The Aermacchi M-346FA is a further evolution of the T-346A trainer flown by the Italian Air Force
The aircraft will be equipped with the Leonardo Grifo 346 radar
The RAF Typhoon fleet is gradually losing their squadron markings
This one is flown by 1(F) Squadron at RAF Lossiemouth
The Textro-AirLand Scorpion is designed to perform light-attack and Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) duties
Another Ramstein-based aircraft performing a flypast was the Lockheed C-130J-30 Hercules
Once again the month of July is upon us and it's time for the annual Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, England. Billed as the largest military airshow in the world; RIAT, as it is more commonly known by the thousands of aviation enthusiasts who flock here every year, saw 2017's event celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the United States Air Force. To mark the occasion of the anniversary, the USAF Thunderbirds demonstration team displayed at RAF Fairford with its F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft, the first time they have attended since 2007. The U.S. Air Force has provided the Air Tattoo with its 'home' since 1973, first at RAF Greenham Common and then at RAF Fairford. Without such support it is unlikely the Air Tattoo would be the event it is today. For 2017, the USAF provided its largest contribution to RIAT for many a year, and in our opinion this year's event was the best for some time in terms of the number of aircraft attending, the varied flying display, and the variety of types involved.
A welcome sight in the static park was #ZG750, otherwise known as 'Pinky'
The Tornado GR.4 is becoming a rarer sight in U.K skies as the aircraft's numbers rapidly dwindle in RAF service
#Thunderbird 4, the sole two-seat F-16 that the team brought to RIAT 17
The aircraft is flown by Major Nick Krajicek, a former UH-60 Blackhawk pilot
The 'As The Crow Flies Trophy' for the best overall flying demonstration as judged by members of the Friends of the Royal International Air Tattoo was presented to Sukhoi Su-27P1M pilot Col. Oleksander Oksanchenko of the 831st Guards Tactical Aviation Brigade, Ukrainian Air Force, from Myrhorod Air Base. Col. Oksanchenko said: "Thank you very much for your hospitality, your partnership and to all the guys who organise the Royal International Air Tattoo. A very high standard is set and we are very happy to be here. Everything is well organised. God bless your Queen!"
A first-time visitor to RIAT was the Boeing E-7A 'Wedgetail'
Operated by 2 Squadron, the Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft is from RAAF Williamtown and is built
around the commercial Boeing 737-700 airliner
Staying with the German theme, the Tornado is still operated in relatively large numbers by the Luftwaffe
This aircraft is an ECR version belonging to TLG.51
The second Hellenic Air Force F-4E Phantom from 338 Squadron is seen departing after the show
The USAF 'Heritage Flight' of a P-51 Mustang and an F-22 Raptor
A common sight in the United States, the 'Heritage Flight' aircraft vary in type from one show to another
So there we have it! We spent three days at this airshow including the departures day, and as always, there are far too many aircraft to show everything here, but hopefully I've given you a taster of what the Royal International Air Tattoo is all about? There were plenty of military aircraft from countries all around the globe; some old, some new. One thing is for sure though, after having quite a lot of negative press a few years ago over the cost of attending and the reduced amount of aircraft on display, it is clear that RIAT is back to being the best military airshow in the world, both in size and in the quality of the aircraft on display. RIAT 2018 will commemorate 100 years of the Royal Air Force. Formed on 1st April 1918, the RAF is the oldest independent air force in the world, and RIAT 2018 will celebrate this milestone and the legacy that the RAF, along with its many personnel, both past and present, have created.
