currently deployed at RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdom.
Tasked with protecting America’s and its allies’ interests in the region, the members of the 494th routinely fly Strike Eagles for a living, and the main photo of this piece, taken at the beginning of the month, is a perfect example of how a working day kicks off for them: with the afterburners of the twin Pratt & Whitney engines at full throttle, weapons attached to the hardpoints, and the beast soaring to the sky.
The Strike Eagle is a relatively common “company car” for the American Air Force, with over 500 of them made since they were introduced in the late 1980s. The 494th, which goes by the name Panthers, got them in 1992, when they replaced the then existing F-111s Aardvark.
In the case of this particular unit, the plane is not used solely as a ground attack airplane, as it was originally intended, but also for interdiction and air superiority missions.
The plane you see here is not flying into some combat, but in this case, it goes for a training mission, according to the U.S. Air Force.