Low and fast, with contrails streaming from its wingtips an F-35A from the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill AFB, Utah, reefs into a hard turn during a mission in Wales during the recent deployment to RAF Lakenheath, UK. Nigel Blake

THERE IS A genuine feeling in the US Air Force that the F-35A is coming of age. Pilots are now willing to discuss the shortcomings of their latest fighter, but they are quick to note that these are mainly historic and that the expected arrival of the ‘full-up’ Block 3F software will mark the Lightning II’s maturity.

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