Military Aviation

From the F-35A Lightning II debut to the F/A-18 Hornet demo team with Schlieren Effect: cool video features the highlights of 2022 Swiss Air Force’s Axalp Air Power Demonstration

The 2022 edition of the Swiss Air Force’s Axalp Air Power demonstration marked the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II’s debut.

Filmed by our friend Dafydd Phillips on Oct. 19, 2022 the cool video in this post features the highlights of this year Axalp Air Power Demonstration. As the footage shows, the 2022 edition of this unique exercise marked the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II’s debut.

‘Axalp delivered again! We had some surprise visitors from the Italian Air Force in their fifth generation F-35 Lightnings. They dropped into the humid air in the mountain and showed us how they vape,’ Phillips says.

Switzerland has inked a deal to procure 36 F-35A Lightning II fighter jets last month, dodging a proposed popular referendum in the hopes of receiving the new jets by the end of the decade.

The contract, worth 6.035 billion Swiss Francs (U.S. $6.25 billion) includes 36 of the conventional takeoff-and-landing aircraft variant, due to replace the nation’s fleets of F/A-18 Hornets and F-5 Tigers between 2027 and 2030.

According to Defense News, the first eight F-35As will be manufactured at Lockheed Martin’s facilities in Fort Worth, Texas, where they will also be used to provide initial training for the Swiss pilots, Bern announced in March. At least 24 subsequent aircraft will be manufactured and assembled by Leonardo at the Final Assembly and Check-Out (FACO) facility in Cameri, northern Italy.

Officials are still examining whether four aircraft could be assembled in Switzerland, at Ruag’s facilities, a Swiss government spokesperson told Defense News. If that is not possible, those four will also be manufactured in Cameri, the spokesperson said.

Besides the F-35s the video also includes a high-speed pass performed by the Swiss Air Force F/A-18 Hornet demo team.

‘I’ve also included the high-speed pass from the Swiss Air Force F/A-18 demonstration with Schlieren Effect. The memory of 1:59 in the video is something I will treasure.’

As you can see in the video, the high-speed pass of the Hornet is at the transonic point. If you look closely you can see the pressure wave “bending” light just ahead of the tail fins: that is the Schlieren Effect.

The program of the 2022 edition of the Axalp Air Power demonstration included strafing runs with F/A-18C/D Hornet fighter jets, a demo display of the Pilatus PC-21 trainer, a Special Forces operation, firefighting operations and demonstrations of the flight characteristics of the Cougar helicopter and F/A-18 and the Patrouille Suisse.

Photo credit: Dafydd Phillips

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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