On an assignment at Eglin Air Force Base in Okaloosa County, renowned fine art and commercial photographer Stephen Wilkes had the unique opportunity to get in close and capture some beautiful images of the F-35 Lightning II, aka the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). The fighter plane, which has been built for military purposes, served as the perfect model to represent the beauty that can be found in even the most destructive devices.
Wilkes managed to take his stunning images of the JSF by carefully planning out his shots. He says, “It took an enormous amount of logistical planning to get a lift truck onto an area like that – and there are tremendous security issues. There were aspects of the aircraft that we couldn't photograph because of the technology involved.”
It is, as Adam Ciralsky of Vanity Fair writes, “the most expensive weapons system in American history.” The aircraft, a formidable figure on its own, is all the more intimidating when its price tag (approximately $200 million) is brought into view. Wilkes recalls trying to take an overheard shot of the jet from a cherry picker, 80 feet above ground: “The moment when you're above a $200 million aircraft, you really don't want to drop anything.”