An Air Force F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter instructor pilots from the 58th Fighter Squadron, 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin AFB, Fla., in May 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John R. Nimmo, Sr.)

It hasn’t made a run over Iraq or Syria. No dogfight notches on its belt yet. But the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter did get a major public showing Sunday night when four of the super stealthy jets streaked over the Pro Bowl in formation.

The flight was a chance for the Pentagon to showcase its costliest weapons system, and give it a little action in the skies above Arizona. The pageantry of a flyover is a rite of passage for military jets, and this was the F-35’s first. Years behind schedule, the program is still in the development stages, with the first of the three versions of the jet scheduled to reach what’s called “initial operational capability” this summer.

Still, the Air Force’s leadership seemed giddy at the prospect of the flight (even, apparently, if it did not get shown on television, which prompted a few jokes on Twitter about its stealth).

“The Sound of Freedom over AZ Tonight!” tweeted Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III. Here’s the video and a few other tweets from Sunday evening.


F-35 jets fly in formation over the NFL Pro Bowl in Arizona on Sunday night. (YouTube screen grab)