Demonstrating the amount of moisture in the air, the F-22 Raptor expels lots of 'fluff' as it pushes high-g during its display
The F-35A Lightning II commences its display at RIAT '16. The A-model is the conventional take-off and landing variant
The three aircraft at this year's Tattoo were from the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona
This Swiss F-5E #J-3038 was a frustrating aircraft for many. Nicely painted in the colours of 19 Staffel, it acted as a spare for the Patrouille Suisse, who had 'lost' an aircraft in a recent crash. Frustrating in the fact that it didn't fly during the show, but was not on static display either. It spent the duration over the far side of the airfield and was only able to be photographed on arrival or departure after the show
Performing for the last time anywhere in the world, the 'Ramex Delta' team from the French Air Force once again gave a storming performance at RIAT 2016. Flying a pair of Dassault Mirage 2000N aircraft from Escadre de Chasse 02/004 'La Fayette', the team went home with two awards tucked under their belt; 'The RAFCTE Trophy' for the best flying demonstration by an overseas participant, and 'The Best Paint Scheme Award' for the outstanding work applied to aircraft #353/125-AM. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Escadrille de Lafayette-a French squadron made up of mostly American volunteers fighting in World War One; hence the aircraft being adorned with the 'Stars and Stripes'. Upon receiving the award, one of the pilots, 'Pierrot', said: "We are very proud, because it was very special to attend this year's RIAT. This was our last airshow ever, and it was a great deal of pleasure for us to fly today. For us - the pilots, the team, the squadron - it's a special honour because this year is the 100th anniversary of our squadron, the 'La Fayette' squadron. It's a good ending to the incredible experience that was Ramex Delta."
'Team Orlik' of the Polish Air Force returned to the Air Tattoo after a one year absence
Named after their PZL-130TC Orlik aircraft, the aircraft is the basic training aircraft of the Polish Air Force
They are based at Radom-Sadkow Air Base with 42 BLSz
Another aircraft intended for Farnborough was this U.S Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon, Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA)
It was announced the following week, that the British Government had signed a contract to purchase nine of the aircraft for the RAF
The C-160 Transall will soon start to become a less common sight around Europe as France and Germany withdrawal their fleets
Slowly being replaced by the A400M, this German Transall sported an all-white scheme used for UN Peace Keeping missions
The ever popular Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG.29 seen landing after its display, with the obligatory brake-chute deployed
'Gizmo' blasts the Belgian Air Component F-16AM into the air as he kicks off his display
RAF Fairford's link to the Air Tattoo dates back to 1985, when the U.S Air Force stepped-up to stage the first IAT at the base. Prior to that, Air Tattoos had been held at RAF Greenham Common near Newbury in 1973, '74, '76, '77, '79, '81 and 1983, by which time over 200,000 people attended the show each year. With Greenham Common undergoing construction to house cruise missiles, a new home for the Air Tattoo was required and so RAF Fairford became the new venue.
So with no less than 45 years of experience under its belt, 2016 was 'ready to roll', and nothing could have been more welcome than when history was made on the evening of June 29th, when three F-35B Lightning II's made their first ever trans-Atlantic crossing in order to attend the Air Tattoo. Travelling from Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort, South Carolina, the fifth generation stealth fighters arrived at RAF Fairford after a nine hour flight. One of the F-35Bs was from the Royal Air Force and was piloted by Squadron Leader Hugh Nichols, accompanied by Lt. Col. Richard Rusnok and Maj. Jack Cronan piloting the two Marine Corps F-35Bs.. Following the safe arrival of the three F-35Bs on the Wednesday, the following evening saw three more F-35s make the transatlantic crossing to RAF Fairford, this time it was the A-model from the United States Air Force (USAF). The F-35B featured on all three display days at this year's RIAT and also flew alongside the Red Arrows and two RAF Typhoons in a unique joint flypast on each day. On the Friday only, the F-35B also took part in an in-flight refuelling demonstration with a U.S Marine Corps Lockheed KC-130J Hercules.
