Featured image: Avro Vulcan B2 XH558 and Red Arrows
The Royal International Air Tattoo 2015, more commonly known as RIAT, was held at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire from 17th to 19th July 2015. The show, held annually, is organized with the support of the Royal Charitable Trust and has become the world’s largest military air show attracting approximately 150,000 to 160,000 people each year.
This year’s three day spectacle attracted approximately 200 aircraft from 19 different nations.
Royal Air Force Fairford, or more simply RAF Fairford is currently a standby airfield and is therefore not in everyday use. The airfield is home to United States Air Force 422nd Air Base Group and 501st Combat Support Wing. In recent years, the airfield has housed United States Air Force Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bombers for use in recent conflicts including 2003 Iraq War, Operation Allied Force in 1999 and the first Gulf War in 1991. It is the United States Air Force’s only European airfield for heavy bombers.
As well as the B-52, appearances can be made at RAF Fairford by other USAF aircraft including Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit and Lockheed U-2.
The main theme for this year’s air show was “Securing The Skies: Past, Present & Future”. To ties in with this them, 2015 also sees the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The battle took place between July and September 1940 and proved to be one of the turning points of World War Two.
To celebrate this, a massed flypast of Supermarine Spitfires, Hawker Hurricanes, Hispano HA-1112 Buchons (Spanish built Messerschmitt 109s) and a Bristol Blenheim took place in memory of The Few
The modern day Royal Air Force also celebrated this landmark anniversary with a synchro display by Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 ZK349 from 29(R) Squadron at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, suitably painted into RAF camouflage scheme. The typhoon flew in tandem with RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Supermarine Spitfire Mk IIa P7350.
Another anniversary being celebrated was the 35th anniversary since the introduction of the Tri-National Tornado Training Establishment.
The Tri-National Tornado Training Establishment, or TTTE, was a multinational air unit based at RAF Cottesmore in Rutland from 1981 to 1999. It was responsible for the training of thousands of aircrew destined to fly the Panavia Tornado in service with the Royal Air Force, German Luftwaffe and Bundesmarine and Italian Aeronautica Militare. Initially, pilots received four weeks of training on the ground which was then followed by nine weeks in the air.
To commemorate this anniversary, a special three-ship flypast was organized with an example from each nation. A special tail fin design to celebrate the anniversary was shown of the public.
Two international display teams opened and closed for eight hour display on both the Saturday and Sunday. The Spanish Air Force National Aerobatic Team Patrulla Aguila” with their seven CASA C-101EB Aviojets”