Watch the video of the F-35 flying in formation (at high AOA) with the Thunderbirds

Short but interesting clip.

A couple of days ago we have commented an image that had appeared on Facebook showing a U.S. Air Force F-35A forming up with the Thunderbirds for a photo session in the skies over Ft. Lauderdale.

Even though it did not say anything special about the controversial stealth plane, some people bashed the F-35 over the cool image just because it showed the 5th generation fighter jet flying with a high AOA (Angle of Attack) close to the Thunderbirds.
The following video provides a different point of view over the same scene: taken from inside the cockpit of the F-16 #1 of the U.S. Air Force demo team, it show the F-35 keeping a “high alpha” on the Viper’s right wing, leveraging its well-known (or alleged, depending on the “party”) high AOA capabilities.Needless to say, this post is not pro or against the F-35, it’s just about an interesting footage showing two jets belonging to different generations flying together.

H/T Miguelm Mendoza for the heads-up

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. OMG look how steep the F-35 has to fly just to stay in the air with the F-16. Clearly it is about to fall out of the sky and is a world-class POS. The horror, the horror.

    • OMG yourself, that grab is from the :26 mark where the f35 is pulling out (heh) of the formation.

      I however agree, the AOA looks really high (heh) in the more relevant :06 mark.

      • 1. I was mocking the usual idiots. 2. Meh. So what if it is? If you’ve read what actual F-35 pilots have to say about it they love it. Lastly, since we don’t know what the conditions were, a few seconds of video clip are meaningless. That you’re actually getting defensive about it suggests you’re one of those who would be screaming for the F-35s cancellation if it got a flat tire. I guess we should cancel the Hornets too over than OBOGs issue eh? (Look it up.)

          • What? They aren’t paid to love it. There is absolutely no reason for them to not voice their opinions. It has never ever stopped service members from calling out a piece of equipment or training when they feel like it is compromising their ability to complete the mission or if they feel like whatever issue is needlessly risking their lives or their buddie’s lives.

            Nor are they paid well. Much less “very well.” What they get “paid” means absolutely nothing to these guys. The reward for all of their hard work is the job. There isn’t a fighter pilot alive that wouldn’t do it for free. So to sit here spewing lies is pathetic. These pilots accomplished more by the time they were 18, then you will in your entire life.

            You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. Don’t come here with these moronic lies and assumptions. You’re an embarrassment.

  2. This certainly paints a different picture. Notice how the “fat, slow, unmaneuverable” F-35 goes into a vertical climb at the end? Yeah. I guarantee an F-16 couldn’t follow…Not without punching the afterburner and even then it’s doubtful.

    Just like everything F-35, there’s a vocal group out there just desperate to slam the F-35 for anything. Like this photo, nine times outta ten it’s absolute horse shit. Wonder where all these naysayers will be when the F-35 meets and exceeds standards. Probably talking into a banana, on a conference call with Pierre Sprey, whining about how shit the jet is and how all of this is just a big conspiracy by the “MIC”. That’s military industrial complex (oooo spooky) for all of you idiots out there not smart enough to be wearing your custom hat, made out of anti-spy satellite metallic sheets.

    • It will not exceed standards: the test reports from past years stated that the max sustainable turn rate in inferior to goal values, transonic acceleration as well is slower than required, weapon bays overheat during high speed flight below 5k ft..flight sciences test gave poor results in general, it’s all written in the test reports which are public knowledge, just type on google and search for them.

      • And yet the pilots love the plane and have nothing but praise for it, with countries lining up to buy it. Try harder.

        • Why would an Air Force pilot trash talk it in public, a soldier is not supposed to openly criticize his equipment, you are a bit naive uh, born yesterday? Or paid by LM?


            To quote Norwegian F-35-pilot, Major Morten Hanche

            Critics have argued that the F-35 by definition is a slow aircraft, based on the balance between thrust from the engine and overall weight. However, when interviewed after my first flight, I said that I was impressed with the engine power of the aircraft. How can that be true? Am I bought and paid for by Lockheed Martin, or is it the Ministry of Defence that threatens government reprisals if I don’t provide «the official story»? I know that many have doubts regarding the F-35 when it comes to both maneuverability and engine power.

      • I’ve read just about everything published about the F-35…it’s my job.

        I’m telling you, most of this stuff is blown wildly out of proportion or is patently false. You don’t have to listen to me. Just wait though and remember “I told you so.”

        • I imagine in the coming years crows are going to become an endangered species with all the people eating them. ;-)

  3. It really doesn’t matter if it is at a higher Alpha. THE MAIN QUESTIONS ARE: Would you rather have a jet that is brand new, has a very small RCS, state of the art avionics and sensors OR a jet that is from FY 92 (Block 52’s), general design dates back to the mid 1970’s, has a far larger RCS, older avionics, and has limited air-frame time remaining?

    I grew up in the mid/late 1980’s with Block 10/15 F-16A and Block 30 F-16C Vipers flying over my house in the pattern (currently we have A-10’s). I love the Viper, it is my favorite jet next to the Phantom II. But everyone on this site does not get the main point of the problem: THE TEEN SERIES JETS ARE OLD!!!!!

    We do not yet know the true capabilities of the F-35 in WVR, I am willing to bet they will remain classified for years. But the point is even if the F-35 cannot turn like an F-16, it has a QUANTUM LEAP in sensors, avionics, SA, and RCS. And the air-frames are BRAND NEW-

  4. The F-35, when coupled with well-trained pilots and motivated maintainers, will probably end up being able to do everything they say it will, and then some…but it costs TOO DAMN MUCH for what it does. We’re spending money we don’t have for a gold-plated platform that will be only able to drop guided munitions on bad guys with about the same performance as an F-16, or a drone, no matter its performance at high angles of attack.

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