The Polish F-16 displayed at RIAT for the first time in 2016
In similar fashion to the Typhoon above, Tornado GR.4 #ZG771 from RAF Marham was also in the static display
With numbers dwindling in the Tornado fleet, it won't be long before we will no longer see what has become a familiar sight over the years
Having displayed in 2015 with the Avro Vulcan
2016 saw the 'Reds' team up with a F-35B Lightning II and a BAe Typhoon GR.4
'Smoke on, burners on'
Solo-Turk puts the F-16 through it paces
The two Ramex Delta Mirages depart Fairford on the Monday after the show,
sadly never to be seen in action again-'Au Revoir'
Three A400Ms attended this year's event, the most ever
As the aircraft enters service with more operators, no doubt the aircraft will become a familiar sight at future Air Tattoos
Mid-display, the Frecce Tricolori solo aircraft is seen 'splitting' the main team of nine aircraft
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said of the F-35, "The F-35s are the most advanced fast-jets in the world. Whether operating from land or from one of our two new aircraft carriers-the U.K's largest ever-they will ensure we have a cutting edge and formidable fighting force. The plan for the F-35 to take part in air shows here in the U.K this summer is a significant milestone-for our RAF and Royal navy personnel training hard to fly the F-35; for British industry who are contributing an impressive 15 per cent of every aircraft; and for the British public who will have their first opportunity to see this remarkable aircraft in action." During its display the F-35B, the short take-off/vertical landing version of the aircraft, demonstrated the hover capability that enables it to operate from both austere airfields and aircraft carriers.
Displaying at RIAT featuring the latest weapons fit, the British Aerospace (BAe) Typhoon FGR.4 won the 'Steedman Display Sword' for the best flying demonstration. The Steedman Sword is awarded in honour of the late Air Chief Marshall Sir Alasdair Steedman, Chairman of the IAT 1981-88. Pilot Nat Makepeace, demonstrated the aircraft carrying four 'Meteor' beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missiles, six 'Brimstone' low collateral precision strike weapons, two ASRAAMs (advanced, short-range, air-to-air missile) and two Paveway IV laser-guided precision weapons. BAe's Typhoon Experimental Test Pilot, Nat Makepeace said; "This is one of the first times a Typhoon has flown with this weapons fit and it demonstrates the significant milestones which have been achieved towards integration of these new capabilities onto Typhoon, providing the combat pilot with a full range of capabilities. The Typhoon provides air forces with a highly capable and extremely agile multi-role combat aircraft, capable of being deployed in the full spectrum of air operations. The display will also demonstrate that even with this weapons fit, Typhoon loses none of the incredible agility and manoeuvrability for which it is known."
A 'rare' visitor to RIAT was this Royal Norwegian Air Force Dassault Falcon 20ECM from 717 Skvadron
The aircraft is operated in the electronic warfare role
RAF Mildenhall provided some U.S Air Force support for the event from both the 352nd Special Operations Wing and the 100th Air Refueling Wing
This 352nd SOW Lockheed MC-130J Hercules was on show alongside one of the unit's CV-22 Ospreys
There weren't many helicopters at this year's show, but making its first appearance was this Croatian Air Force Mil Mi-171Sh
The helicopter came as support for the Krila Oluje (Wings of Storm) display team
In addition to the flying display over the three days, a large number of aircraft are also to be found in the static display at RIAT, many of which often wearing specially painted colour schemes to commemorate anniversaries or events. Due to the amount of 'clutter' in the background of many of the aircraft on static display, we like to photograph the aircraft on arrival or departure to RAF Fairford whever possible, so here's just a few of the aircraft seen at RIAT 2016:-
With the Farnborough International Airshow coinciding with RIAT every two years, there's always some additional display aircraft available
One such visitor for 2016 was the Boeing FA-18 Super Hornet, which gave another high performance display to the massed crowds
RAF Fairford, U.K
Making a welcome return to the Air Tattoo was the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)
This was the first time an Airbus KC-30A MRTT aircraft from the country had attended
Having been on static display, the Dutch Chinook team did their best to put on a small show as they departed for home
In the static display, the Pakistan Hercules had a transfer mural added to the aircraft's fuselage as seen in the image above
Turkish support has normally consisted of either a C-160 Transall or a C-130 Hercules
This year, a KC-135R Stratotanker provided support to 'Solo-Turk' on both the inward and outward legs of their journey to RIAT
Ala 14 Wing at Albacete-Los Llanos air base performed a nice display with the Eurofighter 2000, known as the Tifón in Spanish circles
Ala 14 currently has just one operational squadron at present, with a second expected to form once sufficient numbers of aircraft are available
A popular aircraft at RIAT every time it appears is the Polish Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG.29 'Fulcrum'. First flown in 1977, it was a formidable foe back in its day and gave NATO a lot think about in terms of its capability and how to counter it. The rugged, but very agile and capable design would have proved more than a match for its NATO counterparts, . The Polish Air Force received their first MiG.29's in 1989, yet the type still remains in frontline service with two wings, still providing Baltic Air Policing in the region. The aircraft displaying in 2016 came from 1 Eskadra Lotnictwa Taktycznego based at Malbork.
