Take a look at these photos of “shock collars” forming around an F-35 during an airshow

Stunning photographs of vapour cones generated by the RNlAF F-35s during “Luchtmachtdagen 2016” airshow.

On Jun. 10, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter made its international airshow debut with an Air Power Demo performed during an airshow at Leeuwarden Air Base, in the Netherlands.

The first two Dutch F-35A aircraft, AN-1 (F-001) and AN-2 (F-002), simulated a series of attacks on the airfield and conducted some high-speed passes that were made particularly interesting because of the condensation clouds that appeared around the JSF: known as shock collar or vapour cone, these cloud are generated by a sudden drop in pressure associated with high speed that allows water vapour to condense as vapour.

Although many believe that these clouds appear when aircraft “break” the sound barrier, they can appear when the planes fly at subsonic speed, in humid air.

The photographs in this post were taken at Leeuwarden by The Aviationist’s Jacek Siminski.

F-35 condensation cloud


About David Cenciotti 4450 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance 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 four books.


  1. The F-35 seemed to obese to be a good looking aircraft when they first started flying. Now the look has grown on me. I just wish the F-35A was operational and they were past the LRIP stage. It looks like it will be a good, but not great, replacement for the F-16. But it will always be too expensive for what we are getting.

  2. I wish you would load the hi-res images to your posts, David. These photos make for wonderful desktop backgrounds if we could download them.

  3. I hope you are right, veej. Full rate production will be coming up in a couple years and I hope that the price of the F-35 continues to drop. I don’t think comparing the fly away cost of an F-35 to the purchase price including spares and training is accurate. From what I have read, the F-35A flyway cost, with engine but no spares or training costs, is around $108Mn this year. The Eurofighter flyaway cost, w engine but no spares or training, is around $120Mn.
    Hopefully the fact that the F-35 isn’t in full production yet while the Eurofighter has been for a while means that the F-35 prices will continue to drop, with the F-35A perhaps getting to a flyaway cost, w engine but no spares or training, of $95Mn. The Eurofighter will probably stay the same price or rise with inflation.
    But given the confusing way the aircraft builders release info, it is really hard to say what is the price of the aircraft. I just wish the Block 4 software for the F-35 would arrive sooner rather than later.

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