The Navy will have a worldwide audience Sunday to showcase its newest warplane, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

A pair of stealthy F-35s will fly at the Super Bowl in Miami in formation with an F/A-18 Super Hornet like those based in Virginia Beach and an EA-18G Growler.

Typically, the Navy and Air Force rotate conducting the flyover at the Super Bowl each year. Each service typically uses the elite flight demonstration teams that perform at air shows around the country.

But rather than send up the Blue Angels again, the Navy decided it wanted to showcase the full range of its tactical aircraft, according to Cmdr. Ron Flanders, spokesman for Naval Air Forces.

“We're showing the Navy-Marine Corps team and what we can bring to bear flying from the sea,” Flanders said.

The Blue Angels fly the F/A-18 Hornet, which has been phased out of service from the rest of the fleet. They'll start flying the more advanced Super Hornets in 2021.

The Navy achieved initial operating capability with the F-35 last year, after the Air Force and Marines had hit that milestone.

One of the F-35s is a Marine Corps variant based in Beaufort, South Carolina, and the other is specifically made for the the Navy and is based at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California.

The Super Hornet also is based at Lemoore, Flanders said. The Growler is based in Whidbey Island, Washington.

Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, said during a visit to Norfolk this week that it's “critically important” for the Navy to participate in events like the Super Bowl to connect with Americans outside of fleet concentrations areas like Hampton Roads, where sailors are intimately involved in the communities they live in.

“Here in Hampton Roads … people understand who we are, what we do, and it helps recruit people and become interested in it,” Gilday said.

“It's really important for us to have that outreach in portions of the country, particularly where we may not usually come in contact with folks.”


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