Tag Archives: Fairford

Lightning strikes thrice but fails to ‘wow!’ at Fairford

Lightning struck no less than three times at Fairford airbase in the UK on Friday 8 July, during the world’s biggest airshow that is also known as the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT). Three F-35 Lightning II  were seen flying, but all but the British jet failed to impress. It takes more than a couple of fly passes to really ‘wow!’ an audience, which must have been what the UK Ministry of Defence and Lockheed Martin were actually hoping for at Fairford.

Yes, the vertical landing of the UK F-35B was a sight to behold, but it was awkward to witness a United States Marines Corps (USMC) F-35B earlier on Friday for what was the type’s very first actual public display in the UK – only to see it fly by unassumingly a couple of times beneath a USMC KC-130J tanker aircraft and land only minutes after it took off. Even the associated commentary was dull and uninspiring.

The US Air Force F-35A from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, did slightly better with an afterburner take off followed by formation fly passes with the true star of the show, which was the US Air Force F-22 Raptor display from Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. That’s how you wow an audience.

USMC_F35B
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
F22
(Image © Elmer van Hest)

Typhoon

The other star of the show, the Eurofighter Typhoon, did likewise and actually hit more than three times. Four solo Typhoons displays feature in the airshow program, along with a dozen or so jets in the static display. Very impressive was a full blown display by a combat configured aircraft – bombs and missiles attached – by a BAE Systems test pilot.

Typhoon2
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
Typhoon
(Image © Elmer van Hest)

Farnborough

The demonstration by the UK F-35B made up for some of the lacklustre Lightning II appearances earlier in the day, but again the deliverance and commentary was about as exciting as watching paint dry. The British Lightning II will also be present at next week’s Farnborough International Airshow. At Fairford, Lockheed Martin invited the media to learn all their is learn about the F-35. The Norwegians gave a full update on the status of their program.

Perhaps the Dutch indeed spoiled RIAT’s and Lockheed Martin’s party when they flew two F-35As to the Netherlands in May and spectacularly displayed them in a air power demonstration, complete with pyro technics – or perhaps we are spoiled. But the same can’t be said for the British taxpayers at Fairford, who pay a lot of money for RIAT airshow tickets, not to mention their new fighter jet that is the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II. Both deserved better.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

RAF_F35B
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
F35_F22
(Image © Elmer van Hest)

 

 

 

 

New flock of Lightnings in Europe

A new flock of F-35 Lightning IIs reached Europe on Wednesday 29 June. A Royal Air Force F-35B touched down at a rainy Fairford airbase on its first ever visit to the UK, accompanied by two United States Marine Corps (USMC) F-35Bs. The three jets arrived after a transatlantic flight from the US and will take part in airshows at Fairford and Farnborough over the next few weeks.

The aircraft’s arrival marks the second time in just over a month that Lockheed Martin’s 5th generation fighter jet flies to Europe. Last month, two Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35As arrived in the Netherlands for a three-week stay, also appearing at the type’s very first airshow outside the US.

The three jets were supposed to arrive on Monday already, but an issue with one of two supporting US Air Force tankers caused a 48-hour delay.


For Lockheed Martin, the F-35’s presence in Fairford and Farnborough is a major PR-moment, especially after the failed attempt to get the new jet to the UK in 2014. Joining the three F-35Bs should be two US Air Force F-35As from Luke Air Force Base. These are scheduled to arrive in the UK on Thursday.

The British F-35B should give a full role demo display, while the USMC jets will fly in formation with a KC-130 tanker during the airshow. The US Air Force F-35A is supposed to take part in a heritage flight. The airshow at Fairford also marks the first time the F-35 and its bigger stablemate, the F-22 Raptor, jointly take part in an airshow in European skies.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

Raptors join Lightnings at UK Air Tattoo at Fairford

US Air Force F-22 Raptors will join US F-35 Lightning II fighter jets during the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in July. They are part of the Air Combat Command (ACC) F-22 Raport demo team. According to a posting on the team’s Facebook on Tuesday 23 February, the team will be present in July at Fairford.

The F-22 will join the Lockheed Martin F-35’s announced earlier. The presence of both fifth generation fighter aircraft can without a doubt be regarded as a show of force of advanced Western military firepower. The F-22 has been on display at Fairford before, but never alongside its smaller and newer Lockheed Martin F-35 stablemate.

Dutch airshow

The F-35 should see it’s UK air show debut at Fairford this year, after a ditched attempt in 2014. However, the type’s first ever airshow appearance outside the US should take place at Leeuwarden airbase in the Netherlands in June. A Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35A will cross the Atlantic this spring for what the Dutch call ‘perception flights’, plus the appearance at Leeuwarden.

The F-22 was a rare sight in Europe for many years. That ended with the deployment of four jets to Germany in 2015 as a show of force to Russia.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: An F-22 Raptor heads for the skies. (Image © Airman 1st Class Amanda Morris / USAF) 

USMC F-35s to UK this summer

The United States Marine Corps on Monday 25 January stated it is sending two Lockheed Martin F-35Bs Lightning II to the UK this summer. The fighter jets will appear at two airshows in July, being the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford and the Farnborough International Airshow. The F-35’s appearance will make up for a ditched attempt two years ago.

The two airshows are both held in July and should also see participation of US Air Force F-35A variants. A total of five aircraft are expected to cross the Atlantic. The USMC reached Initial Operation Capability (IOC) in July 2015, whereas the US Air Force is still working towards IOC.

The attempt to send jets to the same airshows in 2014 failed because of a problem in the engine that grounded all jets. The grounding was the result of a fire in an F-35 at Eglin Air Force Base in June 2014. An appearance would have meant the international airshow debut for the F-35.

Dutch debut

Despite today’s announcement, it could very well be the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) that debuts the F-35A on its first international airshow. In May, the RNLAF plans to fly one of its two F-35As to the Netherlands for noise tesing and an airshow at Leeuwarden airbase, although nothing is certain yet. More on the Dutch visit is in this feature story at Airheadsfly.com.

What is certain, is the presence of two F-35As in Europe already. They are two aircraft produced at FNM Aeronautics’ Final Assembly and Check-Out (FACO) facility in Cameri, Italy. The first of those made its first flight on 7 September 2015. The Italians will fly at least one F-35 transatlantic to the US next month and have no known plans for participation in European airshows yet.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: The F-35B is a Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant of the F-35. (Image © Tom Reynolds / Lockheed Martin)

 

Kawasaki P-1 patrols UK market

The Japanese Navy is sending two Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft to the UK for participation in the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) next week. It marks the international airshow debut for the type, that first flew on 28 September 2007.

RIAT announced the Japanese participation on Tuesday 7 July, saying one P-1 will be a static display, with the second one in the flying display. Last year, the Japanese Air Force sent a Boeing KC-767 tanker aircraft to the airshow at Fairford.

In the recent past, the P-1 was mentioned more then once as a contender for a future maritime patrol aircraft for the UK. The decision to dispose of the Nimrod patrol aircraft in 2011 sparked a lot of criticism. Another very likely contender is the Boeing P-8A Poseidon.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: Sometimes we receive some great images from our readers. Robert van Zon from the Netherlands sent us two, of the prototype of the Japanese Marine Self-Defence Force Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft no. 5501. Taken at Atsugi in October 2010. (Image © Robert van Zon)