This year saw my fifth visit to the Royal International Air Tattoo where the static display once again featured a very diverse line-up including some real rarities not often seen in the UK. The main theme of the show was “The Next Generation: Inspiring Innovation” and was well covered with some of most advanced aircraft in the world including the examples of the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning IIs. The static display also incorporated the 75th Anniversary of the Air Cadet Organisation with a selection of training and gliding aircraft and the 70th Anniversary of the De Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk with seven examples of the type.
The Royal Air Force provide a wide selection aircraft at this year’s event. There was a trio of big transport aircraft including an Airbus A330-243 Voyager KC.2, the seldom seen Lockheed-Martin C-130J Hercules C.5 and its eventual replacement, the Airbus A400M Atlas C.1. Fast jet were also featured with a pair of Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4s and a pair of Panavia Tornado GR.4s. One of the Typhoons wore a special paint scheme to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of No. 41(R) Squadron and one of the Tornados wore a scheme to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of RAF Marham. There was also a wide selection on modern training aircraft including a BAe Hawk T.1A and a pair of BAe Hawk T.2s, a Shorts Tucano T.1, a Beechcraft B200 King Air and a pair of Grob G-115E Tutor T.1s. Helicopter training was also covered with single example of the Eurocopter AS350BB Squirrel HT.1. There was also a section to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Air Cadet Organisation which featured more modern glider trainers, the Grob G-103A Viking TX.1 and Grob G-109B Vigilant T.1 as well as some vintage trainers including a Slingsby T.7 Cadet TX.1, a Slingsby T.21 Sedbergh TX.1, a Slingsby T.38 Grasshopper TX.1 and a Slingsby T.61F Venture T.2. The Empire Test Pilots’ School concluded the Royal Air Forces contribution to the static display with one of their Agusta-Westland AW109E Power helicopters and a Dassault-Dornier Alpha Jet A.
The Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm provided two fixed wing aircraft from their inventory, a BAe Hawk T.1A and a Beechcraft B350CER Avenger T.1.
The British Army provide a singular aircraft in the form of an Agusta-Westland WAH-64D Apache AH Mk. 1 attack helicopter from the Army Air Corps.
One of the furthest travelled participants was an Airbus KC-30A of the Royal Australian Air Force from No. 33 Squadron RAAF which is part of No. 86 Wing RAAF and hailing from RAAF Base Amberley.
The Belgian Air Component once again provided aircraft for the static display including a Lockheed C-130H Hercules transport aircraft and a Lockheed-Martin F-16AM Fighting Falcon fighter jet in a striking tiger scheme from 31st “Tiger” Squadron.
It was great to see the Royal Canadian Air Force returning to the show where they brought over a Lockheed CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft from No. 405 Squadron.
Croatia became the 56th nation to join the tattoo this year and provided a static Mil Mi-171Sh ‘Hip’ from the Croatian Air Force & Air Defence. This helicopter was also the support aircraft for the Krila Oluje aerobatic team which were also participating at the show.
The French Air Force were also present with a pair of Dassault-Dornier Alpha Jet E advanced jet trainers which have been absent from the UK airshow scene for a number of years.
Germany had a big presence in the static park yet again this year. The German Air Force provided two of their big transport aircraft including the aging Transall C-160D in a bright white scheme and the latest aircraft in their inventory, the Airbus A400M Atlas. They also provided a total of six fast jets featuring a quartet of Eurofighter Typhoons which included a pair of specially painted EF-2000Ss and a pair of EF-2000Ts two seaters alongside a pair of Panavia Tornados which featured both variants used by Germany, the ECR and IDS. The German Navy brought over a trio of their aircraft including a Dornier Do-228-212 used for pollution control, a Lockheed P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and a Eurocopter EC135 P2+ helicopter trainer. German Army Aviation once again provided a solo Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm Bo 105P helicopter trainer for the static display.
The Hellenic Air Force provided one of the highlights of the static display with a pair of McDonnell-Douglas F-4E Phantom IIs from the 339th Interception Squadron “Ajax” as part of the 117th Combat Wing based at Andravida Air Base.
The Irish Air Corps provided one of their two CASA/IPTN CN-235-100P maritime patrol aircraft.
The Italian Air Force provided a two seater Eurofighter Typhoon TF-2000A multirole fighter jet.
Japan have started to become a fairly regular contributor to the show. This year they brought over one of their Boeing KC-767J from the Japanese Air Self-Defence Force.
The Royal Jordanian Air Force once again provided a Lockheed C-130H Hercules for the static display as well being used as the support aircraft for the Royal Jordanian Falcon.
