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RIAT 2011
 
RIAT 2011
 
Hawk 65 - 8807 - Royal Saudi Air Force   JAS 39 Gripen - 89825/825 - F7 - Swedish Air Force   JAS 39C Gripen - 39200/200 - F7 - Swedish Air Force   L100-30 - HZ-128 - Royal Saudi Air Force
 
C-160D Transall - 50+93 - Lufttransportgeschwader 61 - German Air Force   Mirage 2000C - 80/103-LI - EC 01.012 - French Air Force   Tornado ECR - 46+33 - Jagdbombergeschwader 32 - German Air Force   F-16CJ Fighting Falcon - 91-0352/SP - 22 Fighter Squadron - United States Air Forces in Europe
 
IL-76D - 78820 - Ukrainian Air Force

RIAT2011 "The 40th Anniversary Show"


Words and photographs by Stuart Freer.

Few airshows can rival the sheer size and excitement of the Royal International Air Tattoo as aircraft and aircrew from around the world descend on RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire for an annual, global celebration of aviation.

Upwards of 100,000 visitors and support from the Royal Air Force and some of the world's leading aerospace companies, the Royal International Air Tattoo is acknowledged as the world's largest military airshow.

The Royal International Air Tattoo has come along way in it's forty years of existance, from it's humble beginnings at North Weald to the show that it is today at RAF Fairford. Back in 1971 a group of enthusiasts headed by Tim Prince & Paul Bowen came up with the idea of inviting airforces from around the world to raise money for the RAF Association. This first show had only six overseas air forces taking part in the Tattoo, with around 80 aircraft on display. By contrast, in 2003 more than 500 aircraft represented more than 40 British and international air arms.

Forty years on and the airshow has changed in more ways than one. With the current economic climate in the world, gone are the days when air forces would send an abundance of aircraft. In the boom years you would be able to see lines & lines of KC-135 Stratotankers & C-130 Hercules adoring the static. In 2011 it's more about quality rather than quanity.

The 40th Anniversary show was held over the weekend of the 16th & 17th July. The main themes for this year show were  STAR 11 (Strike, Attack and Reconnaissance), Tiger 50 (The 50th Anniversary of the Tiger Meet) & the 40th Anniversary of RIAT itself. The STAR theme was chosen to show the ongoing combat operations in a number of threatres around the globe. Tiger 50 celebrated the 50th anniversary of the NATO Tiger Association which was officially formed in 1961.

I feel the themes over the past few years have struggled to obtain the relevant aircraft and this was to be the case again this year with a number of cancellations. I personally think the organisers should do away with them.

 
Saab 105 - C/Blue - Fliegerregiment 1 - Austrian Air Force   Sukhoi SU-27UB - 96310418207/Blue 75 - Ukrainian Air Force   P-3C Orion - 161406 - VP-30 - United States Navy   B-52H Stratofortress - 61-0014/MT - 23 Bomber Squadron - United States Air Force
 
Hawker Hunter FGA9 - G-PSST - Privately Owned   Hawker Hunter T68 - HB-RVV - Hunterverein - Switzerland   IL-76D - 78820 - Ukrainian Air Force   OV-10B Bronco - G-BZGK - Privately Owned
 
Sukhoi SU-27UB - 96310418207/Blue 75 - Ukrainian Air Force
 
RIAT 2011
 
B-52H Stratofortress - 61-0014/MT - 23 Bomber Squadron - United States Air Force   Hawker Hunter FGA9 - G-PSST - Privately Owned   F-16AM Fighting Falcon - FA87 - 1 Wing - Belgian Defence - Air Component   F-16AM Fighting Falcon - FA87 - 1 Wing - Belgian Defence - Air Component
 
Mirage 2000N - 375/125-CL - EC 03.004 - French Air Force   E-6B Mercury - 166406 - VQ-4 - United States Navy   Harvard - KF183 - QinetiQ - Aircraft Test & Evaluation - Royal Air Force   Hawk 65 - 8814 - Royal Saudi Air Force
 
