Top 35 F-35 Photos

The F-35 Lightning II is a visionary aircraft with unsurpassed vision. It also poses for a pretty terrific photo. Check out our 35 favorite photos of the F-35 in action:

1. Flying over Fort Worth: An F-35B flies over the city of Fort Worth, Texas, on Dec. 8, 2011. All three variants of the F-35 are produced at Lockheed Martin's mile-long factory in Fort Worth. Learn more about F-35 production.

Flying over Fort Worth

2. First F-35B Ship Trials: The F-35B completed its first sea trials aboard the USS WASP, an amphibious assault ship, in October 2011. While underway, the F-35B logged more than 28 hours of flight time and completed 72 short takeoffs and 72 vertical landings.

First F-35B Ship Trials

3. First UK F-35 Flight: The United Kingdom’s first F-35 (and the first international F-35) took its first flight on April 13, 2012. The Royal Air Force and Royal Navy plan to operate 138 F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing aircraft, and the first two were delivered to the U.K. in 2012.

First UK F-35 Flight

4. Four Lightning IIs: Two F-35A and two F-35B aircraft meet in the skies over Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), California, in June 2013. Edwards AFB is one of six U.S. military bases currently flying the F-35.

Four Lightning IIs

5. Flying in Formation: An F-35B and F-35C aircraft fly in formation on March 14, 2013. Learn more about all three F-35 variants and their common capabilities.

F-35s Flying in Formation

6. Flying at Dusk: An F-35B flies over the coast of Maryland on a test mission at dusk on April 19, 2013.

F-35 Flying at Dusk

7. First U.K. Short Takeoff at Sea: A United Kingdom Royal Air Force test pilot takes off from the USS Wasp on Aug. 13, 2013. The flight marked the first time a U.K. pilot flew an F-35B short takeoff mission at sea. Learn more about the second round of ship trials, known as Developmental Test-II.

First U.K. Short Takeoff at Sea

8. First Guided Weapon Test: An F-35 Lightning II employs a Guided Bomb Unit-12 (GBU-12) Paveway II laser-guided weapon from the internal weapons bay against a fixed ground tank test target for the first time on Oct. 29, 2013. The F-35's Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) enabled the pilot to identify, track, designate and deliver the GBU-12 on target.

First F-35 Guided Weapon Test

9. Multi-variant Refuel: An F-35B and F-35C aircraft refuel together with a Lockheed Martin KC-130J Hercules in November 2013. Both the F-35B and F-35C use the probe and drogue method of refueling.

F-35 Multi-variant Refuel

10. Joining Forces: The F-35 Lightning II flew in formation with two Typhoons in April 2014. Discover how the F-35 will serve as a communications gateway for numerous other platforms.

F-35 and Typhoons

11. Vertical Landing at Sea: An F-35B test aircraft lands vertically on the deck of the USS Wasp on Aug. 15, 2013.  

F-35 Vertical Landing at Sea

12. Family Shot: All three F-35 variants pose at Edwards AFB for a family photo. Left to right: F-35C carrier variant, F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variant, F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant. See all of the F-35 family photos.

F-35 Family Shot

13. High Angle of Attack: An F-35C aircraft flies a high angle of attack intentional departure test flight in November 2013. Hear from the pilots and engineers testing the F-35C carrier variant's high angle of attack capabilities.

F-35 High Angle of Attack

14. First Live Fire Test: The F-35 Lightning II executed its first live-fire launch of a guided air-to-air missile over a military test range off the California coast on Oct. 30, 2013.

First F-35 Live Fire

15. F-35C at Moonrise: An F-35C beauty shot on the flight line at Edwards AFB in September 2013.  

F-35C Moonrise

16. Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS): The F-35’s Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) is the first sensor that combines forward-looking infrared and infrared search and track functionality to provide F-35 pilots with situational awareness and air-to-air and air-to-surface targeting from a safe distance.


17. Night Operations at Sea: An F-35B is cleared for short takeoff at night from the deck of the USS Wasp in August 2013, during the first night operations at sea.

F-35 Night Operations at Sea

18. Wingtips Up: The F-35C variant has larger wings and more robust landing gear than the other variants, making it suitable for catapult launches and fly-in arrestments aboard naval aircraft carriers. Its wingtips also fold to allow for more room on the carrier’s deck while deployed.

F-35 Wingtips

19. First Flight for Netherlands’ First F-35: The first F-35 for the Royal Netherlands Air Force flew its first flight over North Texas on Aug. 6, 2012.  

First Flight for Netherlands’ First F-35

20. Barrel Roll: An F-35A test aircraft executes a barrel roll over the California desert in June 2012.  

F-35 Barrel Roll

21. Night Refueling: The F-35 completed its first night refueling mission on March 22, 2012 at Edwards AFB. See it in action.

F-35 Night Refueling

22. Carrier Variant Test Flight: An F-35C test aircraft flies over Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, on Jan. 28, 2013.

F-35C Testing

23. STOVL Mode: The F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) operation is made possible through the Rolls-Royce patented shaft-driven LiftFan® propulsion system and a Pratt & Whitney engine that can swivel 90 degrees when in STOVL mode.

F-35B STOVL Mode

24. Lightning meets Lightning II: The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II meets its namesake, the P-38 Lockheed Lightning, at Edwards AFB. The first service model P-38s were delivered to the Army Air corps in June 1941.

P-38 and F-35

25. A Namesake Flight: The F-35 Lightning II shared the sky with its World War II-era namesake, the P-38 Lightning, over Luke AFB’s annual air show in March 2014.

P-38 and F-35 Fly in Formation

26. Catapult Launch: An F-35C prepares for a catapult launch test at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, on Sept. 10, 2011. See the first catapult launch in action.

F-35C Catapult Launch

27. Six in a Row: In May 2011, all six F-35As located at Edwards AFB lined up for a beauty shot.

Edwards F-35As

28. First Three Variant Flight: The first multi-ship flight with all three F-35 variants took place on Nov.19, 2013, during a test mission to evaluate the F-35’s Multifunction Advanced Data Link, or MADL.

First F-35 Three Variant Flight

29. Rapid Refuel: An F-35A tops off its fuel tanks while cruising west toward its final destination of Edwards AFB on Dec. 11, 2010.

F-35 Refuel

30. A Beauty Shot: A nice F-35A beauty shot, captured during a sensor fusion test flown from Edwards AFB on Feb. 7, 2014.


31. Arrestment Landing: An F-35C aircraft completed a fly-in arrestment landing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, on May 27, 2014.

F-35C Arrestment Landing

32. 4th and 5th Gen Fly Together: For more than three decades, Luke AFB has been the home to the F-16 Fighting Falcon. At a ceremony on March 14, 2014, Luke AFB unveiled its first F-35.  

F-16 and F-35

33. A Bright Landing: An F-35B test aircraft executes a vertical landing to the deck of the USS Wasp during Developmental Test-II on Aug. 13, 2013.

F-35B on USS Wasp

34. F-35B Beauty Shot: An F-35B beauty shot was captured on a test mission near Edwards AFB in March 2014.


35. Stealth meets Stealth: An F-35A lands at Nellis AFB, Nevada, with a B-2 bomber flying overhead on March 6, 2013.

F-35 and B-2

June 24, 2014