A quick, superficial look at the photo we have here, and one might be duped into believing this is either a rendering of some kind or some still taken from an upcoming video game or something. Only it’s neither, but a real photo, taken in our real world, showing real fighter jets.
What you’re looking at are four airplanes, two American and two French, conducting a joint exercise over France. The American planes are F-35A Lightning IIs from the Hill Air Force Base in Utah, while the French ones are Dassault Rafales deployed with the Saint-Dizier-Robinson Air Base.
The meeting happened as airmen from both countries were exercising “fourth and fifth-generation integration, combat readiness and fighting capabilities” as part of the Atlantic Trident 21 exercise that sees the U.S., France, and the United Kingdom trying to coordinate their maneuvers “in a contested environment.”
This amazing photo was shot on May 18 for the U.S. Air Force by Staff Sgt. Alexander Cook, but sadly we are not informed on how exactly he did that. It shows the Rafales on the right side of the photo, breaking off in different directions, and the F-35s to the left, doing the same.
We reckon the F-35 needs little introduction, but not the same can be said about the Rafale. Born in 2001, it’s a few years older than the American machine and comes as a multirole fighter with a delta wing configuration. The aircraft can reach Mach 1.8 and has a combat range of 1,850 km (1,150 miles).
It is armed with autocannons and comes 14 hardpoints on which external fuel, bombs, and missiles (including nuclear) can be mounted.
A little over 200 of them are currently in service with the French Air Force, but some will soon be deployed by other nations, probably starting with Greece.