“This is a beastly airplane,” said chief F-35 test pilot Alan Norman.
After roaring off the Le Bourget airport tarmac into a vertical climb with its afterburner, the F-35 will wow with a series of loops and gravity defying moves, showing maneuverability so catlike it can turn corners so sharp that it seems to carve squares in the sky. It will also show its ability to slow down to a crawl — a trick that can force pursuers to fly past and become the hunted and which Tom Cruise famously showed off in Top Gun.
Eight countries are partners of the program and are taking F-35s: the U.K., Australia, Italy, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Canada, and Turkey.
Three other nations have bought F-35s: Japan, Israel and South Korea.
Canterbury said Germany, Belgium and Singapore have requested information about the F-35, a potential first step toward possible purchases.