Marine Corps F-35 stealth fighter conducts flyover of White House during Polish president’s visit

Warrant Officer Bobby Yarbrough/Marine Corps Recruit Depot
Warrant Officer Bobby Yarbrough/Marine Corps Recruit Depot

(WASHINGTON) — A F-35 Marine Corps fighter conducted a flyover of the White House on Wednesday to mark Polish president Andrzej Duda’s visit and Poland’s agreement to purchase the advanced aircraft from the United States.

Presidents Trump and Duda, accompanied by their wives, went to the White House South Lawn to watch the F-35 perform the flyover and then hover above, a capability unique to the Marine version of the aircraft. They waved as the plane flew overhead

The rare, if not unprecedented, White House flyover is the first for the U.S. military’s most advanced aircraft.

Speaking to reporters earlier on Wednesday, President Trump previewed the flyover, saying two fighters would make two passes over the White House before going “straight up,” motioning with his hand.

“They’re going to put on a very small show for us, but it’s going to be something,” he said.

A defense official told ABC News that the White House Military Office had made a request to the Pentagon on May 19 for a Marine F-35 to carry out the flyover, and that the request was approved 10 days later. Two Marine F-35’s were flown from their home base in Beaufort, South Carolina, with one slated to serve as a “spare” aircraft, the official said.

The White House said the flyover partly recognizes Poland’s decision to acquire F-35s of its own, a long-sought-after purchase so that Warsaw could replace aging Soviet-era planes.

Trump said that Poland had agreed to purchase “32 or 35 brand new F-35s at the highest level.” He later said the number was 32.

As did Trump, the White House had said two fighter planes would be on display.

“In honor of today’s visit by President Duda of the Republic of Poland, two F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft will conduct a brief flyover above the White House this afternoon,” confirmed White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley in a statement. “We appreciate Poland’s plan to purchase this exceptional aircraft and welcome the opportunity for DOD demonstration pilots to showcase the F-35 while logging required training hours.”

The F-35s were expected to fly about 1,000 feet over the White House at 115 miles per hour, one official said.

Trump has described the F-35 stealth aircraft as “invisible” and has personally intervened with the aircraft’s producer Lockheed Martin to lower the cost of the program.

In addition to the F-35 sale, Trump said on Wednesday that as many as 1,000 U.S. forces would rotate through Poland from U.S. bases in Germany.

A U.S. official told ABC News that the 1,000 additional rotational forces in Poland would be stationed at various Polish bases in the country.

A statement on President Duda’s website said the United States had also agreed to deploy to Poland an Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone squadron, establish a U.S. Special Operations capability and as well as a division headquarters. The statement added that the U.S. military moves would be undertaken at no cost to the United States.

There are already 4,500 U.S. troops that rotate through Poland as part of a NATO mission. The U.S. is also helping to construct a missile defense base in Poland, which aims to defend U.S. and European allies from a “rogue” missile threat, namely Iran.

The announcement of further U.S.- Poland military cooperation did not include the establishment of a U.S. base in Poland, dubbed “Fort Trump,” which was originally proposed by the Poles to counter Russian aggression, the U.S. official confirmed.

Trump told reporters that talks continue around a possible U.S. base, saying, “We haven’t finalized anything.”

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