[Photo] Two Lightnings fly together: F-35A and P-38 over Luke Air Force Base

On Mar. 14, 2014, Luke Air Force Base hosted a ceremony for the arrival of the first F-35 (Tail Number LF 5030), the 5th generation stealth fighter that will equip the 56th Fighter Wing.

“The F-35 Lightning II represents the future of tactical aviation for the United States and our allies.” With these words, U.S. Air Force Gen. Robin Rand, Commander, Air Education and Training Command, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas accepted the first of 144 F-35As to be delivered to the 56th FW.

Rand remarked that the arrival of the first Luke’s F-35 is a milestone for the Joint Strike Fighter Program and for the base itself because “this program is built on a foundation of unprecedented international partnership that is embodied at the integrated training center at Luke AFB. Together, we will train the next generation of pilots who will protect freedom at home and abroad.”

Built and developed to replace a wide variety of aircraft such as the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps plus other several types of fourth generation aircraft in numerous air forces worldwide, “the F-35 Lightning II will provide the USAF and international partners a decisive edge over its adversaries” said Lockheed Martin F-35 program general manager Lorraine Martin.

To celebrate this achievement, following the F-35 delivery ceremony, an example of World War II P-38 Lightning fighter took the skies over Luke Air Force base alongside with an F-35 Lightning II performing a typical heritage flyby to celebrate Lockheed legacy between these namesake machines.

Name aside, considering that the Lightning II is still affected by several problems, the question is: will the F-35 able to replicate the success of its predecessor?

Image credit: Lockheed Martin


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  1. Ah, the fork tailed devil. One of my favorite american WWII designs, one of the few heavy fighters of the war that could tangle with single engine fighters without being decimated (even though it did suffer at the hands of the Luftwaffe). Initially it was more failure than success but it came around and proved itself to be a powerful war bird. Unfortunately for the F-35, in a major scale modern war you probably won’t have the time to fix the flaws and bugs of the design before the whole thing is over and done.

  2. P-38s one of my favs. 40 years ago at Reno Air Races folks on the roof of the motorhome next to ours jumped OFF cause the late Great Lefty Garner’s P-38 White Lightnin’ was sooooo Loooow as he passed!! P-38 one of the most unique US designs of the era. Right time right place. And of course it took down IJN Admiral Yamamoto. Always liked that as I was based at HNL for 20 some years.

  3. WOOHOO..Spitfire Mk Ia N3200 flew again in Duxford on 26 March 2014, flown by John Romain. It was assigned to S/L Geoffrey Stephenson who was shot down over Dunkirk in May 1940, and spent the war in captivity. Stephenson ended in the infamous Colditz castle, where he was part of the team who designed and built a glider in an escape attempt. After the war, Stephenson was King George VI’s personal pilot and was killed in 1954 flying the F-100 Super Sabre.

    N3200 was exhumed in 1986 and spent a few years on display in a French museum before being sold to the UK in 2000. Its restoration began in 2007 and was made by Historic Flying Ltd. It is the fourth Spitfire Mk. I to take to the air agai, and the only Mk I of the three based in Duxford to have actually been based there in wartime.

  4. When you build a “jack of all trades” type of aircraft or this statement can be applied to pretty much any type of military or civilian piece of machinery/equipment you end up with a “master of none”.

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