RIAT RAF Fairford 2017: Preview
14th - 16th July 2017
USAF Thunderbirds' only 2017 UK display will be at RIAT
Reputed to be the biggest military airshow in the world, RIAT features modern military and classic aircraft, static and flying, from many continents.
The 2017 Air Tattoo will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the US Air Force and partnerships between the many players in the defence and aviation communities.
As part of the airshow's tribute to mark the US Air Force's 70th anniversary, the six F-16 Fighting Falcons of the USAF Thunderbirds will make a rare trip across the Atlantic to display at RIAT - their only UK appearance in 2017 and their first at RIAT since 2007. As part of the same theme, Lockheed Martin's F-22 Raptor has also been confirmed. The Raptor entered service with the USAF in December 2005 but did not perform its first UK flying demo until 2010.
Air Tattoo Chief Executive Andy Armstrong said:
"Very few aircraft can match the cutting edge capabilities demonstrated by the F-22 so we're really pleased to be able to welcome it back this year. We were the first airshow in the UK to showcase the Raptor and were lucky enough to secure it again in 2016. Its display at both airshows proved hugely popular and I'm confident its display will surpass expectations yet again.
"Without the support of the US Air Force, the Air Tattoo would not be the huge success it is and one way we can demonstrate our gratitude is to stage a fitting salute to mark the air arm's significant anniversary."
In another coup for the show this year, the US Air Force has also confirmed that two of its largest and most formidable aircraft will be flying into RAF Fairford, its only European airfield for heavy bombers, to take part in the Royal International Air Tattoo this summer. The aircraft, a B-52H Stratofortress and a B-1B Lancer will both be on static display.
A long range strategic bomber, the B-52 entered service with the US military in the 1950s and became a frequent sight in the Cotswolds' skies during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, Operation Allied Force in 1999 and Operation Desert Storm in 1991 when they operated out of RAF Fairford. The first operational B-1B flew with the US Air Force in 1986 and provided the air arm with a long range bomber that was both fast and manoeuvrable. It was last seen at the Air Tattoo in 2009. The B-52H will come from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and the B-1B from Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota.
The Air Tattoo's links with the US Air Force stretch back to 1972 when the Americans permitted the airshow to be staged at RAF Greenham Common, near Newbury. When the Air Tattoo had to find a new home in the 1980s, the US Air Force offered RAF Fairford and the first Air Tattoo was staged in the Cotswolds in 1985. Air Tattoo spokesman Richard Arquati said:
"The US Air Force has played an important role in our history and has helped us become the greatest military airshow in the world. We're both committed to ensuring that July's anniversary celebrations continue to be both memorable and exciting for what will undoubtedly be another sell-out airshow."
The US Air Force is also sending to both the flying and static displays a CV-22B Osprey, a unique tiltrotor machine capable of flying like both a helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft, which has made it successful as a Special Forces transport. Also from the USAF on static display will be two F-16C fighter jets; the MC-130J Commando II tactical transport and tanker aircraft, used to support Special Operations alongside the 'Osprey' and a C-17A Globemaster.
The United States Navy will be showcasing the world's most capable maritime patrol aircraft, the Boeing P-8A Poseidon, on the ground at Fairford. The aircraft is on order for the Royal Air Force, who will take delivery of their first example from 2019, based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.
Other national teams at RIAT will be the Red Arrows, the Midnight Hawks from Finland and the Patrouille Suisse, the aerobatic team of the Swiss Air Force, with their six F-5E Tiger IIs. The Belgian Air Component will be there in strength with two static aircraft and two flying: the F-16 and the Westland Sea King. Their F-16 Fighting Falcons are among the oldest still in service, but thanks to major upgrades they remain very capable fighters and a flamboyant display act. Belgium's Air Component operates 54 single seat F-16AMs and twin seat F-16Ms. The F-16AM for the flying display will be flown by Cdt Tom 'Gizmo' De Moortel, in his third and final display season.
Rail engineering work
Because of engineering work, on Friday 14 and Saturday 15 July buses will be running between Chippenham and Swindon.