The Royal Netherlands Air Force provided a Boeing CH-47F Chinook heavy transport helicopter for the static park.
Another far travelled participant was a Boeing 757-22QC transport jet of the Royal New Zealand Air Force from No. 40 Squadron RNZAF based at RNZAF Base Auckland.
The Royal Norwegian Air Force provided a rare Dassault Falcon 20ECM for the static display.
The Royal Air Force of Oman brought over one of their EADS-CASA C-295M transport aircraft. The weekend saw this aircraft joined by a BAC Strikemaster Mk. 82A from the North Wales Military Aviation Services Ltd which was once part of the Royal Air Force of Oman.
The Pakistan Air Force also provided one of the static highlights with a Lockheed C-130E Hercules transport aircraft which wore a spectacular paint scheme.
Poland had a small presence in the static park. The Polish Air Force had a pair of EADS-CASA C-295M transport aircraft on displays whilst the Polish Navy returned to the tattoo with a PZL M28B Bryza 1R maritime patrol aircraft.
The Spanish Air Force brought over another of their Eurofighter Typhoon EF-2000 multirole jet fighters for the static display.
The Swedish Air Force made a welcome return with a SAAB JAS-39D Gripen two seater jet fighter.
The United States of America’s presence was felt in the static display as well the flying display with a number of aircraft. The Air Force Special Operations Command returned with a Bell-Boeing CV-22B Osprey and the Lockheed-Martin MC-130J Commando II. The United States Air Force in Europe provided a Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker tanker from RAF Mildenhall alongside a pair of McDonnell-Douglas F-15C Eagles and a singular McDonnell-Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle from RAF Lakenheath. The United States Navy also attended with one of their Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol jets.
BAe Systems once again put on a display of various aircraft at their stand. This year featured all three of their aircraft from the BAe Systems Heritage Flight all based at Old Warden, the Avro Anson XIX, the Blackburn B.2 and the De Havilland DH.60 Moth. Also from Old Warden was the Bristol Scout C Replica and the Shuttleworth Collection’s Hawker Sea Hurricane Mk. IB. The display also featured some classic trainer types, the De Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk Mk. 22 and Scottish Aviation Bulldog T.1.
There was also a small contingent of classic jets including a BAC Jet Provost T.5 from Jet Aerobatics and a Hawker Hunter F.58 from Hawker Hunter Aviation. Some of the other classic types on display included the Bronco Demo Team’s North American-Rockwell OV-10B Bronco and a Scottish Aviation Bulldog T.1. There was also a collection of six De Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunks to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the type which included a Mk. 20, four Mk. 22s and a DHC-1A-1 which is the oldest airworthy chipmunk in the world.
The only other warbird on display was Carlo Ferrari’s immaculate Beechcraft Model G18S in its well-polished bare metal guise.
Civilian aircraft also featured in the static park with some provided by big aircraft manufacturers. Textron Aviation returned with a selection of their aircraft including a Beechcraft AT-6B Wolverine, a Beechcraft B350ER King Air, a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan EX and the Textron AirLand Scorpion. Britten-Norman provided a Britten-Norman BN-2T Islander and a Britten-Norman BN-2T-4S Defender 400 whilst Gulfstream Aerospace provided a Gulfstream G550. There was also a selection of other civilian types including a Boeing-Stearman Kaydet from AeroSuperBatics Ltd, an Evektor RV-97 EuroStar, an Ikarus C42 FB80 Bravo and a Tecnam P2002 JF Sierra from the RAF Halton Flying Club, a Piaggio R-166C, a Piper PA-28-151 Cherokee Warrior, a Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee, a Shorts SC.7 Skyvan 3A from Invicta Aviation, Bruno Stocker’s Socata TB-20 Trinidad and a Tecnam P2008 JC from the RAF Flying Clubs’ Association. Another interesting addition was a full scale model of a Northrop-Grumman X-47B unmanned combat air vehicle.
This year’s static display was full of variety with some fantastic rarities with the highlights being the pair of McDonnell-Douglas F-4E Phantom IIs from the Hellenic Air Force, the Croatian Air Force & Air Defence’s Mil Mi-171Sh ‘Hip’ and the Pakistan Air Force’s Lockheed C-130E Hercules. It was also great to see current and past aircraft of the Royal Air Force of Oman parked next to each other over the weekend and that the United States’ presence in the static display hasn’t diminished. I looked forward to what aircraft arrive on our shores for next year’s air tattoo static display.
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