The F-35 strike fighter is now qualified to take part in Air Combat Command’s heritage flight program, which demonstrates the history of America’s airpower as modern fighter aircraft fly alongside World War II, Korean, and Vietnam-era aircraft, the service announced. The fifth-generation fighter qualified on March 6 at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., and its first air show as a member of the Heritage Flight Team will be April 2-3 at Luke AFB, Ariz., states the release. “Being a part of these heritage flights allows the world to learn more about the F-35 and at the same time see just how far airpower has come over the years,” said Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th Fighter Wing commander. “The F-35 will be the backbone of the Air Force fighter fleet and represent the future for the US, our partners, and allies. This will be a great opportunity for everyone to see how amazing the F-35 is.” The team will travel to 16 airshows across the United States ending at Nellis AFB, Nev., in November. (See the full schedule.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.