On Sunday 16 July, buses will be running between Westbury/Bath Spa and Swindon via Chippenham. Full details
The Belgian Sea King will feature in a search and rescue demonstration. Much missed in the UK, this will also be one of the last occasions on which such a display will be seen at a British event as the Sea King is being phased out by other nations, too. The two static aircraft from the Belgian Air Component will be a second F-16 and a C-130H Hercules transport.
More rotaries come from the Finnish Army and the Royal Air Force. The RAF Chinook display team will be back with their show-stopping display and the Finnish Army will be showing their NH90 Tactical Transport Helicopter in the static park. It is only the second time in the UK they have brought it to a UK airshow, the last at RIAT some four years ago.
There will be Saab Gripen fighters from at least three national air forces. The Czech Air Force will be returning to the Air Tattoo with one Saab JAS-39 Gripen and two L-159 ALCAs for the flying display and another L-159 on static. The Swedish Air Force will display a solo Saab JAS-39C Gripen, their primary fighter, and will have a 'D' variant in the static park. The Swedish Air Force is the largest operator of the Gripen; a relatively small, lightweight machine by modern standards which is able to operate from shorter runways than many otherwise similar fighters. Another Saab JAS-39 Gripen will be displayed in the static park by the 'Puma' squadron of the 59th Tactical Fighter Wing of the Hungarian Air Force based at Kecskemét. (... continued below the table)
|Due to fly (tap / hover over icon for more detail)|
|National aerobatic teams|
|USAF Thunderbirds (US Air Combat Command)|
||Patrouille Suisse (Swiss Air Force)|
||Midnight Hawks (4 x BAe Hawks) (Finnish Air Force)|
||Red Arrows (All days) (RAF)|
|Royal Jordanian Falcons|
|Fighters / Attack|
||Typhoon FGR.4 (RAF)|
| x2||EF-18AM Hornet x2 (Spanish Air Force)|
||F-16AM (Belgian Air Force)|
|F-16 Soloturk (now confirmed)|
|F-22 Raptor (USAF)|
||Couteau Delta: Mirage 2000D pair (French Air Force)|
||Rafale Solo (French Air Force)|
|x2||Saab JAS-39 Gripen x2 (Czech Air Force)|
||Saab JAS-39 Gripen (Swedish Air Force)|
||Tornado A-200 (Italian Air Force)|
||Aero L-159 Alca x2 (Czech Air Force)|
|WAH-64D Apache (AHDT)|
||Westland Sea King Mk48 (Belgian Air Force SAR demo)|
||BBMF Lancaster (BBMF)|
| x4||BBMF Spitfire x4|
||P-51D Mustang 'Tall in the Saddle' (Hangar 11)|
|P-51D Mustang (Comanche Fighters)|
||P-40 Kittyhawk 'Lulu Belle' (Hangar 11) CANCELLED|
|Sally B *|
|Airbus A400M (displayed by Airbus)|
||C-27J Spartan (Italian Air Force)|
|CV-22B Osprey (US Air Force)|
||M-346 Master (Italian Air Force)|
|Pilatus PC-9M (Slovenian Air Force)|
|Saab J105Öe (Austrian Air Force)|
|* Any aircraft marked with a * have been announced by the operator but not confirmed by the show.|
The show's own list is here
|Additionally the following are due to be on static display|
|B1-B Lancer Heavy Bomber (USAF)|
|B-52 Stratofortress Heavy Bomber (USAF)|
|Lockheed P-3C Orion maritime patroller (German Navy) CANCELLED|
