Providing a comparison to the P-8 was this German Navy Lockheed P-3 Orion from MFG-3 at Nordholz air base
The forward fuselage of the aircraft carries silhouettes of the types previously operated by the unit
The Beechcraft AT-6 demonstrator was in the static display arena, another aircraft trying to attract further orders and destined for FIA. The aircraft is an armed version of Beechcraft's T-6 trainer
The first 'Air Tattoo' was staged in 1971 at North Weald, Essex with just over 100 aircraft participating in the show. It became the International Air Tattoo in 1976, gaining further recognition of its unique status by Her Majesty the Queen in 1996, when the current Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) title was adopted. Between 1973 and 1983 the RIAT was held at Greenham Common, moving to its present site at RAF Fairford in 1985. The organiser of RIAT is the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust.
This year's RIAT changed from a 2-day event to a 3-day event, with an opportunity for a limited number or people to attend on the Friday in celebration of the RAF Red Arrows aerobatic team's 50th display season. The 'Park & View' areas had opened on the Wednesday and Thursday for arrivals, with the Monday also open to catch aircraft departing the show. As is the norm, Jetwash Aviation Photos was in attendance to bring you all the action from the 2014 event and show you some of the more interesting participants at this year's show.
The RAF Tucano Display Team was present with two aircraft, both painted in this special 'Lest We Forget' livery
Lockheed-Martin's 'Cannestra Trophy' for the best flying display by an overseas participant
went to the Frecce Tricolori of the Italian Air Force
The German Army Heeresflieger Waffenschule (HFWS) displayed this nice Bolkow BO.105P
Continuing with the Tiger theme is this Panavia Tornado ECR from AG.51 of the German Luftwaffe
RIAT has traditionally had a theme every year, with 2014 being a celebration of the Red Arrows 50th display season and the 40th Anniversary of the F-16 Fighting Falcon. It was also a chance to see the much-vaunted F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint-Strike-Fighter (JSF). The Red Arrows theme attracted the Patrouille de France, the Frecce Tricolori, Team Orlik, Patrouille Suisse and the Royal Jordanian Falcons. Sadly the F-16 theme just didn't get off the ground, with only Belgian, Danish, Dutch, Norwegian and Turkish aircraft in attendance. All in all a pretty poor turn-out when considering the number of operators in Europe, let alone around the world.
As to the F-35, well to be honest the less said about that the better. It should and would have been a great coup for RIAT to pull off, had it turned up! With the aircraft also scheduled to appear at the Farnborough International Airshow (FIA) the following week, a F-35 had suffered an engine fire a couple of weeks prior to its planned trans-Atlantic crossing for the two shows; this coming on the back of a number of previous issues that had led to the fleet being grounded until safety checks had been completed. Although having been cleared to re-commence flying prior to FIA, it was too late for RIAT and on the 10th July the following statement was released;
"Despite everyones best endeavours, it has now been decided that the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II will not fly at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) 2014 as all of the aircraft currently remain grounded". Air Tattoo Chief Executive Tim Prince said the decision was a great disappointment given the planning that had gone into bringing the aircraft over to RIAT for its international debut. He said; "It's not unusual for there to be delays in the development programme of any new military aircraft, and the Air Tattoo has been working closely with teams from Lockheed-Martin, the US Marine Corps, Department of Defence and MoD to ensure the aircraft touched down at RAF Fairford for the Air Tattoo. Unfortunately we've simply run out of time." A MoD spokesman added; "The safety of pilots and aircraft has to be our priority. Of course, it is disappointing that the Lightning II has not arrived in the UK in time for the Air Tattoo, but we fully support the decision not to grant clearance for the aircraft to make their first transatlantic flight to the UK until the technical investigations following an engine failure are complete".