Since its introduction into service in December 2005, the F-22 has proved that it is a formidable air-to-air platform, but it also now has an effective air-to-ground capability using a range of precision guided weapons, with the aircraft making its combat debut over Syria in September 2014. The F-22 Demo Team was awarded the 'As the Crow Flies Trophy' at this year's event. This particular trophy is awarded by FRIAT members for their choice as the best overall flying display.
A welcome return to the Air Tattoo came in the shape of this Lockheed CP-140M Aurora from 415 Squadron at Greenwood, Nova Scotia
A version of the P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft, the Royal Canadian Air Force has been a long-time supporter of the Air Tattoo
As well as displaying an Osprey in the static park, one also took part in the flying programme each day
Both aircraft were from the USAF's 352nd Special Operations Wing at RAF Mildenhall
The Polish Navy PZL M28 Bryza appeared in this non-standard white/grey colour scheme
It also sported a nice commemorative tailfin
The Belgian Air Component (BAC) 'F-16AM Solo Display Team' has been a regular at RIAT for a number of years. Currently flown by Commandant Tom 'Gizmo' De Moortel, Gizmo has more than 4,000 hours of total flight time to his name, with over 1,500 on the F-16 alone. The Lockheed-Martin F-16 aircraft that he flies wears a spectacular colour scheme dubbed 'Blizzard' and is provided by 10 Wing based at Kleine-Brogel. This is Gizmo's second year as the BAC's F-16 display pilot. The display is relatively short, but very dynamic, due to the low-level, high-G manoeuvres flown.
Full military power is applied as the Rafale displays it afterburners at RIAT 2016
Spanish C-130 Hercules' have not been regular support aircraft at RIAT
More often than not an Airbus/CASA 235 or 295 having been used
'Let it all hang out'
The F-35B looks somewhat ungainly when in the hover mode. However there is no doubting the amount of power provided by the engine
The Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100 producing over 40,500lbs of thrust in the vertical flight mode
So without doubt RIAT 2016 was a huge success; all three days of the airshow itself were completely sold out and despite the sometimes slightly inclement weather, the flying displays by and large were a great success. RIAT 2016 added to the list of countries that have attended the show for the first time, new aircraft such as the F-35 also debuted in 2016, whilst the show also attracted some interesting aircraft for the aviation enthusiast to see and photograph, which from our perspective is what it's all about! Suffice to say, I think this was probably the best RIAT for some time and hopefully a sign of things to come. I'd like to say a huge thanks to all involved and with the 2017 dates already set (14-16th July), as well as the fact that 2017 is the 70th Anniversary of the U.S Air Force hopefully means that next year will be even better; and who knows, we might even see the F-35 back again??
In its last season, Ramex Delta flew with this black Mirage 2000N, displaying the Indian Head of 02/004 Escadre de Chasse
Although similar in appearance to the CASA 295M, the CASA 235 MP of the Irish Air Corps has a very different role
The slightly smaller 235MP is a maritime patrol aircraft. Note the Forward Looking InfraRed (FLIR) turret under the nose
Static Display Aircraft
A Dassault-Breguet Alphajet trainer from EAC 314 of the French Air Force
Two aircraft from the training unit based at Tours attended the show
Eurofighter #30-68 makes a dynamic departure after the show and shows off it's nice paint-job
The scheme was designed by German artist Walter Murer
The F-35s no doubt caused a stir amongst aviation enthusiasts, but the appearance of the mighty 'Rhino' caused a tidal wave!
When it was announced that two Hellenic Air Force F-4E Phantoms would participate at RIAT 2016, ticket sales must have doubled overnight
In comparison to the RAAF KC-30A, the RAF Voyager is also based on the Airbus A330 commercial airliner
However, the Voyager does not have the refuelling 'boom' at the rear of the aircraft and so is only able to provide air-to-air refuelling using the hose and drogue method
The Italian Air Force aerobatic team, the Frecce Triccolori, is officially known as 313º Gruppo Addestramento Accrobatico. Proclaimed as the world's largest aerobatic team with ten Aermacchi MB.339PAN two-seat trainers, the team attended their first Air Tattoo in 1976 at Greenham Common. The team, which is based in Rivolto, then few the Fiat G.91 aircraft, converting to the MB.339 six years later in 1982. It has been announced that the team will convert to the Alenia-Aermacchi M-345 trainer around 2018, but in the meantime, the Frecce continue to provide an exhilarating show with their aging 339s.