|A109E Power (QinetiQ)|
|A400M (German Air Force)|
|Alpha Jet x2 (French Air Force)|
|Alpha Jet (QinetiQ)|
|Airbus EC-135 P2+ training helicopter (German Navy)|
|Apache WAH-64D (Army Air Corps)|
|Westland Sea Lynx utility helicopter (German Navy)|
|Wildcat AH.1 (Army Air Corps)|
|Wildcat HMA.2 (Royal Navy)|
|Sea King Mk 41 (German Navy)|
|F-4E Phantom (Hellenic Air Force)|
|C-130H Hercules (Belgian Air Force)|
|C-130H (Royal Jordanian Air Force)|
|C-130H-30 (Royal Netherlands Air Force)|
|C-130E Hercules (Pakistan Air Force)|
|C-130J-30 Hercules (Qatar Emiri Air Force)|
|Defender 4000 (Army Air Corps)|
|Do-228 (Royal Netherlands Air Force)|
|F-16AM (Belgian Air Force)|
|EC-1135P (Irish Air Corps)|
|H135 Juno HT.1 (RAF)|
|H145 Jupiter (RAF)|
|PC-9M (Irish Air Corps)|
|PC-9M (Slovenian Air Force)|
|Puma HC.2 (RAF)|
|Aero L-159 Alca (Czech Air Force)|
|Eurofighter EF2000/T x2 (German Air Force)|
|Tornado PA2000 (German Air Force)|
|Transall C-160D (German Air Force)|
|Tucano T.1 (RAF)|
|Saab J105Öe (Austrian Air Force)|
|NHIndustries NH90 TTH (Finnish Army)|
|Let 410 (Slovenian Air Force)|
|CL-604 (Royal Danish Air Force)|
|Viking TX.1 (RAF)|
|Vigilant T.1 (RAF)|
|Voyager KC2/3 (Royal Air Force)|
|C-17A (US Air Force)|
|CV-22B Osprey (US Air Force)|
|MC-130J Commando II (US Air Force)|
|F-16C (US Air Force)|
|P-8A Poseidon (US Navy)|
|KC-767J (Japan Air Self Defence Force)|
|Bronco OV-10 and Skyvan (Bronco Demo Team)|
|Jet Provost JP.5 (Jet Aerobatics)|
|Saab JAS-39D Gripen (Swedish Air Force)|
|Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen (Hungarian Air Force)|
|C-27J Spartan Transport (Lithuanian Air Force) CANCELLED|
|Antonov AN-28B1R Maritime Surveillance (Polish Navy)|
|A400M Atlas C.1 (RAF)|
|C-17A Globemaster lll (RAF)|
|Tornado GR4 (RAF)|
|Typhoon FGR.4 x2 (RAF)|
|Hawk T.1 (Royal Navy)|
|Hawk T.1A (RAF)|
|Hawk T.2 (RAF)|
|King Air 200/350 (RAF)|
|King Air / Avenger T.1 (Royal Navy)|
|Merlin HC3/3A (Royal Navy)|
|Merlin HM.2 (Royal Navy)|
|Sea King ASaC.7 (Royal Navy)|
|Squirrel HT.1 (RAF)|
|Griffin HT.1 (RAF)|
|E-7A Wedgetail (Royal Australian Air Force)|
|CC-177 Globemaster (Royal Canadian Air Force)|
|CH-147F Chinook (Royal Canadian Air Force)|
|Beech 18S (Carlo Ferrari)|
|BN-2T Islander (Britten Norman)|
|C42a x2 (AirBourne Aviation)|
|DA-42 Twin Star (Airways Aviation)|
|DA-40 Diamond Star (Bruno Stoker)|
|EV-97 Eurostar SL (RAF Halton)|
|EV-97 Team Eurostar (RAF Halton)|
|Global 6000 (Bombardier)|
|Grand Caravan EX (Textron)|
|P2002-JF Sierra (RAF Halton)|
|P2008JC x2 (RAFFCA)|
|Provost T.1 (Shuttleworth Collection)|
|RANS S6 Coyote|
|TB20 Trinidad (Bruno Stoker)|
|All appearances are subject to technical, weather and other constraints|
The static park will also feature several aircraft from East Europe. As well as the Czech and Hungarian Gripens, a PZL-Mielec M28 Bryza 1R maritime surveillance aircraft, a development of the Antonov An-28 with Western engines and many other enhancements, will be displayed by the Polish Navy and the Lithuanian Air Force will be sending a Leonardo C-27J Spartan airlifter from its Transport Squadron at Šiauliai.
