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  Royal International Air Tattoo - RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, July 9, 2016

 


Comment -
RIAT 2016 was a vintage year with the USAF back in strength after a prolonged absence from the flying program due to the sequestration budget issues that have plagued the force in recent years. This was partly helped by it being a ‘Farnborough’ year and the continuing maturity of the F-35 Lightning II program with Lockheed Martin and its partners now anxious to show off the qualities of the jet on the international stage. This led to the program featuring flypasts and/or displays from a USAF F-35A, a USMC F-35B (representative of the UK F-35B procurement), the mighty F-22A Raptor (what a machine!) which also preformed a flypast with the F-35A, a F/A-18F Super Hornet and a CV-22B Osprey.

Non-US Fast jet heavy metal was also exceedingly well represented across the display with four Eurofighter Typhoons (RAF, BAE Systems, Italy and Spain), four F-16s (Belgium, Greece, Poland and Turkey) Rafale, Gripen, a Polish MiG-29A Fulcrum and the Mirage 2000N ‘Ramex Delta’ pair from the Armee de l’air.

Of course, RIAT wouldn’t be RIAT without endless grey skies and the Saturday we attended was well blessed with such weather, the only glimmer of blue sky being seen behind the MiG-29 as it performed a roll with everything hanging out. Nonetheless, there was much to photograph and some sunlight would only have been the icing on the cake.

On the ground, although the days of endless rows of classic fighters, bombers and transports are long gone there were still some gems, many enthusiasts favourites being the pair of Hellenic Air Force F-4E Phantom IIs from 339 Mira. One can only dream of seeing an example in the flying display!

Overall, the facilities and displays on the ground matched the variety in the air and certainly kept my sons happy, the only problem being the difficulty of finding a time to leave the crowd-line when something ‘less-interesting’ was flying!

back to airshow photographs from 2016