Now there was a lot of debate as to whether or not this is an actual X-47B UCAV or a plastic mock-up
Either way, it appeared in the Northrop-Grumman enclosure and shows to good effect the Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS)
The Luftwaffe achieved 60 Years in existence in 2016, with a number of their aircraft being adorned with a fairly low-key logo to commemorate it
One of their recently delivered A400M transports from LTG.62 was on static display
In normal flight mode the F-35B is an impressive aircraft and despite all the negative talk about it, the cost over-runs
and numerous problems it has encountered, I know for a fact a lot of people now have a different attitude to the aircraft
The Royal Jordanian Air Force Lockheed C-130 Hercules has become almost a permanent resident at RIAT
The Jordanian's have supported the Air Tattoo virtually from the outset
Carrying four 'Meteor' air-to-air missiles, six 'Brimstone' ground-attack weapons, two ASRAAMs and two Paveway IV LGBs,
BAe Typhoon Experimental Test Pilot, Nat Makepeace, kicks-off his display with the Typhoon GR.4
One of the U.S Marine Corps F-35Bs gets airborne for its first display outside of the United States
The Lightning II was demonstrated by Major Will 'D-Rail' Andreotta, an Instructor Pilot (IP) at Luke AFB
Major Andreotta previously flew F-16s and converted to the F-35 in 2013
The French Air Force Socata TBM.700 above has been a regular visitor to previous shows, both as a support aircraft and as a display item
The French Air Force also managed to add to Ramex Delta's awards, when the Dassault Rafale from ETR 02/092 'Aquitane' bagged the 'Paul Bowen Trophy' for the best solo jet demonstration. The trophy is awarded as a tribute to Paul A. Bowen (1947-2004), a co-founder of the Royal International Air Tattoo. The Rafale has taken over in the last year or so from the ever popular Mirage 2000C demonstration provided by the French Air Force. As the Mirage 2000s are reduced in number, with the Rafale becoming the primary interceptor at the same time, the French deem it more appropriate to demo their state-of-the-art weapons system. The RIAT judges said that Capitaine Jean-Guillaume Martinez, in his first season as the Rafale display pilot, had put on "a consistently accurate, powerful and superbly executed solo jet demonstration". Handing over the 'Paul Bowen Trophy' to Ramex Delta was Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Chief of the Defence Staff designate.
Amongst the many RAF Typhoons at the show was this 41(R) Test & Evaluation Squadron aircraft from RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire
#ZK315 received the scheme to commemorate 100 Years of the unit, one of many RAF squadrons commemorating their centenary in 2016
As with RIAT every year, a number of support aircraft arrive and depart the show, providing much needed equipment and personnel for the ground crews to maintain and handle the aircraft on display. Most of these support aircraft tend to arrive and depart on the days building up to the show, or on the Monday after the show, when the majority of aircraft depart for home. Some do on occasion remain in situ as additional static display aircraft, but more often than not return home for the duration of the show. Here's a little taster of what was on offer for this year's event:-
The Eurofighter, Typhoon, Tifón or whatever you want to call it, was at RIAT in abundance this year, with no less than 17 on display
Three of these came from the Spanish Air Force, which provided both a flying and a static example
If anyone can be relied upon to provide an awesome scheme for the NATO 'Tiger Meet', it's the Belgian's
2016 was no different, as can be seen above on 31 Smaldeel's F-16AM Fighting Falcon
With the Hawk T.1 fleet almost withdrawn from RAF service, the Fleet Air Arm continue to fly a small number with 736 Naval Air Squadron
The aircraft are now at last being painted with a squadron 'flash' on the tailfin and Royal Navy code on the nose of the aircraft
As if the six F-35s in the U.K weren't enough to get the crowds excited, the U.S Air Force also brought two Lockheed-Martin F-22A Raptors from the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base (AFB), Virginia. Having made its first visit to RIAT in 2008, the year the show cancelled due to bad weather, it returned again in 2010 and made its first U.K public air display. This year, Major Dan 'Rock' Dickinson of the F-22 Demo Team showed off the Raptor's capability during his displays, with the aircraft's thrust-vectoring engines demonstrating that the Raptor is without doubt the most effective 5th generation fighter in service anywhere in the world today. Major Dickinson is a Raptor Instructor Pilot with the 1st Fighter Wing, having been part of the very first F-22 basic course back in 2008 at Tyndall AFB, Florida, which he completed as a 'Distinguished Graduate'. He was then assigned for four years to the 94th Fighter Squadron at Langley and has over 800 hours flying the F-22A Raptor.