The German Air Force are not sending any aircraft to participate in the flying but there will be four from the Luftwaffe on static display. These are two Eurofighter EF2000s, a Transall C-160D and a Panavia Tornado. The Italians, though, will be flying. They have three varied items for the display including M-346 Master jet trainer, the amazingly manoeuvrable C-27J Spartan and the iconic Tornado fighter.
The Austrian Air Force was one of the foreign participants at the very first RIAT in 1971. They have displayed since then, latterly in 2014, and are back again in 2017. This time they are bringing a pair of Saab 105Ö jet trainers, one for a solo flying display and another for the static park.
Airshows at RAF Fairford
RAF Fairford was built in 1944, towards the end of the second world war, mainly to provide an airfield for British and American troop carriers and gliders for the D-day landings. After the war it was one of four airfields chosen as a base for the USAF Strategic Air Command and in the 'cold war' era served as a USAF strategic bomber base.
The airfield played a role in several foreign military interventions, such as Libya in 1986, the Gulf war in 1991 and the Iraq war in 2003, but by 2010 all military personnel had been withdrawn. It nevertheless retains its status as a designated standby airfield, capable of reactivation within 48 hours.
Fairford's runway is over 3,000M long and has an unrestricted load capacity, so it can take any kind of aircraft. It served for eight years as a test centre for the Concorde and was also the only UK abort landing site for the American space shuttle.
Other flying and static displays
RIAT invariably features displays that will not be seen anywhere else in the UK, generally including many prestige solo and formation displays by air forces from Europe, Scandinavia and the Middle-East. In 2015 RIAT had 247 aircraft from 19 different nations. In 2016 there were over 230 aircraft, from 24 countries. In 2016 the Croatian air force made its debut: the 56th nation to participate since the Air Tattoo was first held in 1971, cementing the reputation of RIAT airshow as truly international.
As well as flying displays there are more static displays than anywhere else. The 2003 RIAT was recognised by the Guinness Book of World records as the largest military air show ever, when 535 aircraft attended.
The full list of nations invited to participate is here.
Grandstand improvements but no Pitzone
Following complaints about the changed Viewing Village and Friends grandstands in 2016, the 2017 contract has been awarded to the supplier of the more spacious and practical 2015 grandstands. The popular Pitzone has been removed for 2017.
Tickets for Friday and Sunday are available but sell quickly and usually sell out some time before the event. All tickets for Saturday have already sold out. Under 16s attend free when accompanied by a ticket-holding adult. Parking is free and there is a special area for people with disabilities. You can buy 'Park and View' tickets to see arrivals and departures before and after show dates. Camping in tents and motorhomes is also available and some Saturday prices have recently been reduced. There is more detail about RIAT camping. There is more general information about tickets in the right margin on this page and the full range of tickets is on the RIAT ticket page.
The F-35 made its international show debut at RIAT 2016
The 2016 Air Tattoo took a look into the future under the main theme "The Next Generation: Inspiring Innovation". Like the show at RAF Cosford, there was a focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) related initiatives, with participation from organisations involved in STEM as well as in air arms, aircraft operators, aerospace and technology companies. Another theme shared with the airshow at RAF Cosford was the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Air Cadet Organisation.
The full list of nations invited to participate was published very early in the 2016 season. RIAT was originally the only UK show to get the USAF F-22 Raptor until it became a very late addition to the Flying Legends airshow at Duxford. The F-22, which entered service in 2005, was last at RIAT in 2010. This year it was flown by Maj Daniel 'FFits' Dickinson of the F-22 Demo Team.
|Flying Schedule (tap / hover over icon for more detail)|
|Airbus A400M (Airbus Defence & Space) (8th, 9th & 10th)|
| ||AgustaWestland HH-101A Caesar (Italian Air Force) CANCELLED|
|Apache: (AAC Attack Helicopter Display Team)|
|Apache Demo Team (Royal Netherlands Air Force)|
|BAC Strikemaster Mk82A (NWMAS - Mark Petrie) (8th only)|
|BBMF Spitfire, Hurricane (8th, 9th & 10th)|
|Bell-Boeing CV-22B Osprey (USAF SOS) (8th, 9th, 10th)|
|Black Cats (Wildcat HMA.2 x2) (RN) (8th, 9th & 10th)|
|Bölkow Bo105P (German Army Aviation)|
|Dassault Rafale C (French Air Force)|
|Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 (RAF) (8th, 9th & 10th)|
|Eurofighter Typhoon F-2000 (Italian Air Force)|
||Eurofighter Typhoon (BAe Systems) (8th, 9th & 10th)|
||Eurofighter Typhoon F-2000 (Spanish Air Force) (9th & 10th)|
||Extra 330SC (Breitling SA) (9th & 10th)|
||F-16C Soloturk (Turkish Air Force)
||F-16, Zeus Demo Team (Hellenic Air Force)
||F-16A MLU (Belgian Air Component)|
||F-16C 'Tiger' (Polish Air Force)|
||F/A-18 Super Hornet (US Navy) (9th & 10th)|
||F-22A Raptor (USAF)|
||F-35A (x2): Lockheed Martin F-35A (x2) (USAF)|
||F-35B (x2): Lockheed Martin F-35B (x2) (US Marine Corps)|
||F-35: Lockheed Martin F-35 (UK) (not yet confirmed by RIAT)|
||Frecce Tricolori (AT-339A x10) (Italian Air Force)|
||Hercules: Lockheed Martin KC-130J Hercules refueller (US Marines)|
||King Air Display Team (RAF) CANCELLED|
||MiG-29A (Polish Air Force)|
||MiG-29AS (Slovakian Air Force) CANCELLED|
||Orlik Team: PZL-130TC-2 Orlik x 8|
||P-51D Mustang (Heritage Flight) (8th, 9th & 10th)|
||Patrouille Swiss (F-5E Tiger II x6) (Swiss Air Force)
||Ramex Delta Team (AMD Mirage 2000N) (French Air Force)|
||Red Arrows (Hawk T1 x9) (RAF) (8th, 9th & 10th)|
||Royal Jordanian Falcons (Extra 300L x4)|
||Saab JAS 39C Gripen (Swedish Air Force Historic Flight)|
||Wings of Storm (6 Pilatus PC-9M) (Croatian Air Force)|
||Wingwalkers (9th & 10th) (3 flying. 4th static)|
|AgustaWestland AH-64D Apache (US Army)|
|Airbus A310 MRTT (German Air Force) CANCELLED|
|Airbus A330 Voyager tanker (RAF)|
|Airbus A400M (German Air Force)|
|Airbus (Eurocopter) EC-135P2 helicopter (German Navy)|
|Airbus KC-30A Tanker (Royal Australian Air Force)|
|Airbus Squirrel helicopter (RAF)|
|Antonov AN-26 (Hungarian Air Force) CANCELLED|
|Antonov AN-28B1R / M28 Bryza (Polish Navy)|
|Apache (Army Air Corps)|
|Avro Anson C.19 (BAE Systems)|
|Beech 18S (Carlo Ferrari)|
|Beechcraft King Air Avenger T1 (750 Naval Air Squadron)|
|Beechcraft King Air 350 SM (Textron Aviation)|
|Beechcraft AT-6B (Textron Aviation)|
|Bell-Boeing CV-22B Osprey |
|Blackburn B-2 (BAE Systems)|
|Boeing 757-22QC (Royal New Zealand Air Force)|
|Boeing Stearman (Breitling Wingwalkers) (1 static, 3 flying)|
|Bölkow Bo105P (German Army Aviation)|
|Bristol Scout (David Bremner)|
|Cessna 208 Grand Caravan (Textron Aviation)|
|Chinook CH-47 (RNAF)|
|C-130H Hercules (RNAF) CANCELLED|
|C-130J Hercules (RAF)|
|C-130H Hercules (Royal Jordanian Air Force)|
|C-130H Hercules (Belgian Air Component)|
|C-130E Hercules (Pakistan Air Force)|
|C-27J Spartan (Lithuanian Air Force)|
|C-295M (Royal Air Force of Oman)|
|CN235-100 Maritime Patrol (Irish Air Corps)|
|CP-140 Aurora (Royal Canadian Air Force)|
|Cessna 172N (Professional Flight Training)|
|De Havilland DHC-1 Chipmunk x8 (civilian)|
|De Havilland DH-60 Cirrus Moth (BAE Systems)|
|Dornier Do228 (German Navy)|
|Dornier Do228 (R Netherlands Coastguard)|
|Dassault Falcon DA20 ECM (Royal Norwegian Air Force)|
|Eurofighter Typhoon EF2000/T x3 (German Air Force)|
|Eurofighter Typhoon F2000 (Italian Air Force)|
|Eurofighter Typhoon EF2000 (Spanish Air Force)|
|Evektor-Aerotechnik C-42B Ikarus (microlight)(RAF Halton Flying Club)|
|Evektor-Aerotechnik EV97 Eurostar (RAF Halton Flying Club)|
|F-4E Phantom (x2) (Hellenic Air Force)|
|F-15C Eagle (US Air Forces Europe)|
|F-15E Eagle (US Air Forces Europe)|
|F-16AM (Belgian Air Force)|
|Falcon DA20 ECM (Royal Norwegian Air Force)|
|Grob Tutor (RAF)|
|Gulfstream G550 (Civilian VIP Transport)|
|Hawk T.1 (736 Naval Air Squadron)|
|Hawk T.1 (RAF)|
|Hawk T.2 (RAF)|
|Hawker Hunter F.58A (Hawker Hunter Aviation)|
|Hawker Sea Hurricane 1B (Shuttleworth Collection)|
|Jet Provost T5 XW324 (Jeff Bell / Jet Aerobatics)|
|KC -135R (US Air Force Special Operations)|
|KC-767J Tanker (Japan Air Self Defence Force)|
|KDC-10 (RNAF) CANCELLED|
|Lockheed P-3C Orion (German Navy)|
|MiG-29AS (Slovakian Air Force) CANCELLED|
|MiG-29AS/UBS (Slovakian Air Force) CANCELLED|
|Mil Mi-171 (Croatian Air Force)|
|North American OV-10B Bronco (Tony de Bruyn / Eureka Aviation)|
|P-8 Poseidon (US Navy)|
|Piper L-21B Super Cub (Belgian Air Component) CANCELLED|
|Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen (Hungarian Air Force) CANCELLED|
|Saab JAS-39D Gripen (Swedish Air Force)|
|Scottish Aviation Bulldog T.1 (High G Ltd)|
|Shorts SC-7 Skyvan (Tony de Bruyn / Eureka Aviation)|
|Socata TB20 Trinidad (Bruno Stocker)|
|Supermarine Spitfire TR.9 (Boultbee Academy)|
|Textron AirLand Scorpion (Textron Aviation)|
|Tornado PA200 IDS/ECR x2 (German Air Force)|
|Tornado GR.4 x2 (RAF)|
|Transall C-160D (German Air Force)|
|Typhoon FGR.4 x2(RAF)|
|Vintage gliders (see text)|
As well as the Raptor, five F-35s from the USAF and US Marine Corps were at the show, one of only two airshows to get the F-35 in 2016, the other being the Farnborough International Airshow. Two USMC F-35Bs and one RAF F-35B were in the main F-35 flying display. The USAF also featured a Heritage Flight formation flypast comprising F-35A, F-22 and Mustang 'Miss Helen'. There was also a F-35 Lightning II on static in the southside operational area at some times over the three-day weekend.
The US Marine Corps added a great spectacle to the international début of the F-35B by demonstrating the new fighter's ability to refuel in mid-air. The Marines flew one of their KC-130J Hercules tankers in close formation with the F-35 to perform an air-to-air refuelling simulation during the F-35B's display.
