While all manner of strange and quirky craft have taken to the skies for the annual Paris air show, a a rare aerobatic display from the American F-35 has wowed crowds – and sent NATO a clear message.
Lockheed Martin today revealed footage of the incredible flights, which are being carried out daily at the show.
The six-minute flight features a full power takeoff showing off its 40,000 pounds of thrust, steep climbs, and the tightest possible turns, and is designed to head off doubts over the controversial jet’s ability to dogfight.
Scroll down for more video
‘After 10 years since first flight, with our first opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities and the maneuverability of the F-35, we are going to crush years of misinformation about what this aircraft is capable of doing,’ Lockheed Martin test pilot Billie Flynn said in an interview with Aviation Week.
In an Associated Press interview at the opening Monday of the Paris Air Show, Brigadier General Select Todd Canterbury said the displays of the new jet are to ‘showcase the capability to all of our European partners and NATO allies’ and ‘to reassure them that we are committed to NATO 100 percent and that we have got the capability to respond to any action necessary.’
Canterbury, director of the Air Force F-35 Integration Office at the Pentagon, also spoke about recent problems that grounded F-35s at Luke Airforce Base in Arizona.
U.S. President Donald Trump has called NATO obsolete and excoriated European allies last month for not spending enough on their own defenses.
THE INCREDIBLE F-35 PARIS SHOW
The flight demonstration starts with an afterburner takeoff, almost immediately pointing the nose to the sky and letting the aircraft climb away essentially vertically.
This impressive move is unique to the F-22 and the F-35, the pilot says.
Next, the F35 will reverse back in front of the crowd, and perform a ‘square loop’ to show the aircraft’s instantaneous pitch capability and high angle-of-attack (AOA) maneuverability.
It then turns around, reverses back in front of the crowd, and perform a slow-speed pass.
Afterwards, it lights up the afterburner and fly straight up into the sky once again.
It then pulls up vertically in front of the crowd to execute a ‘power loop,’ where the aircraft flips on its back.
Next is a spiral at 50 degrees AOA, called a ‘pedal turn.’
After reversing again in front of the crowd, the last move is a maximum-G, 360-deg. turn, which highlights the maximum-rate, minimum-radius-turn capability of the aircraft.
Since May 2, F-35 pilots on five occasions reported symptoms of hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, he said.
US military personnel escort a Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jet towards the runway at the International Paris Air Show in Le Bourget outside Paris
The Air Force says the F-35’s backup oxygen system worked in each instance, and the pilot was able to land the plane safely.
‘It could range to anything from headaches, to nausea, to color-blindness,’ he told the AP.
Planes were subsequently grounded at Luke, and only began flying again a few days ago, even though the cause of the fault has not been found.
A team of engineers, test pilots, medics and others experts are ‘digging into this problem 24 hours a day,’ to try to identify the cause, Canterbury said.
‘It could be lack of oxygen. It could be too much oxygen, too much carbon dioxide.’
After roaring off the Le Bourget airport tarmac into a vertical climb with its afterburner, the F-35 wows 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.
A Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II flies during a flight demonstration on the opening day of the 52nd Paris Air Show held at Le Bourget, north of Paris, France, 19 June 2017. The 2017 International Paris Air Show runs from 23 to 25 June
Lockheed Martin today revealed footage on the incredible flights, which are being carried out daily at the show.
There have been similar incidents ‘across a number of bases, but not in clusters like we saw at Luke.’
The local commander at Luke will decide when the planes can fly again, he said. Canterbury said the pilots will ‘start flying as soon as they can. They are ready.’
Luke is a training base for F-35 pilots. Operational units have not had such issues, he said.
U.S. servicemen gather next to a F-35 Lightning II at Paris Air Show, on the eve of its opening, in Le Bourget, east of Paris, France, Sunday, June 18, 2017. While Airbus and Boeing will again hog the spotlight at the Paris Air Show with their battle for ever-larger slices of the lucrative pie in the sky, a lot of the really interesting stuff will be going on elsewhere at next week’s massive biennial aviation and defense industry gathering.
‘It’s still too early to tell the root cause,’ he said. ‘An airplane in development, such as this, will have teething problems.’
The F-35 flew briefly at the Farnborough Air Show last year but this year in Paris it will have its debut aerial demonstrations.
The daily aerobatic shows by the F-35 promise to be spectacular, punctuated by the howl of its 40,000 pounds of thrust.
French President Emmanuel Macron (2-L) listens to Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier (C) while visiting the Paris Air Show. Macron landed at the Bourget airfield in an Airbus A400-M military transport plane to launch the aviation showcase, the Paris Air show, running from 19 – 25 June 2017,ø where the latest Boeing and Airbus passenger jets will vie for attention with a F-35 warplane, drones and other and high-tech hardware. EPA/MICHEL EULER / POOL MAXPPP OUT
French President Emmanuel Macron exits the cockpit of a Rafale jet fighter helped by Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier (R) while visiting the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, north of Paris, France, 19 June 2017.
F-35 FACT SHEET
Role: Stealth multirole fighter
First flight: December 15, 2006
Unit cost (not including engine):
F-35A – $98million
F-35B – $104million
F-35C – $116million
Number built: 115 (as of November 2014)
Max speed (F-35A): 1,930kph
‘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.
FILE – In this Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, file photo, an F-35 jet arrives at its new operational base at Hill Air Force Base, in northern Utah. Airbus and Boeing will again hog the spotlight at the Paris Air Show with their battle for ever-larger slices of the lucrative pie in the sky. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)