The Flying Display
The United States Air Force F-22A Raptor shows off its weapons bay
The Czech Air Force CASA 295M was a strange visitor, as no Czech aircraft attended the airshow
We can only presume that there were some VIP/military officials in attendance and that the aircraft came to collect them?
Returning to RIAT after a couple of year's absence was the Pakistan Air Force, with one of their Hercules transport aircraft
The aircraft is seen departing after the show, with some nice vortices pouring from the propellers in the damp air
The F-35B is equipped with the innovative Rolls-Royce LiftSystem, and powered by the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine. the LiftSystem is comprised of several components, including a powerful LiftFan behind the pilot, which generates about 20,000lbs of downward thrust form unheated air. The Lift-Fan swallows enough air to empty a squash court in just over one second and is connected to the engine via a shaft and advanced gearbox. At the rear of the aircraft is the unique 3-bearing swivel module, which can rotate downward in only 2.5 seconds, providing an additional 18,000lbs of heated thrust. For control and stability, a Rolls-Royce roll post provides nearly 2,000lbs of thrust under each wing. Together, the components provide enough thrust to lift 17 Mini cars into the air, whilst the gearbox transmits more torque than is required to turn the London Eye.
'Solo-Turk' displayed once again in 2016 with the F-16C from 141 Filo (Squadron)
Unlike in recent years, the team now has two aircraft painted in the team's colours
The final award handed out at RIAT 2016 was the 'Sir Douglas Bader Trophy'. Given out for the best individual flying demonstration, the award was won by Capt. Peter Fallén of the Swedish Air Force Saab JAS-39C Gripen of F.7 Wing. The trophy awarded to the Gripen 'team' is in honour of the famous World War II Spitfire pilot Sir Douglas Bader, who was President of the IAT between 1976-82. the light-weight Gripen has now been in service with Sweden for some 20 years, firstly as the JAS.39A/B, then the current JAS.39C/D. The latest JAS.39E was recently 'rolled-out' for the first time and it is planned that the E-model will replace the C-model completely by 2026.
The Airbus A400M display was flown by an Airbus owned aircraft
It is seen here demonstrating what can only be described as an awesome take-off
Proving that the Polish Air Force has fully integrated into NATO in recent years is the fact that they also fly the Lockheed-Martin F-16 'Block 52' Fighting Falcon. As with the older MiG.29, two wings of the Air Force fly the aircraft. Poland purchased 48 F-16C/D models and they are one of the most capable aircraft in the current NATO inventory. Displaying at RIAT for the first time, Captain Robert 'Bluto' Gatzka from 31 Baza Lotnicza Taktycznego (31 BLT) based at Poznañ/Krzesiny, was trained by the Hellenic Air Force's 'Team Zeus' and showcased the F-16 as the 'Tiger Demo Team'.
The Patrouille Suisse have been regular visitors to RIAT for many years, firstly with the Hawker Hunter and then the Northrop F-5
The Swiss have been looking to replace the F-5 for some time now, so we're not sure how much longer the team will continue with the aircraft
The Royal Air Force of Oman have attended previous RIATs, if somewhat infrequently
However, this was the first time that one of the recently delivered Airbus/CASA 295 transport aircraft had been on show
With July upon us once again, Jetwash Aviation Photos made its annual pilgrimage to RAF Fairford for the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT). Excitement began to build for this year's event as early as January, when Lockheed-Martin Tactical Aircraft Services (LMTAS) announced that the F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter/JSF) would make its debut at an airshow outside of the United States. Many will of course remember that this was scheduled to happen back in 2014, but was curtailed due to some mishaps with the aircraft programme. LMTAS had announced that the F-35s would cross the Atlantic to demonstrate at both RIAT and Farnborough airshows. With the first of a total of 138 F-35B versions scheduled to enter service in 2017 with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm, LMTAS planned to bring both the F-35A and B-models to the U.K to demonstrate in front of the British public. As it turned out the Dutch managed to usurp RIAT by getting two F-35s for the Royal Netherlands Air Force show at Leeuwarden in June, however RIAT managed to achieve a line-up of no less than six F-35s; three U.S Air Force F-35As, two U.S Marine Corps F-35Bs and a single Royal Air Force F-35B, with both aircraft types taking part in the flying display. As with the previous couple of years, RIAT continued with a three day event, something which now appears as if it will be the standard format from hereon in. Sadly the good old British summer could be relied upon to ensure little sun was available during the event, being plagued with overcast skies during the majority of the show.
