Royal International Air Tattoo-19-21 July 2019-a brief preview
By Willie Bodenstein
The Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) Airshow how typically attracts a total of 150,000 to 160,000 spectators over the weekend and is the world's largest military air show. Guinness World Records have recognised RIAT 2003 as the world's largest ever military air show, with 535 aircraft in attendance.
The show is a showcase for the world's military and has become an important precursor to the Farnborough Airshow, which takes place a week after RIAT, every 'even' year. It allows the military aerospace industry to display and present its products outside the commercial pressures of the Farnborough show.
The event has had a number of air show firsts, including the first display and landing of the B-2A Spirit stealth bomber outside the United States of America during the 1997 "50 Years of the USAF" event and in 2008 the first landing of the Lockheed F-22 Raptor in Europe.
A record crowd of 185,000 people enjoyed a feast of flying at the 2018 Air Tattoo, marking the Royal Air Force's Centenary at RAF Fairford. In total, 302 aircraft, from 43 air arms representing 30 nations attended the Airshow, of which 121 took part in the flying display.
This year aircraft from 30 military air arms from over 20 different nations are expected to grace the skies and amaze the public.
Among those are the Ukrainian Air Force who will following two successful previous appearances in 2017 and 2018 and will once again display their Russian-built Sukhoi Su-27 frontline fighter, known in the West by its NATO codename, 'Flanker.' The Su-27 was developed to combat Western opponents like the American F-15 Eagle in the late 1970s but remains a potent air superiority fighter going into the 21st Century.
This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and preparations are underway for a special anniversary flypast to showcase NATO's air power capabilities. The flypast will feature current operational aircraft from a number of NATO member nations including the UK, Belgium, Germany and the USA.
Operating seven L-39 Albatros jet-training aircraft, the Breitling Jet Team are the largest civilian aerobatic display team in Europe and formation display pilots of the team will be flying at this summer's Air Tattoo for the first time in five years. The Dijon, France-based Breitling Jet Team has taken its aerial performances beyond its home in Europe to international skies in recent years, attracting and amazing new fans throughout Asia and North America.
Following a successful visit to Spain by RIAT's Head of Air Operations, the show trust confirmed that the Armada Espanola will be flying two of their AV-8B Harriers in the 2019 Air Tattoo flying display! This pairs display has not been seen at the Air Tattoo before. The display will take place on all three days of the Air Tattoo, subject to the usual operational considerations.
The Trust also announced the return of the Royal Norwegian Air Force with a pair of F-16 Fighting Falcons that would be joining the static display as well as static aircraft from three other European nations and Canada. Austria will be joining us with a C-130K Hercules, Belgium adds two F-16AMs and an ERJ regional jet, while the Hungarian Air Force joins the list with a JAS-39 Gripen. The Royal Canadian Air Force will be making the journey across the Atlantic with a CP-140 Aurora and CC-130 Hercules.
The Red Arrows have confirmed that they will be returning to the Cotswolds in the summer to take part in the Air Tattoo. Their displays at RAF Fairford on July 19-21 will be their last in the UK this year as they will be jetting off shortly afterwards on a high-profile tour of the US and Canada.
The Slovenian Air Force will be returning to the Air Tattoo in their PC-9M Swifts to again to take part in both the flying display and static line up. In 2017 First Lieutenant Andrej Fiorelli was awarded the Sir Douglas Bader Trophy for his impressive display of this multi-role turboprop.
The German Air Force (GAF) confirmed that they will be sending a total of six aircraft to form part of the static line up at RIAT. Two more Tornados of the jet from Tactical Air Wing 51 will form part of the aerial display. Lovers of the iconic jet will rejoice since following the retirement of the Royal Air Force's Tornado fleet, the opportunities to see the type in the UK are now limited.
A crowd favourite wherever they go is the Italian Air Force's display team, the Frecce Tricolori, will be thrilling the crowds on the 20th and 21st July. The air arm will also be sending a Typhoon, C-27J Spartan and M-346 jet trainer, all to fly at the 2019 Air Tattoo.
The Royal Air Force have confirmed the F-35B. The F-35B is the short take off and vertical landing variant of the F-35 that will be operated from the Royal Navy's new HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carriers and will perform a flypast at the 2019 Air Tattoo. The F-35B debuted in the UK at the Air Tattoo in 2016 and was joined by aircraft from the United States Marine Corps and F-35As from the United States Air Force. The RAF is currently undertaking its first overseas exercise with the F-35B.
The Royal Navy that is ramping up service up prior to operations aboard its new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, which will be present with four aircraft:- an AW159 Wildcat from RNAS Yeovilton, a BAE Systems Hawk T.1, Merlin HM.2 and King Air 350 from RNAS Culdrose. Two of the helicopters and two fixed wing aircraft will join the 17 other air arms that have so far confirmed for the show.
Among the numerous other attractions at RIAT will be the Vintage Village. The Village is like taking a step back in time to revel in the extravaganza of nostalgic experiences while the RAF Experience provided a unique opportunity for visitors to meet over 200 RAF personnel who are keen to share their day-to-day roles and experiences.
Pilot's Post will be bringing you a full report not only on RIAT but also on Shuttleworth, Duxford as well as our very popular daily reports from AirVenture 2019.