#Thunderbird 2, flown by Capt. Ryan Bodenheimer, is captured as it gets airborne from RAF Fairford
This C-160 Transall of the German Air Force was painted to commemorate the 60th anniversary of LTG.61 and is based at Landsberg, Bavaria
The Irish Air Corps have been regular supporter's of RIAT over the years
2017 saw them provide a single Pilatus PC-9M for the static display
U.S AIR FORCE
70th ANNIVERSARY 1947-2017
The most recent of the U.S military to be formed, the U.S Air Force is one of the world's most technologically advanced. Since its formation, the USAF has provided an effective and rapid aerial response whenever and wherever it has been needed. RIAT 2017 celebrated the USAF's anniversary, with probably the largest contribution of aircraft for a number of years. Showing off its prowess, the USAF displayed a wide range of aircraft both in the static and flying displays. From large strategic bombers and state-of-the-art fighter aircraft, to medium and heavy transport aircraft, Special Forces assets and aerial refuelling aircraft, the USAF displayed its vast array of air power, culminating with the Thunderbirds air demonstration squadron flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Static Display Aircraft
Whilst the C-21 Learjet is a regular visitor to the U.K, they are not often seen at RIAT
The aircraft is based at Ramstein, Germany, with the 86th Airlift Wing
The Italian Air Force demonstrated a T-346A Master in the flying display
The aircraft wear's the markings of 61º Stormo, but was flown by a pilot from the RSV
RIAT 2017 was not blessed with display teams in terms of the number involved. However it more than made up for it by the quality that was on show. For many, the USAF Thunderbirds were the highlight of this year's event, but the Midnight Hawks, Couteau Delta and Patrouille Suisse all put on impeccable displays, as did the RAF Red Arrows.
This Polish Navy PZL-Mielec M28B-1R Bryza appeared in the static for the second year running
With Greece being the only air arm in Europe to continue operating the McDonnell F-4 Phantom, their two aircraft were more than welcome visitors to RIAT 2017. The specially marked example above is seen in the static display
The beautiful little Austrian Air Force Saab 105s climb out of RAF Fairford
We'll finish off with a couple more images of the Ukrainian Air Force Sukhoi SU-27s
Above is the single-seat SU-27P1M recovering after its display, the large dorsal air brake much in evidence
A Hercules race at RIAT?
Actually just Jordanian and Dutch Lockheed C-130s heading out for departure, one on the runway and one backtracking down the parallel taxiway
The Couteau Delta tactical display team flies two Dassault Mirage 2000D strike aircraft. Formed in 2017, the team comes from Escadron de Chasse 02/003 'Champagne' and 03/003 'Ardennes', both of which are based at Nancy-Ochey air base. The team brought three aircraft to RIAT 17, all of which wore unique colour schemes
The RAF BAe Hawk fleet is pretty much made up of T.2s now, aside a few T.1s with 100 Squadron and the Red Arrows
The twin-seat SU-27UBM is captured as it departs RAF Fairford for home on 17th July
Another of the RAF's new training aircraft is this Embraer Phenom 100E, which will provide multi-engine pilot training Based at RAF Cranwell, as with the Beech T-6C the aircraft wears its delivery serial, it will become ZM333
Operated by QINETIQ/ETPS at Boscombe Down, this particual Avro RJ70 made its first appearance at RIAT
The German Air Force makes a habit of providing beautifully marked aircraft, both large and small. This Eurofighter 2000A Typhoon from Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 74 (TLG-74) at Neuberg being one such example. The aircraft, dubbed 'Atlantic Tiger' by TLG-74, was painted for the annual NATO Tiger Meet, which was held in Landivisiau, France, earlier this year.
This pristine Fouga Magister is now on the French civil register
The 480th Fighter Squadron from Spangdahlem, Germany, provided two F-16s for the static and also two for the flying display
18 of the unit's aircraft are temporarily deployed to RAF Lakenheath whilst Spangdahlem's runway is repaired
The Czech Air Force Saab JAS 39C Gripen, flown by Capt. Ivo Kardoa¡ from the 211th Tactical Squadron at Čáslav, flew what was judged to be a 'consistently well flown and accurate fast jet demonstration' to win the RAFCTE Trophy for the best flying demonstration by an overseas participant. "It was a wonderful, amazing airshow" said Kardoa¡. "It was the best one I've ever been to, and the best show in the world. Of course it's a great honour with the prize to represent the Gripen, and to represent Saab as well."
