The 2015 Yuma Airshow was held in sunshine at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma in Arizona on February 28th, 2015. This is the premiere aviation training base of the United States Marine Corps and the airshow is a showcase of many of the USMC aircraft operated there, including the new Lockheed-Martin F-35B Lightning II Short Take Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant of the fifth generation Joint Strike Fighter which features stealth capability along with advanced avionics and weapons systems.
The F-35B put on an impressive display of its very short take off capability along with fast flyby’s and vertical hovering. It is fitted with a Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-600 afterburning turbofan engine that incorporates a forward placed Rolls-Royce patented shaft-driven LiftFan® propulsion system for VTOL and the main engine nozzle can swivel 90 degrees to provide vertical and horizontal thrust. It was quite interesting seeing the latest in fifth generation stealth technology with all those hatches opening and closing, along with that amazing vectorable thrust engine nozzle in action too!
The F-35B was joined by a number of other USMC assets in the flight demonstrations during the airshow including a McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II V/STOL attack aircraft from the famous Marine Fighter Squadron 214 (VMF-214) “Blacksheep” (think air ace and Medal of Honour recipient Pappy Boyington and Vought F4U Corsairs in World War Two and the excellent 1976-1978 TV show Baa Baa Blacksheep / Black Sheep Squadron). The F-35B will eventually replace the AV-8B in USMC service but in the meantime the Harrier II made some surprisingly fast passes along with an impressive demonstration of the short take off, vertical landing and vertical take off capabilities of the aircraft.
A nice little addition to the show were some non V/STOL types in the form of 4 Northrop F-5N/F Tiger II adversaries from Marine Fighter Training Squadron 401 (VMFT-401) “Snipers“ based at MCAS Yuma. They conducted a number of formation fly pasts from behind and along the crowd line (more on them in a future post).
The 2015 Yuma Airshow was a fantastic event. I had never been before but I was impressed. It is not a huge show by any means but they had a good display program, plenty of good view points and everything was well-managed (I had no issues getting into MCAS Yuma, parking or getting out of the parking area after the show. Food and drink were priced reasonably too). Well done to the organisers and the Marine Aviators.
Up next I will share the USMC helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft that were on static display as well as conducting flying demonstrations at Yuma. Plenty more to come!