All three U.S. stealth aircraft will reportedly fly during this year's "Salute to America" July 4th event in Washington, D.C., in accordance President Donald Trump's request to have a larger, more robust parade in the nation's capital.
The Air Force B-2 Spirit, Air Force F-22 Raptor, and Navy F-35C Joint Strike Fighter will make an appearance over Washington, D.C. airspace, according to reports from CNN and ABC News. The outlets obtained a Pentagon document showing the list of equipment expected to participate.
These aircraft will be joined by the Boeing VC-25, known as Air Force One when the president is on board; the Navy's Blue Angels demonstration team, which fly F/A-18 Hornets; and the brand-new Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin VH-92 helicopter, slated to become Marine One next year.
The use of fifth-generation jets and premier stealth aircraft alone could be costly. For example, the F-35, the Pentagon's newest fighter program, costs roughly $44,000 per hour to fly, according to statistics provided to Military.com in 2018. Trump has routinely touted the F-35's stealth capabilities, saying that the aircraft cannot be seen and are "invisible." (The president likely means the F-35 is highly capable of eluding enemy radars because of its stealth coating.)
The reports also come just days after the Navy was forced to cancel a Super Hornet demonstration in Michigan, and scrutinize spending on the year’s future aerial demonstration events, amid aviation budget shortfalls.
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It's unclear how many of each type of aircraft will fly on Thursday, which units they will come from or how many aircrew will support the event. The Defense Department referred all requests for comment to the White House.
In remarks to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump on Monday said tanks will also be featured in the July 4 display.
"We're going to have some tanks outside" the main events on the National Mall, he said, according to a White House pool report.
"You've got to be pretty careful with the tanks, because the roads have a tendency not to like to carry heavy tanks so we have to put them in certain areas. But we have the brand-new Sherman tanks and we have the brand-new Abrams tanks."
It's not clear what Trump meant by Sherman tanks, which have not been in the U.S. inventory since the 1950s.
The Associated Press on Monday spotted at least two M1A1 Abrams tanks and two of the Army's Bradley Fighting Vehicles transiting through the southeastern rail yard in Washington, D.C. CNN reported that a "small number" of M1 Abrams tanks would be included in the parade in some capacity, possibly for static display. An armored M88 Recovery Vehicle will also be present, CNN said.
The Federal Aviation Administration will close the air space during the flyovers as well as the fireworks.
"The #FAA will suspend operations at @Reagan_Airport from 6:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET," the organization posted in a tweet Monday. "Operations will also be impacted from 9:00 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. Please check with your airline for flight information."
-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.