B-52H Stratofortress - 61-0014/MT - 23 Bomber Squadron - United States Air Force
 
C-17 Globemaster III - ZZ177 - 99 Squadron - Royal Air Force   Mirage 2000C - 80/103-LI - EC 01.007 - French Air Force   Mirage 2000N - 375/125-CL - EC 03.004 - French Air Force   F-16AM Fighting Falcon - FA-87 - 1 Wing - Belgian Defence - Air Component
 
Tornado GR4 - ZA600 - 41 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force   Hawk T1 - XX245 - 19 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force   EF2000 Typhoon T3 - ZJ802/QO-B - 3 Squadron - Royal Air Force   AH-64 Apache - Q-17 - 301 Squadron - Royal Netherlands Air Force
 

Undoubtedly the stars of the show were the Ukrainian Air Force, bringing a Sukhoi SU-27UB Flanker in a striking blue and grey colour camouflage scheme from the 831st Tactical Aviation Brigade based at Myrhorod Air Base and its support aircraft an Ilyushin IL-76 MD from the 25th Transport Aviation Brigade based at Melitopoll Air Base. The organisers need to be congratulated on all the hard work behind the scenes to get these iconic Russian types to attend.

The U.K forces were represented by there oldest and newest aircraft in there inventory. Noorduyn AT-16 Harvard IIB KF183 first entered service in May 1944 after a period of time with training units it eventually made its way to the Boscombe Down in Wiltshire with the A&AEE in 1953; it still resides there today amazingly with Qinetic. It is the oldest military aircraft still in active service with any air arm in the world, a very welcome addition to the static display.

Moving onto the Royal Air Forces latest accusation. The RAF’s largest aircraft was officially unveiled and named Voyager over the weekend of the show. The dual role air-to-air tanker and tanker aircraft has a 60 meter wingspan and is over 60 metres in length. It can carry almost 300 troops with a range of over 6,000 miles and will replace the long serving VC-10 and Tristar respectively.

At the naming ceremony, U.K Defence Secretary Liam Fox stated that “This magnificent aircraft is the future for the RAF’s air-to-air refuelling and passenger transport capability for the coming decades. Voyager together with the C-17, C-130J and the A400M transport aircraft, will provide the RAF with a truly world class fleet of aircraft, underpinning the global reach that is vital to our operations.” The RAF has bought fourteen Voyagers a converted Airbus A330-200 airliner - under a 27-year private finance initiative contract worth £10.5bn with the AirTanker consortium.

Also making it's debut at Fairford was the CASA C-295 AEW demonstrator which had only flown for the first time at the beginning of June.

Previous shows had always managed to secure commemorative & special colour schemes and 2011 was to be no different. Towards the western end of the static park, there was a nice collection of tiger aircraft for the 50th Anniversary of the Tiger Meet, suitably adored with tiger stripes. There were also a number of Anniversary schemes on show, one of the highlights being 41(R) Squadron’s beautifully marked Tornado GR4 from RAF Coningsby in Linconshire, celebrating the squadrons 95th Anniversary.

MB339 - Freece - 2° Stormo - Frecce Tricolori - Italian Air Force
 
EF2000 Typhoon FGR4 - ZJ700 - QinetiQ - Aircraft Test & Evaluation - Royal Air Force   EF2000 Typhoon FGR4 - ZJ700 - QinetiQ - Aircraft Test & Evaluation - Royal Air Force   EF2000 Typhoon FRG4 - ZJ700 - QinetiQ - Aircraft Test & Evaluation - Royal Air Force   Avro Vulcan B2 - G-VLCN - Vulcan to the Sky Trust - United Kingdom
 
Rafale C - 118/113-IW - EC 01.007 - French Air Force   Rafale C - 118/113-IW - EC 03.007 - French Air Force   F-16 Fighting Falcon - J-015 - F-16 Solo Display Team - Royal Netherlands Air Force   Avro Vulcan B2 - G-VLCN - Vulcan to the Sky Trust - United Kingdom
 