After celebrating their 50th display season at the Air Tattoo, the Red Arrows took the 'Steedman Display Sword'
BAe Hawk T.1 from 208(R) Squadron, part of 4 Flying Training School based at RAF Valley
The Austrian Air Force Saab 105s are always welcome at RIAT, as Sweden is the only other operator of the type and neither are regular attendees
404 Hikotai of the Japanese Air Self Defence Force (JASDF) attended their second Air Tattoo with a single Boeing KC-767 tanker
The Airbus A400M Atlas making an approach at Fairford during its display on Saturday
The 'Paul Bowen Trophy' for the best solo jet demonstration went to the RAF Typhoon display pilot, Flt Lt Noel Rees of 29 Sqn
The unit's two aircraft are seen here departing Fairford on Monday 14th July
Another first-timer at RIAT was the Boeing P-8A Poseidon
Although fairly regular visitors to previous Air Tattoos, this was the first time a J-model C-130 Hercules from the Omani Air Force had visited
Two other Hawks that were in attendance were XX154 (right) from the Empire Test Pilots School and XX162 (left) from the RAFCentre of Aviation Medicine, both based at Boscombe Down
XX154 was the pre-production Hawk aircraft and first flew way back in August 1974
The Polish Air Force (PLAF) 'Fitters' have been conducting role-demos at various European airshows for a number of years, but it was the first time that it was performed at RIAT. This Cold War 'heavy-metal' originates from the earlier Sukhoi SU-7 of the 1950s and was once prolific in WarPac air forces during the '70s and '80s. Today, Poland is the only remaining operator within mainland Europe and still operates two squadrons from Swidwin Air Base. The last time a SU-22 flew at RIAT was back in 1995 with the Czech Air Force; and with the PLAF recently announcing that a service life extension programme would be undertaken on the fleet, hopefully we will get to see it again.
Another aircraft vying for further orders in the maritime patrol category is the CASA 295-MPA
The Portuguese Air Force currently operate five such aircraft with Esquadra 502 at Montijo
There weren't large numbers of helicopters on show at this years event
However the RAF brought along 'Black Peter'
This recently updated 230 Sqn Puma HC.2 from RAF Benson was on display in the static park
Quite a number of Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft attended RIAT, either as static display or support aircraft
This Algerian Air Force C-130H was in the static display and is seen departing Fairford on Monday 14th July
Of similar vintage to the F-16 is the McDonnell-Douglas FA-18 Hornet
This nicely marked Spanish Air Force example from Ala.15 displayed its 'Tiger' markings in the static display at RIAT
Textron-AirLand Scorpion The joint venture between Textron and AirLand Enterprises to develop the Scorpion was formed in 2011. The two-seat, twin-engine Scorpion is designed with the intention of low procurement and operating costs. It is optimized for five hour endurance and is equipped with on-board intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) collectors and weapons, designed to handle low-end missions such as interdiction, quick-reaction natural disaster support and air sovereignty patrols. The company's aim is to field an aircraft capable of operating for less than $3,000 per flying hour; compared to around $25,000 per hour for an F-16. In Afghanistan and Iraq, the US Air Force have used F-15s, F-16s and A-10s for patrols and close air support (CAS) missions in completely uncontested airspace. Clearly a case of over-kill! The company is hoping that the US Air Force will consider purchasing the aircraft, whilst also targeting other markets in South America, Africa and Asia.
An Alenia-Aermacchi C-27J Spartan from both Italy and Lithuania were at this year's RIAT
The Lithuanian aircraft is seen here taxying for departure on 14th July having b een on static display throughout the show
334 Squadron of the Royal Netherlands Air Force based at Eindhoven, sent this C-130H Hercules
It was previously an EC-130Q with the US Navy and had spent a number of years in the AMARG 'boneyard' at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona
The 'As the Crow Flies Trophy', awarded for the best overall flying demonstration
went to the Polish Air Force, flying the Sukhoi Su-22M-4 'Fitter'
Saab Gripens are always welcome visitors, the Swedish Air Force bringing two single-seat and one twin-seat aircraft
The twin-seater from F.7 Wing at Såtenäs is seen above
Having made its debut and last appearing at RIAT in 1998, 'Team Orlik' returned after a 15 year absence
The Polish team's name is derived from the PZL-130 Turbo-Orlik aircraft they fly
As we previously stated, the F-16 anniversary turned into a bit of a damp squib, with less in attendance than normal
However the Norwegian and Danish Air Force's both sent a pair of aircraft to Fairford
As with the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the BAe Hawk also celebrates its 40th Anniversary this year; and strangely enough the participation was muted to say the least. No Finnish aircraft, no Saudi's (both previous attendees at RIAT) or in fact any aircraft from any nations other than the U.K. It has to be said, a somewhat disappointing non-event!
