Take a look at the hovering F-35B through a high definition thermal imager

A FLIR 380-HDc thermal imager has captured this cool footage of the F-35B during the display at the Farnborough International Air Show.

Last month we published a screenshot taken by an IR camera of a crime fighting helicopter that filmed an F-22 Raptor on the ground at RAF Fairford where the radar-evading 5th generation aircraft had deployed to take part in the Royal International Air Tattoo airshow.

The footage in this post shows the heat signature of another stealthy (and quite controversial) aircraft, the Lockheed Martin F-35B, the STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) of the Joint Strike Fighter.

Pretty cool, isn’t it?

The video was filmed by Star SAFIRE 380-HDc a compact, high performance, stabilized, HD imaging systems specifically engineered for helicopter.

According to FLIR, the manufacturer of the Star SAFIRE 380-HDc and a leader in such systems, the camera “provides an unmatched SWaP-C advantage for airborne applications that demand high performance ISR [Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance] in a light-weight, compact package. Specifically tailored to excel at long range performance under extreme rotary aircraft conditions.”

Needless to say, the IR signature of the F-35B during hovering is impressive.

The heat signature of a LO (Low Observability) aircraft is also what IRST (Infra Red Search and Track) sensors of a “legacy” unstealthy aircraft will seek during an aerial engagement against a stealth plane.

Image credit: screenshot from FLIR footage

H/T Foxtrot Alpha


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. Give it 0.32 seconds before the, “hurrrrrr, see it not stealth” crowd comes crawling in.

  2. A clear case of “So what”. This signature is in a condition no enemy plane is supposed to ever see…

  3. Wow.. just wow. Can you be any MORE blatant. Hello! Yeah! Vertical HOVER maneuver going on here!
    Why don’t you take the SAME thermal picture when it’s in mission execution mode? Then you can get back to me about how “bad” this aircrafts thermal image is.
    I’m no fan of the F-35, but this is just bad journalism.

    • Calm down, this was not supposed to be an article against (or pro) F-35… It’s just a post about a cool, rarely seen type of footage. Anyway the thermal picture of the F-35B performing a high speed pass can be seen in the video as well.

    • The P&W F135 in the F-35 happens to be the most advanced and “hottest” engine ever put in a fighter. Being in a mission “execution mode” is irrelevant since the thermal signature of the aircraft will always be significant.

      Yes – its more obvious in STOVL but horizontal flight won’t eliminate the thermal signature making tracking of the aircraft with IRST possible. JSF pilots will have to deal with this vulnerability with appropriate tactics in the future.

      • And you can see a B-2 parked on the ramp. I don’t see people screeching about it being vulnerable to optically guided missiles. Looking at an aircraft flying around at an airshow and trying to equate that to something meaningful is fairly pointless. Next you’ll have the usual crowd claiming it could be shot down by sonar-guided missiles because it’s jet engine makes noise. Seriously, I wish some people could see how ridiculous they sound.

      • The F-35 is designed to dump as much heat out the back as possible. So while the engine is always going to be hot, it is harder to see the heat from any other angle.

  4. OK so I hate on the F-35 every chance I get. Not now. Like it has been said before this is not a configuration where the aircraft would be expected to be ‘stealthy’. So it is simply an interesting picture of an aircraft doing the things that it is supposed to do. The helicopter thermal imagins system is quite cool though.

Comments are closed.