The F-35 Lightning II is the U.S. military’s newest multirole fighter jet. (Submitted by Matt Slafka)

Photos of the Week: When Lightning Strikes

Ever wonder how military aircraft get their names?

Designating an aircraft’s name usually falls to the military and aircraft manufacturer. However, names can come from various sources for a variety of different reasons.

For example, fighter jets often are connotated with birds of prey, such as F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-22 Raptor. Others, like the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, reuse a name carrying the legacy of its predecessors.

The F-35 Lightning II, one of which was shot by Matt Slakfa at the Seattle Seafair airshow, built by Lockheed Martin is the U.S. military’s newest multirole fighter jet. The name Lightning II pays homage to two fighters of the past: Lockheed’s legendary P-38 Lightning from World War II and the United Kingdom’s supersonic English Electric Lightning.

Other than its name, what’s unique about the F-35? Its advanced technology.

The F-35 is built with stealth in mind, meaning it is much harder to detect by radar than previous fighter aircraft.

Radar works by using radio waves that are transmitted into the air and are received when reflected by an aircraft. However, the F-35 is designed to absorb radar waves rather than reflect them, thus reducing its radar signature. This results in the F-35 appearing similar in size to a golf ball on radar.

Additionally, the F-35 incorporates a revolutionary, complex battle suite. Its cockpit features panoramic touchscreens and a new digital helmet display that contain important combat, systems and flight information. The F-35 can also network with other fighters, sharing combat data in real time, making the aircraft a force multiplier.

Its advanced technology and capabilities make the F-35 highly sought after by aviation fans at airshows around the U.S. and the rest of the world. Much like its namesake, the F-35 has the ability to wow crowds like mother nature can.

And by wow, we really do mean “WOW!” with this capture by Scott Michalism of a lightning storm at Pittsburgh International Airport. While lighting forces ground crews to take shelter and wait out the storm, at least it can produce great shows to pass the time.

Thanks, Matt and Scott!

Our readers continue to pass along shots of unique aircraft, international airports, historical events, gorgeous views and even family vacation photos for this feature. We love them! Keep them coming—you can click here for submission guidelines.

A lightning storm moves past Pittsburgh International Airport. (Submitted by Scott Michalism)

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