Talking of 'Team Zeus', their F-16C Fighting Falcon is seen heading for home on the Monday after the show, having given another crowd pleasing display at RIAT on both days of the show
Making its display debut in the United Kingdom at this year's RIAT, the 'Krila Oluje' (Wings of Storm) performed their display flying six Pilatus PC-9M turbo-prop trainers (seen above). Becoming the 56th nation to participate at RIAT, the team was supported by a single Russian-built Mil Mi-171Sh helicopter, which was displayed in the static park. The team departed Fairford on the Monday after the show, with the 'King Hussein Memorial Sword' awarded for the best overall flying demonstration, making their debut at RIAT all the more rewarding. The trophy is awarded in honour of the late King Hussein of Jordan, who was the patron of the IAT between 1983-1999. The Wings of Storm recently re-formed after the original pilots left the team to join up with the air arm of Qatar. The team is based at Zadar-Zemunik Air Base. The team's award was bestowed upon them for, in the words of the citation, "Precision aerobatics in challenging conditions incorporating novel manoeuvres". Team leader Lt. Col. Damir Barišić said: "We are very happy to be among all these friends, all these people who share the same passion for 'old-school' flying in these days when everything is becoming unmanned and automatic. Of course it's a big honour to receive such an award, especially on the first occasion we've been here."
As well as taking part in the flying display, the Swedish Air Force's F.7 Wing at Såtenäs also displayed a twin-seat Gripen D in the static display
The Saab Gripen has now been in service with the Flygvapnet for 20 years
'The Cyber Tiger' powers out of Fairford on its way back home to Neuburg
The aircraft had been on display alongside the aircraft below, both operated by TaktLwG-74, the 'Bavarian Tigers'
Based with 117 Combat Wing at Andravida, the F-4 is a rare sight in Europe nowadays, if not around the world
One of the two Greek aircraft is seen here departing the show. The hope being this will not be their last visit
One of Ramex Delta's three Mirage 2000Ns displays its delta-wing profile to the crowds
Air Commodore Harvey Smyth, the RAF Lightning Force Commander said of the F-35; "Unlike our previous combat aircraft, the Lightning II will be able to do many different roles, everything from air-to-air, to strike and attack roles, right through to intelligence gathering. It can do multiple missions, all at the same time. In the near future, the F-35 will replace the RAF Tornado fleet and provide the RAF with its first stealth attack capable aircraft. From a technological point of view, Lightning II is pushing the field." Operating in a fully-integrated force with the Royal Navy from land bases and the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, the F-35 Lightning II will give U.K air defence an enhanced expeditionary combat air capability well into the 2030s.
Post-event, a special presentation was made by Air Tattoo Chief Executive Andy Armstrong. His own RIAT CEO Award for an outstanding contribution to the show, went to all involved in the debut of the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning II deployment to Britain. The star attraction at RIAT 2016, involving F-35A models from the US Air Force and F-35Bs from the U.S Marine Corps and the Royal Air Force, was the subject of a great deal of planning by a host of individuals and organisations on both sides of the Atlantic. Andy Armstrong said: "It was an amazing display. They brought six jets, and it was an extraordinary amount of effort to bring them. We were so pleased to have them here."
The X-47B is a tailless, strike fighter-sized unmanned aircraft developed by Northrop Grumman as part of the U.S Navy's UCAS Carrier Demonstration Programme. Under a contract awarded in 2007, the company designed, produced and is currently flight testing two X-47B aircraft. In 2013, these aircraft were used to demonstrate the first ever carrier-based launches and recoveries by an autonomous, low-observable unmanned aircraft. In April 2015, the X-47B successfully conducted the first ever Autonomous Aerial Refuelling (AAR) of an unmanned aircraft. AAR unlocks the full potential of what an unmanned surveillance, strike and reconnaissance system can do in support of the Navy. The X-47B is designed to help the U.S Navy explore the future of unmanned carrier aircraft, and the programme is setting the stage for the development of a more permanent, carrier-based fleet of unmanned aircraft.
Continuing to provide service alongside the Lightning II when it enters U.K service will be the BAe Typhoon GR.4
An aircraft from 1(F) Squadron is seen on departure on the Saturday of the show
The 'Stars' of the Show