This Cool Footage Shows U.S. F-35A Lightning II Combat Planes Flying Through The Famous Mach Loop For The First Time

The Joint Strike Fighter has flown through the world-famous Mach Loop Low Flying Area for the first time.

The clip below shows F-35A Lightning IIs belonging to the 34th Fighter Squadron, 388th Fighter Wing and the Air Force Reserve’s 466th Fighter Squadron, 419th Fighter Wing, deployed to RAF Lakenheath, UK, from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, enter the Mach Loop LFA (Low Flying Area) in Wales for the very first time on May 2.

The aircraft have arrived in the UK on Apr. 15, for the type’s first overseas training deployment to Europe and since then they have been quite active: along with flying several sorties alongside the local based F-15E Strike Eagles (some of them flown without the Radar Reflectors/Luneburg Lenses – as happened on Apr. 26), they have visited Estonia and then Bulgaria.

In this video by Neilb1940 you can see the aircraft maneuvering at low altitude more or less one year after the F-22 Raptors temporarily based at RAF Lakenheath in support of the European Reassurance Initiative visited the Loop for the first time.

Noteworthy, you can also easily spot the pretty distinctive wingtip vortices generated by the F-35.

The flaperon and wingtip vortices have long been debated: GAO claimed that these could affect the aircraft’s stealth performance; others suggest these visible “tubes of circulating air which are left behind the aircraft’s wing as it generates lift” may make the aircraft more easily picked up visually by an enemy pilot in a WVR (Within Visual Range) engagement even though some pilots have explained that they are not a factor because if you are close enough to see the F-35’s vortices, you are probably close enough to see the jet.

H/T @guidoolimpio 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.


    • PAK FA with its 3D TVC nozzles can do even more impressive things, but I know that this is completely out of your understanding.

        • Three types of AESA radars and whole bunch of warning sensors and ew systems would be enough for warn the pilot to upcoming AMRAAMs and enough to avoid them.

  1. There is no credible proof that air vortices can be located by these Chinese “goalpost” technologies.

  2. ” … others suggest these visible “tubes of circulating air which are left behind the aircraft’s wing as it generates lift” may make the aircraft more easily picked up visually by an enemy pilot in a WVR (Within Visual Range) engagement …”.

    Well, they didn’t help the Red Team at Mt. Home, Red Flag 17-1 or Atlantic Trident 17. Very funny stuff!! Now, let’s talk about all that smoke billowing out of Russian fighters like the MiG-29.

    • Yeah, let’s talk about how the very first MiG-29As with smoky engines had the same or even better agility than the F-35s, already back in 80’s.

      • Let them fight and see who comes out on top (or should I say ends up down below). The F-35 is designed to maneuver as well as an F-16. If it ever got to WVR (it wouldn’t because the MiG would die at BVR) the F-35 with its advanced Gen III helmet, great maneuverability, acceleration and HOBS missiles would end up the victor. MiG-29 wouldn’t stand a chance.

        • Did I say that MiG-29 would beat the F-35? No. I just noted that cheap aircraft from 80’s can easily maneuver same well as the aircraft, which should be the basis of USAF for another decades. But if you want to talk about fights, then at least use for comparison aircrafts with better capabilities such as the Su-35S or future Su-50 and MiG-35, because it’s unlikely that F-35 will ever meet a MiG-29 in dogfights.

  3. But the F-35 can’t turn and can’t run. It’s too fat and heavy to be fast and it has terrible wing loading. The F-35 doesn’t work and stealth is a lie…

    It’s morbidly fascinating that people are still clinging to these claims. The F-35 is constantly proving the putzs wrong. Anyone at this point who are still against the F-35 are trying to push a wheelbarrow
    full of male bovine excrement up an ever increasing incline.

    Full disclaimer… I used to be against the F-35 up until about 2012 when I started to read up on it myself and realised the criticism are often by people who dont know anything about military aviation and tactics.

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