Maybe the last time we will see a Belgian Sea King at a RIAT as they are currently being withdrawn
The aircraft gave a nice Search & Rescue (SAR) personnel recovery display
Operating out of RAF Lakenheath with the 56th Rescue Squadron, the Sikorsky HH-60G PaveHawk is another USAF Special Forces asset
This Boeing P-8A Poseidon is from the U.S Navy's VP-16 squadron based at NAS Jacksonville, Florida
On 13th July 2017 the U.K Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, announced that the nine P-8s ordered by the United Kingdom would enter service with 120 and 201 Squadrons at RAF Lossiemouth in 2020
Showing off the tail markings to good effect
This is the second time in recent years that a PakAF C-130 has attended RIAT
Tucano #ZF378 has received a couple of special schemes for the airshow circuit prior to the one above
This latest one is painted to represent a WWII Spitfire
The Slovenian Air Force Pilatus PC-9M display, flown by 1st Lt. Andrej Fiorelli of the 152nd Fixed-Wing Squadron at Cerkjle, won the 'Sir Douglas Bader Trophy' for best individual flying display. "It's a great, great honour to win a prize again and to be a part of the biggest airshow so far for me", Fiorelli said. "I have no words - what can I say? It's unbelievable; the biggest award I can get as a pilot."
Sporting the Finnish national flag, this is the first time the Midnight Hawks have appeared at a RIAT since 2004
The Royal Canadian Air Force provided two aircraft for RIAT '17, this CH-147F Chinook making a first appearance
The helicopter was flown into nearby RAF Brize Norton inside a Boeing CC-177 Globemaster a week prior to the show
It is seen departing to RAF Odiham, where it spent a week flying with the RAF Chinook fleet
Kicking off the show on Friday 14th July, the 3-day event was sold out way in advance, presumably on the basis that 2017 looked likely to be the best show for several years. Whilst there weren't any new countries attending this year, there were several that had not visited for a number of years, plus some real 'gems' included in the flying and static displays; notably the USAF Thunderbirds, F-22 Raptor, U-2 'Spy Plane', B-1 and B-52 bombers; and of the course the very late addition of the Ukrainian Air Force Sukhoi SU-27 in the flying display, which was only confirmed three days before the event. The surprises did not stop there though, with an Israeli Air Force C-130J Hercules arriving unannounced for the static display and a B-2A Spirit 'Stealth Bomber' making an appearance in Sunday's flying display.
The static display included a variety of aircraft, some not seen before, some not seen for a number of years and some carrying special markings. Sadly the two main show days; Saturday and Sunday, suffered from overcast skies and some rain showers, making photography difficult at times. As always, we made sure we were at RIAT on the Monday to photograph the departures, and so many of the images below were taken then, allowing us to benefit from the better weather and also shoot the aircraft without the cluttered backgrounds synonymous with RIAT.
The epitomy of U.S air power; the mighy BUFF!
The B-52H Stratofortress may be a 60-year old design, but it is expected to remain in service until 2040
The amount of moisture during the Saturday display meant the F-22A Raptor generated plenty of vapour trails
One of the French Air Force's 'Couteau Delta' Mirage 2000s blasts out of RAF Fairford
***RIAT AWARD WINNERS***
The mainstay of Air Mobility Command is the Boeing C-17A Globemaster III
Although smaller in size than the C-5 Galaxy, the C-17 is operated in much larger numbers
Completing Global Strike Command's line-up of heavy bombers was an Ellsworth-based Rockwell B-1B Lancer
A German Navy Westland Sea King joined a Lynx helicopter from MFG-5 in the static display
The Sea King is seen as it head's out for departure after the show
The 1st Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Florida, bought two F-22A Raptors to Fairford,
with one taking part in the flying display each day
As with the Cinook, this was the first time a Boeing CC-177 had appeared at RIAT
The aircraft is based at CFB Trenton, Ontario, with 429 Squadron
Large Russian-built hardware is seldom seen at the RIAT in recent years, so although this Ukrainian Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 had visited on previous occasions, it was a more than welcome returnee
Seen in formation with a F-15C Eagle of the 48th Fighter Wing from RAF Lakenheath, the B-2A Spirit was a surprise visitor on the Sunday, flying from its home base of Whiteman, Missouri, just to perform a demo at RIAT
The B-2 returned to Whiteman straight after its short display
RAFCTE Chief Executive Andy Armstrong presented his own special RIAT CEO Award for an outstanding contribution to the show, to the US Air Force Thunderbirds, who's F-16 Fighting Falcons deployed across the Atlantic especially to appear in the USAF 70th anniversary tribute. Lt .Col. Kevin Walsh, the team's Director of Operations said; "It's a huge honour. With the field of other participants you have at this airshow, we couldn't be happier. There was a great team effort just to get the whole team overseas and in the air - to get us to put on a different demonstration out here we had to change our rules and change our display a little bit to fit the mould here. We thought we did well with it."
