Six F-35 Joint Strike Fighters from the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, simulating aggressor air training accidentally created contrails that resembled a penis, base officials told Military.com
"We've seen the photos that have been circulating online from Tuesday afternoon," said spokeswoman Maj. Rebecca Heyse in an email. "The 56th Fighter Wing senior leadership reviewed the training tapes from the flight and confirmed that F-35s conducting standard fighter training maneuvers Tuesday afternoon in the Gladden and Bagdad military operating airspace resulted in the creation of the contrails.
"There was no nefarious or inappropriate behavior during the training flight," she continued. "The flight audio was reviewed by senior leadership, and it confirmed the statements by the pilots explaining what happened."
Heyse explained that while the four-ship, "red air" aggressor team faced off with the two-ship blue team, the red air team pulled back, requiring the blue team to come around before re-engaging in the dogfight.
"The contrails were made by the 2-ship as they were beginning the fight with the 4-ship and then told to hold off, causing them to hook to reposition before then beginning the fight again, causing them to hook once more," Heyse said.
That flight pattern created something like a phallic symbol in the sky. What is not seen in the photos circulating on social media is a "third vertical contrail" parallel to the two original contrails, she added.
The accidental drawing comes after a trend of aerial maneuvers by U.S. military units that involved drawing penis-like shapes across the sky in 2018.
Last year, two West Coast-based Marines were investigated and subsequently punished for executing a flight pattern that resembled a phallus in late October; they were later restricted to ground duties and given administrative discipline, the Marine Corps confirmed in December.
And the commander of a B-52 Stratofortress squadron at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, was relieved of duty in November after sexually explicit and phallic drawings were found during a deployment to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.
Lt. Col. Paul Goossen of the 69th Bomb Squadron attempted to stop his fellow airmen from drawing "d---s everywhere," according to the investigation, which included penis drawings discovered on a moving map displayed on the B-52's Combat Network Communication Technology (CONECT) cockpit software.
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