Tornado ECR - 46+33 - Jagdbombergeschwader 32 - German Air Force
 
A-10/OA-10A Thunderbolt II - 82-0649/SP - 81 Fighter Squadron - United States Air Forces in Europe   A-10/OA-10A Thunderbolt II - 82-0649/SP - 81 Fighter Squadron - United States Air Forces in Europe   A-10/OA-10A Thunderbolt II - 82-0649/SP - 81 Fighter Squadron - United States Air Forces in Europe   Avro Vulcan B2 - G-VLCN - Vulcan to the Sky Trust - United Kingdom
 
Tucano T1 - ZF378 - 72 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force   Tornado GR4 - ZA410/016 - 15 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force   Tornado GR4 - ZG750/128 - 15 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force   Hawk T1 - XX244 - 208 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force
 
Rafale C - 118/113-IW - EC 01.007 - French Air Force
 
MB339 - Freece Tricolori - 2° Stormo - Frecce Tricolori - Italian Air Force   MB339 - Frecce Tricolori - 2° Stormo - Frecce Tricolori - Italian Air Force   MB339 - MM54479/10 - 2° Stormo - Frecce Tricolori - Italian Air Force   MB339 - MM54337/7 - 2° Stormo - Frecce Tricolori - Italian Air Force
 
Hawk T1 - The Red Arrows - The Red Arrows - Royal Air Force   Hawk T1 - The Red Arrows - The Red Arrows - Royal Air Force   Hawk T1 - XX306 - The Red Arrows - Royal Air Force   Hawk T1 - XX306 - The Red Arrows - Royal Air Force
 
Avro Vulcan B2 - G-VLCN - Vulcan to the Sky Trust - United Kingdom
 
Chinook HC2 - ZH895/HJ - 18 Squadron - Royal Air Force   Chinook HC2 - ZH895/HJ - 18 Squadron - Royal Air Force   Apache AH1 - ZJ232 - 673 Squadron - Army Air Corps   AH-64D Apache - Q-17 - 301 Squadron - Royal Netherlands Air Force
 
C-101 Aviojet - Patrulla Aguila - Patrulla Aguila - Spanish Air Force   Extra 300 - JY-RFC - Royal Jordanian Falcons - Royal Jordanian Air Force   C-27J Spartan - CSX62219/RS-50 - RSV - Italian Air Force   C-20H Gulfstream IV - 90-0300 - 76 Airlift Squadron - United States Air Forces in Europe
 
Hawk 65 - 8808 - Royal Saudi Air Force
 
RIAT 2011
 
Sukhoi SU-27UB - 96310418207/Blue 75 - Ukrainian Air Force   F-16CJ Fighting Falcon - 91-0352/SP - 22 Fighter Squadron - United States Air Forces in Europe   F-16CJ Fighting Falcon - 91-0366/SP - 22 Fighter Squadron - United States Air Forces in Europe   Rafale C - 118/113-IW - EC 01.007 - French Air Force
 
C-130H Hercules - 354 - 3 Squadron - Royal Jordanian Air Force   C-130H Hercules - 502 - 16 Squadron - Royal Air Force of Oman   CASA CN-295AEW - EC-295 - CASA   OV-10B Bronco - G-BZGK - Unknown
 
A-10/OA-10A Thunderbolt II - 82-0649/SP - 81 Fighter Squadron - United States Air Forces in Europe

Moving onto the flying display. On the Saturday morning the U.K woke to torrential rain, the organisers must have been concerned of a repeat of 2008 when the show had to be cancelled due to inclement weather leading up to the show. Luckily the band of rain passed through come Saturday lunchtime, but this caused a problem to the flying display schedule. The air show director was caught between a rock & a hard place, do they stick with the flying schedule or change it around to show some of the more exotic items which were supposed to have displayed during the morning, it really was a no win situation. In the end they stuck to the schedule.