Seen departing the show is the Royal Air Force's new basic flying training platform, the Beechcraft T-6C Texan II
Owned by Affinity Flying Training Services, Affinity signed a contract with the U.K Ministry of Defence to supply and support three fleets of training aircraft within the U.K Military Flight Training System (UKMFTS)
The T-6 departed back to the U.S.A still wearing its civilian serial, it will become ZM323 when delivered in 2018
The 'King Hussein Memorial Sword' awarded for the best overall flying demonstration, went to Capitaine Jean-Guillaume 'Marty' Martinez. Flying the French Air Force Dassault Rafale C from Escadron de Transformation 03/004 'Aquitaine' at Saint-Dizier, the judges called his display 'faultless, flowing and dynamic'. His display last year won him the award for the best solo jet demonstration and after his 2017 success, Marty commented; "I'm really happy because it's a wonderful prize. It was difficult due to the weather, but I tried to do my best. We have a nice jet and I'm well-trained to do it."
As would be expected, the Airbus A400M is now becoming a familiar sight at RIAT, with four examples in attendance for 2017; one from the German Air Force, an Airbus prototype in the flying display and two RAF examples in the static.
A RAF example from 70 Squadron is seen climbing out of Fairford to make the short hop to nearby RAF Brize Norton
Due to the high level of security surrounding the Israeli C-130J Hercules, no announcement of the aircraft was made in advance of its arrival. The 103 Squadron aircraft was however 'open' to the public during the show, giving visitors a rare chance to get up close and personal with an air arm rarely seen outside of its own borders
Sadly, RIAT 2017 was plagued with grey skies throughout much of the flying display,
resulting in many displays being restricted due to the low cloud base
A Pakistan Air Force Lockheed C-130E Hercules powers out of Fairford
The Italian Air Force Panavia A-200A Tornado of the Reparto Sperimentale Volo (RSV) flight test centre was awarded the prize for 'Best Livery', as voted for by FRIAT members. The aircraft's weapons systems operator, Colonel Paolo Fiorella said; "We painted this aircraft for the 60th anniversary of our squadron. Winning this award here is a dream come true. A lot of magazines around the world are talking about us and it's important so people know how the Reparto Sperimentale Volo works and what we do."
Boeing-Vertol CV-22B Osprey from the 352nd Special Operations Squadron
Participating in both the static and flying displays, the Osprey provides Special Forces units with a unique capability
The Lockheed U-2S 'Spy Plane' displayed in the static park, has not been seen at a RIAT for quite some time
The aircraft are however regular visitors to RAF Fairford as they transit through the base on their way to and from the detachment at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus
The Dassault Alphajet trainer is still flown in large numbers by the French Air Force
These two are from EAC 314 at Tours
The Slovenian Air Force displayed its sole Let L.410UVP-E in the static area
The aircraft is from the 152nd Fixed-Wing Squadron
A winner for the second year running at RIAT, was Major Dan 'Rock' Dickinson of the US Air Force's 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, for his Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor demonstration. Winning the 'Paul Bowen Trophy' for the best jet demonstration, judges said the Raptor's performance was a 'consistently accurate, powerful and superbly executed solo jet demonstration'. "This is just absolutely awesome", said 'Rock', "especially on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Air Force. Again, to be representing the United States Air Force and the F-22 Raptor, our team is just humbled and honoured to win such an outstanding award, and especially to see some of the past names that are on that trophy."
It's not often that you see an F-16 Fighting Falcon use a brake chute
A regular performer at recent RIATs, Solo Turk is captured after completing its display
The USAF Thunderbirds performed at RIAT for the first time in ten years
The Thunderbirds have been in existence for 64 years, forming at Luke AFB, Arizona, on 25th May 1953
The special scheme on this Czech Air Force Aero L.159 ALCA is painted to resemble the Spitfire 5B of
General Frantisek Perina, a WWII 'ace' and patron of the 212th Tactical Squadron
The 'Midnight Hawks' fly the British Aerospace Hawk T.51
Based at Kauhava, the team is formed from aircraft and pilots of the Finnish Air Force's fighter training school
As mentioned earlier, four A400M transports were at RIAT 2017
This German Air Force aircraft is from LTG.62 based at Wunstorf