The Royal International Air Tattoo or RIAT as it’s been known in recent years is
undoubtedly the worlds largest military Air show event. Fairford has been home to
RIAT for many years, where there is always space for the hundreds of visiting aircraft.
Every year the show organisers choose specific themes to try and keep variation
for the regular Air Tattoo fans. This years themes were, ‘Eyes in the sky’ representing
reconnaissance technology and ‘Roar-05’ a NATO tiger meet gathering. This is the
perfect opportunity to show off your fancy painted aircraft!
Unusual to see in the UK was a pair of Italian Navy AV-8 Harriers. Nice to have the
two variants, the single seat and twin stick trainer aircraft. Squadrons with a tiger
as part of the unit patch have the honour of being a ‘Tiger Squadron’. Although many
tiger Squadrons were present only a few aircraft were presented in specially painted
Another rare aircraft seen at this years RIAT was an TA-7C Corsair II from the Greek
Air Force. Also provided by the Hellenic Air Force was an RF-4E Phantom II, an ex-German
aircraft which seemed to still be in German Air Force paint!
The Spanish EF-18B Hornet belonging to Ala 31 in the static display was specially
painted with a tiger on the tail, celebrating a total of 100,000 flying hours on
F-16 Fighting Falcon numbers seemed to be down on numbers this year, with only Belgian,
Danish and Dutch examples in the static. One of a pair of Danish F-16s from Esk 726
had a nicely painted red tail.
All four Romanian Mig-21 Lancers that were on
deployment at RAF Lossiemouth, were present in the static display. Staging there
way back home, the next stop will be Kleine Brogel in Belgium for the spotters day
on the 20th of July.
The Mig-21 Lancers weren’t the only Russian built aircraft at Fairford, the Polish
Air Force displayed their tiger schemed Su-22 Fitter. The Fitter is similar to the
Lancer in design aerodynamically, apart from the the Su-22 has swing wings!.
The aircraft that really grabbed attention in the static were a two tone gray tiger
striped Royal Navy Merlin plus a Puma fully painted in tiger stripes! At least the
British have the tiger spirit ... “Roaaarrr!”
This year many Royal Air Force aircraft are hosting special schemes. 111 Squadron
have one of their Tornado F3 tails painted up in the Squadron colours of black and
yellow. Also 13 Squadron also have a Tornado GR.4 with a painted tail celebrating
90 years of the unit.
Unfortunately the Germans can no can longer participate in Foreign airshow flying
displays but they did their best to support Fairford. Providing a pair of Tornado
IDS aircraft one from AKG 51 the reconnaissance tiger Squadron and the other from
Also a Tornado ECR operated by JaboG 32 Squadron. An F-4F Phantom II from the unit
JaboG 74 was also on display.
The absence of an American F-15 Eagle in this years flying display was replaced with
an F-16C Fighting Falcon. Although it’s refreshing to see other F-16 units displaying
the American text book routine seemed to be created by someone who had never been
to an air show! Consisting of mainly level passes with the occasional turn or climb.
The routines minimum altitude also seemed to be 500 feet. I feel it didn’t show the
full capabilities of the F-16C version, maybe the Americans should ask the Dutch
Pilots for some tips, for they have always presented the Falcon to the limit of its