The United States enhanced that already significant presence at this year's Air Tattoo by reprising the Bell-Boeing CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor provided by the 352nd Special Operations Wing based at RAF Mildenhall, following its flying debut in last year's show. The aircraft has the unique capability of being able to take-off vertically like a helicopter but fly at forward speeds associated with fixed-wing aircraft. One of the Ospreys was also in the static display, allowing visitors to get up close to these impressive aircraft.
The Swedish Air Force provided a Saab JAS 39C Gripen to the flying display and a 39D Gripen to the static park although the Hungarian Gripen, once scheduled, was cancelled. The Hellenic Air Force F-16C 'Zeus' demo team was another of the flying displays. Stars of the show, especially flying in and out either side of show days, were the Hellenic Air Force's pair of jets from the 1960s, McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantoms, which spent show days in the static display. This was Greece's biggest contingent of aircraft since 1998.
This was the only UK airshow where the Swiss Air Force Patrouille Suisse flew.
The RAF contingent included the Red Arrows, the Chinook and the Eurofighter Typhoon, all of which flew on all three days. The RAF static display had some trainers: a Squirrel helicopter and Hawks T1 and T2; front-line aircraft: two Tornado GR.4 ground attack aircraft, two Typhoon FGR.4 multirole fighter/bomber and the C-130J Hercules C.5 and a Voyager tanker. The RAF's newest type, the A400M Atlas, featured in the RAF Village and helped to showcase the modern Royal Air Force to the public. The Royal Navy was represented by the Black Cats helicopter display team.
The Dutch sent a large contingent of aircraft to the static display. A Royal Netherlands Air Force Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter and C-130 Hercules airlifter were joined by a Dornier 228 twin-turboprop patrol aircraft, which is flown in the colours of the Netherlands Coast Guard by air force and navy pilots. The distinctive three-engined KDC-10 transport/tanker jet had also been scheduled for the static line-up but has been withdrawn.
The French Air Force contributed two of the most spectacular fast jet displays in Europe, the solo Dassault Rafale C multi-role fighter and Ramex Delta team, comprising two Dassault Mirage 2000N strike aircraft. Seen for the first time in Britain at RIAT 2015, Ramex Delta presented a dynamic role demonstration of the delta-winged Mirage, consisting of various tactical manoeuvres representative of those used in combat.
The Dassault Rafale swing-role combat jet has been at the Tattoo several times. The display aircraft was a single-seat Rafale C stationed at Base Aérienne 113 Saint-Dizier. At the controls for the first time this year was a new display pilot, Capitaine 'Marty' Martinez.
The Italian Air Force provided the highlight for many in the close formations, solo exhibitions and smoke-flag streaming of the ten Aermacchi AT-339A (previously known as MB339 PAN) of the Frecce Tricolori. This is one of the last seasons for the AT-339A, which is due to be replaced as the Frecce's mount by the Aermacchi M-345 HET.
The Italian Air Force also introduced the AgustaWestland HH-101A Caesar helicopter for its UK debut. The 'Caesar' is essentially the Italian's Merlin and is versatile enough to be configured for a variety of roles including combat search & rescue, special forces, medical evacuation and slow-moving intercept. The Italian's flying line-up was completed with a Eurofighter F-2000A Typhoon and a second was amongst the statics. The Spanish Air Force also sent a Typhoon for the static and flying displays.
Croatia was the 56th nation to display at RIAT when their Krila Oluje aerobatic team made its UK debut. The Krila Oluje (meaning 'Wings of Storm, celebrating a major Croatian military operation named 'Oluje', during the country's war of independence from the former Yugoslavia) fly six PC-9M in dynamic close-formation, opposition and solo elements. The team's support aircraft, a Mil Mi-171 transport helicopter, was on static display.
The Air Force from another east European country, Poland, was also represented in flying displays, displaying the MiG-29A and joining the Polish F-16C Tiger Demo Team and Team Orlik. The Slovakian Air Force was also to display a MiG-29AS, joined in the static park by a MiG-29AS/UBS and with a Slovakian Let L410 transporter in support, but their involvement in RIAT was cancelled.
The Belgian Air Component's long-time demonstration pilot Cdt Tom 'Gizmo' De Moortel displayed the extremely popular F-16 at the weekend. Belgium's fleet of 54 F-16s has benefited from 'Mid Life Upgrades', nevertheless their agility and popularity belie their 40 year pedigree. The extravagant 'Blizzard' paint scheme adds to its popularity, as witnessed by several trophy wins at previous Air Tattoos.
Belgium also sent a C-130H Hercules transport for the static display joined, for the first time at RIAT, by a veteran Piper L-21B Super Cub used as a glider tug to support the country's Air Cadets.
As part of official celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of the Air Training Corps, the Royal International Air Tattoo 2016 featured a static display of vintage gliders used by the Air Cadet Organisation over the years. The oldest of them on show were the Slingsby Kirby Cadet, Slingsby Grasshopper and Slingsby Sedbergh, all employed by the ATC during the early post-war years. A later example is the Slingsby Venture, the first powered glider to be employed by the Air Cadets and current equipment was represented by examples of the Grob Viking glider and Grob Vigilant motorglider.
Getting to the Show
From north-east of Fairford, use the M40 leaving at junction 8 onto the A40 west. From the south and south-east use the M4 leaving at junction 15 onto the A419 north. From the west, use the M4 leaving at junction 17 onto the A429 north. From mid and north Wales and the north west, use the M5 and leave at junction 11a onto the A417 south. The post code for sat nav is GL7 4EG but in all cases ignore the sat nav and follow local signposting as soon as it becomes available. Parking is free. The promoter's own advice on getting to the airfield on show day is here.
National Express have coach services to Cirencester (about 4 miles away) and to Cricklade (about 5 miles away), but it is better to go to Swindon because there is a shuttle from Swindon station to the show. Journey times from London are all just over 2 hours. You can book seats online. Click the National Express name to go to their web site.
The best rail station to use is Swindon, because there are (chargeable) shuttle buses between Swindon station and the show. Swindon is well served with rail services from London, Oxford, Wales and the west.
Because of engineering work, on Friday 14 and Saturday 15 July buses will be running between Chippenham and Swindon. On Sunday 16 July, buses will be running between Westbury/Bath Spa and Swindon via Chippenham. Full details
Click here to create a pocket timetable for your journey between any stations on the National Rail network.
The variety of rail tickets and fares can be very confusing. Trainline and Raileasy web sites list all ticket and fare options for the time and day of travel you choose, but they both levy an admin fee. Click either of the blue ticket agency names to go to their web site.
Accommodation near the show
It is best to book as far as possible in advance. This is not only because nearby hotels and guest houses tend get booked up well before the date of an airshow but also because prices can be better when you book early online.
There are plenty of booking agencies. We find that many of the well known ones are better at finding hotels from international or larger UK chains and may suggest hotels in main towns or cities quite a distance from the show site.
Between them, LateRooms and Expedia list a good selection of smaller, as well as bigger, hotels and will find accommodation in villages and small towns as well as the main centres. Expedia also give, and take, Nectar points.
Click either blue agency name for a list of hotels and guest houses near the show. The venue is already built into both links, so when the list comes up you just have to enter your dates.
Trivago will list competitive prices for a range of hotels, but they might not necessarily find them all, because some chains do not subscribe to their service. You may also get a better rate if you book direct with an hotel, especially if you are a member of a loyalty or rewards scheme.
The International Hotels Group have a Holiday Inn and two Holiday Inn Express hotels in Swindon, about 15 miles away and Premier Inn also have three hotels in or around Swindon.
Weather for the show area
The Met office seven-day forecast includes maximum, minimum and "feels like" temperatures, the likelihood of rain, wind direction, gusts and visibility: the latter can have an impact on the viability of displays.
The BBC's five-day forecast has overall conditions including temperatures, UV range and a description that may help to determine how pleasant the day will be for the visitor.
Click the blue-text link to go to the forecast. The location is already built into the links.