The Aeronautica Militare Italiana have always been strong supporters of past RIAT events and 2014 was no different
Opening Saturday's flying display was this Eurofighter Typhoon in 36º Stormo markings
So despite the non-appearance of the F-35, the show must go on as they say! Another US-aircraft scheduled to make a first appearance at RIAT was the Boeing P-8A Poseidon multi-mission aircraft from VX-1 'Pioneers' at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. The aircraft is based on Boeing's 737-800 airliner and was developed for the US Navy as a replacement for the Lockheed P-3 Orion for use in the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) roles. Delivery to US Navy front-line units has already commenced, along with deliveries to the Indian Navy from May 2013. Australia has also ordered eight P-8s to replace their existing Orion fleet; and it is rumoured that the RAF may purchase the aircraft to provide the UK with a viable maritime patrol aircraft, something very noticeable by its absence since withdrawal of the Nimrod MR.2 fleet in 2010.
RIAT has a tradition of awarding trophies to aircraft and their displays each year; and below are the 2014 award winners
The 'Sir Douglas Bader Trophy', for the best individual flying display, went to Renaud 'Grat' Thys, from 350 Sqn Belgian Air Component
The two Belgian F-16AM Fighting Falcons are seen here departing the show on Monday 14th July
Three PLAF Sukhoi SU-22M-4s attended RIAT 2014
#9102 seen during take-off carrying an enlarged unit marking around the engine intake on the nose
And finally, the 'Best Paint Scheme' award went to this Hellenic Air Force A-7E Corsair II from 336 'Olympos' Sqn
2014 is probably the last time we will see a prototype A400M at a RIAT. With The Royal Air Force due to take delivery of their first two aircraft (MSN15 & MSN16) in September, one would hope that RIAT 2015 will see at least one example from the RAF taking part in the display instead of a protoype aircraft. A further two aircraft will then be delivered to the RAF in 2014 (one in October and one in December), with another eight following on in 2015 to bring the fleet up to 12 by the end of that year.
The Royal Air Force have a total of 22 A400Ms on order, all of
An aircraft that hasn't been seen at RIAT for a few years was the Alenia A-11 AMX
This AMI example although wearing the markings of 32º Stormo, was flown by a pilot from the Reparto Sperimentale Volo (RSV)
The P-8 at RIAT (which also attended the Farnborough International Airshow the following week) had a large contingent of British crew on board; and having spoken to a couple of the Brits' crewing the aircraft, they emphasised that although the P-8 is very much a multi-mission aircraft and not just an ASW/ASuW platform, if you were to compare the capability of the aircraft in purely the ASW/ASuW role alone, it was in their opinion far better and far more capable than the Nimrod MRA.4 would have been had it entered service with the Royal Air Force. When I pushed them on whether or not they thought the RAF would purchase the aircraft I got a resounding "I hope so."
Making a first appearance at RIAT was the Royal Navy Avenger T.1 from 750 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Culdrose
The Avenger is based on the Beechcraft King Air 350ER and is used for observer training of future helicopter crews
Major Apostolos Papadopoulos, commander of 336 Sqn said: "We were very glad to be here, to support RIAT and the Charitable Trust
This is the last time the A-7 will be presented outside Greece and that makes this award very special"
One of the more colourful aircraft at RIAT, making its second appearance in two years is this Estonian Aero L.39 Albatross
Accompanying 'Olympos' was this two-seat TA-7C Corsair II, which sported a slightly glossy camouflage scheme
According to Major Papadopoulos, the unit has two aircraft painted in this non-standard camouflage pattern
which will be delivered to RAF Brize Norton by 2017 and will supplement the existing C-130J Hercules (all of which are slated for withdrawal during 2022). Once withdrawal of the C-130 fleet is complete, the A400s will operate alongside the Airbus A330 Voyager and the Boeing C-17 fleets, to provide the RAF's strategic and tactical transport capability. The first A400 delivered to the RAF will actually be the first aircraft delivered to any nation that has full mission capability (the aircraft delivered to France & Turkey only having a transport capability at present), meaning that as well as a logistical transport capability, they will also be able to complete airdrops and in-flight refuelling.
And finally, the mighty Tornado IDS. Again flown by a pilot from the RSV, the AMI's flight test unit based at Pratica di Mare
The 'Solo Turk' F-16 demo team once again put in a vibrant performance at Fairford
Capt Yusuf Kurt at the controls on the Saturday
Another aircraft scheduled to appear at the FIA the following week was the Textron-AirLand Scorpion
Staying on the transport theme, the Polish Air Force displayed a CASA 295M in the static display, with a couple of others providing support for the Sukhoi SU-22s during the event. #016 is seen departing Fairford on 14th July