Starting of the proceedings were the Turkish Air Force debuting with there F-16 Fighting Falcon demonstration, sadly only being able to taxi down the runway because of the very low cloud base. It did manage to perform it’s full display routine on the Sunday and this display was given the ‘King Hussein Memoral Sword’ for the best overall flying demonstration. The Saudi Air Force aerobatic team the ‘Saudi Hawks’ were also making there debut in the U.K with six BAE Hawk 65’s a very welcome addition to the flying.

Returning to the flying programme after a number of years away was the Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 81st Fighter Squadron ‘Panthers’ based at Spandehlem AB in Germany. Flown by the West Coast A-10 Demo Team pilot Captain Joe Shetterly. The display was the perfect role demostration to show off the full capability of this close air support aircraft, though Saturday’s display had to be cut short due to technical difficulties.
Another impressive demostration came from the Italian Air Force with there C-27J Spartan with an incredable routine of loops & rolling manoeuvres. The crew deservedly won the ‘Sir Douglas Bader Trophy’ for the best individual flying display and the ‘As the Crow Flies Trophy’ voted by the FRIAT members.

A month before the start of RIAT 2011 there was to be no RAF Typhoon display because of there commitments in Libya’s ‘Operation Ellamy’. Seeing as the show is sponsored by BAE systems, they realized that it would have been slightly embarrassing to not have there prized asset on show, particularly when there main competitor in the export market for fighter sales Dassult were displaying there Rafale. So a couple of weeks before the show BAE Test pilot Mark Bowen from Warton, worked up a routine on ZJ700 Typhoon IPA5 & most impressive it was too.

As for the Rafale display it received the ‘The Paul Bowen Trophy’ for the best solo display and was presented to its pilot, Captain Michael ‘Mikael’ Brocard, which he fully deserved with an outstanding display.

 
Tornado - 46+33 - Jagdbombergeschwader 32 - German Air Force   Tornado - 45+51 - Aufklärungsgeschwader 51 - German Air Force   Tornado GR4 - ZG750 - 31 Squadron - Royal Air Force   C-101 Aviojet - E25.22 - Patrulla Aguila - Spanish Air Force
 
Pilatus PC-3 - HB-RCL - PC-3 Flyers   Pilatus PC-3 - HB-RCL - PC-3 Flyers   Hunter FGA9 - ZZ191 - Fleet Requirements and Air Direction Unit - Royal Navy - Fleet Air Arm   Hawk T1 - XX287/287 - 19 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force
 
Hunter FGA9 - ZZ190 - Fleet Requirements and Air Direction Unit - Royal Navy - Fleet Air Arm
 
AS550 Ecureuil - 5387/UY - EH 05.067 - French Air Force   A-109 Hirundo - H38 - Wing Heli - Belgian Defence - Air Component   F-16BM Fighting Falcon - ET-199 - Eskadrille 730 - Danish Air Force   F-16AM Fighting Falcon - E-194 - Eskadrille 730 - Danish Air Force
 
F-16AM Fighting Falcon - FA-87 - 1 Wing - Belgian Defence - Air Component   Mirage 2000C - 80/103-LI - EC 01.007 - French Air Force   Saab 105 - RF-26 - Fliegerregiment 1 - Austrian Air Force   Hawker Hunter T68 - HB-RVV - Hunterverein - Switzerland
 
Voyager - MRTT016 - QinetiQ - Aircraft Test & Evaluation - Royal Air Force
 
Touchdown Conclusion
 
RIAT’s 40th Anniversary show didn’t quite live up to the billing but was still a fantastic show with an excellent flying display. The static was a slight disappointment with a lot of last minute cancellations and down on numbers, but this was to be no surprise with cash strapped air arms and with the on going military operations.

Crowd figures were also down to 138,000 over the two days, with tough financial times for a lot of people this was to be expected.

But one thing is for sure it is still the biggest and most exciting military airshow held in the world and long may it continue.
 
Next year’s event will be held over the weekend 7th & 8th July celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and Skylift 2012 which will showcase modern, versatile and long-range transport aircraft.
 
 
The author wishes to thank Laura Iles and Richard Arquati, Press & Publicity Officers, RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises.
 
Touchdown Rating - 4 out of 5
 
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