Tag Archives: RIAT

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)

 

 

 

 

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) 

Indian Flankers to the UK

UPDATE 17 July 2015 | The UK should see at least four Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30 MKI Flankers arriving in July for exercise Indradhanush 2015, reliable sources have told Airheadsfly.com. The fighter aircraft and supporting C-130, C-17 and Il-78 will fly to the UK with a stop over in Athens, and are scheduled to arrive on 16 July.

Update 17 July: four Indian air force Flankers indeed arrived in the UK, touching down at RAF Coningsby. A visit to RIAT at Fairford seems to be off the table.

Indradhanush is a training exercise in which Indian air force personnel trains alongside Royal Air Force personnel. The exercise is a repeat of a similar exercise in 2007, when RAF Waddington airbase also saw Indian Air Force Flankers visiting for joint training.

The Indians in 2007 also participated in the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at Fairford airbase in the UK. This year’s RIAT is scheduled to start on 17 July, but no word is out yet on participation from India. A visit to the airshow doesn’t seem far fetched however.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): An Indian Su-30 MKI seen during the 2007 visit. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

European debut F-35 now officially off

The first F-35 for Luke AFB arriving on 10 March 2014 (Image © Staff Sgt. Darlene Seltmann / USAF)
A sight not to be seen in Europe, for now. (Image © Staff Sgt. Darlene Seltmann / USAF)

The Lockheed Martin F-35 will definitely not be on show at the Farnborough International Airshow, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday 15 July. The decision follows a glimmer of hope that existed earlier today, as the grounding of the F-35 was lifted and replaced by a ‘limited flight clearance’.

The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin said the decision is disappointing, but necessary as a safety precaution.  The entire F-35 Lightning II fleet was grounded on 3 July, after the Pratt & Whitney F-135 engine on one aircraft malfunctioned at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, on 23 June. An investigation into the cause is ongoing. Four US Marines F-35Bs and one Royal Air Force F-35B were poised to fly to the UK.

The F-35 on 12 and 13 July also missed the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at Fairford. The trade airshow at Farnborough started on 14 July and ends 20 July with a public flying display at the airfield outside London. The visits to both airshows were to be the debut of the F-35 Lightning II, which is the result of a 400 billion USD defence program. The program faced a lot of criticism over the last few weeks following the incident and subsequent grounding.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

Related posts

Perfect Storm at RIAT 2014

All of 2014 Fairford (Image © Elmer van Hest)
All of 2014 Fairford (Image © Elmer van Hest)

UPDATE 15 July | It was the perfect storm at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at Fairford over the weekend. Not weather-wise, as the event was blessed with fine weather conditions. No, it was the turmoil around the non-debut of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, causing a storm of a criticism and ridicule. But also, in the eye of the beholder there was another storm; that of a Eurofighter Typhoon, Panavia Tornado and Hawker Hurricane forming a showpiece as only RIAT can deliver.

According to RIAT organizers, over 140.000 people visited Fairford since Friday. They did not get to see the promised 5th generation fighter aircraft during it’s European airshow debut, but that they did get to see plenty of other stuff, including the Boeing P-8, the Textron Scorpion Jet, the Airbus (CASA / EADS) C295 Maritime Patrol Aircraft and the Red Arrows celebrating their 50th birthday and the F-16 Fighting Falcon celebrating it’s 40th.

The Royal International Air Tattoo is one big, aviation friendly fairground. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Royal International Air Tattoo is one big, aviation friendly fairground. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

In the end, the F-35 was hardly missed and RIAT – despite defence cutbacks meaning fewer aircraft on the airshow circuit – showed why it prolongs the title ‘the greatest airshow on earth’; thousands of people enjoying an airshow with an unrivaled variety of aircraft. Most exotic visitor was a Boeing KC-767 tanker aircraft from the Japanese Air Self Defence Force. There is no other airshow in Europe – or anywhere else – that draws aircraft from the other side of the planet. It has to be said: RIAT is still in a league of its own.

RAF past, present and future (Image © Elmer van Hest)
RAF past, present and future (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Portuguese Air Force C295 at 2014 Fairford (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Portuguese Air Force C295 at 2014 Fairford (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The new kid on the block: the Boeing P-8 Poseidon of the US Navy at Fairford 2014 (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The new kid on the block: the Boeing P-8 Poseidon of the US Navy at Fairford 2014 (Image © Elmer van Hest)
No prizes for guessing which country this A-7 Corsair comes from.  (Image © Elmer van Hest)
No prizes for guessing which country this A-7 Corsair belongs to. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules from Oman was also present at Fairford. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules from Oman was also present at Fairford. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest