Back in December, the U.S. Air Force announced plans to form a new F-35A demonstration team, and soon footage of the team practice made its way onto the internet. If anyone was wondering what this new demonstration team would bring to the table, it seems clear now — with some acrobatic stunts the public has never seen out of an F-35 shown clearly in the videos.
While the F-35 has long been touted as the world’s most advanced and capable fighter, it’s no secret that other, older platforms like Russia’s acrobatic Su-35 or America’s F-15 Strike Eagle are more maneuverable and boast higher top speeds. What the F-35 lacks as a dog-fighter, however, it makes up for with unparalleled abilities to locate and engage with enemy aircraft from incredible ranges while remaining undetected. In short, an F-35 would look to shoot down a Su-35 well before a “Top Gun” style engagement could take place — but what if America’s newest fighter found itself in need of some fancy footwork?
Well, one could surmise that the F-35 demonstration team has a number of PR objectives, and one of them is almost certainly doing away with the idea that the fifth-generation fighter is a slouch as a gymnast. While the maneuvers shown below may not all have a direct combat-application, this demonstration of the F-35’s capabilities will likely be enough to assuage some critics who fear the jet may be at a disadvantage in a future conflict with near-peer opponents like Russia or China.
According to reports, the pilot responsible for these incredible maneuvers is Capt. Andrew Olson, call sign “Dojo,” and he does not disappoint. In the first video, Dojo takes the aircraft straight up, before executing an extremely tight loop, pulling off the throttle and spinning the fighter a full 360 degrees with all but no forward airspeed.