Royal International Air Tattoo 2018
  2 August 2018

The RIAT 2018 marked the celebrations of the 100th Anniversary of the Royal Air Force, with a public record of 185,000 people, in a beautiful area, admiring the participation of no less than 300 aircraft, sent by 43 different Air Forces representing 30 nations, of which 121 performed in flight for 7 hours a day.

Organisers of the Royal International Air Tattoo promised visitors that summer’s airshow  could have been out of this world. Unfortunately the weather which was perfect for long weeks before the show, betrayed the Tattoo just the day of the English parade in the sky, forcing a sudden change to the planned operations and taking the organizers not even to postpone, but to cancel all the flypasts. On one hand the highlight of the show was the U.S. Air Force, but the other air forces at Fairford were also bringing its best here.

The centenary flight program was intense and the live performances were very impressive. Among the many spectacular shows, it is worth mentioning the flight in a diamond formation of nine Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 and the simulation of an air battle of the First World War performed by the very old and slow biplanes of the early 1900.  Then, started from North Dakota and arriving in Fairford on Wednesday, 11 July, after a transatlantic flight of 4,000 miles, the General Atomics MQ-9B Sky Guardian aircraft was the “star” among the numerous aircraft that RAF at the static exhibition.

The Italian Air Force joined in the air display, as well as with the wonderful Frecce Tricolori that, as always, have thrilled the public, even with three aircraft of the Test Unit at Pratica di Mare: the C27J Spartan, the M-346A and the Eurofighter EF-2000. At the static exhibition the A.M.I. was presenting a helicopter HH-139A and an HH-101 belonging to 15th Wing based at Cervia; two Eurofighters EF-2000 of the 18th Squadron arrived from Trapani-Birgi, Sicily, home of the 37th Wing;  a Tornado IDS of the 6th Wing from Ghedi and a C-27J of the 46th Air Brigade from Pisa.

The RIAT 2018 was the occasion for the debut of the US F-35 Heritage Team of the US Air Force that performed spectacular manoeuvres, while in the static stood out the Boeing E-6B Mercury of the US Navy parked next to a Boeing P8-A Poseidon. On the other hand, Canada has exhibited its fighters McDonnell Douglas CF-18 of the 3rd Wing of the Royal Canadian Air Force with the new blue and white livery of 2019, and Ukraine brought the beautiful Sukhoi Su-27UB of the Ukrainian Air Force. The Swiss Air Force brought its Pilatus PC-7 training aircraft, the PC-7 Team, and an F / A-18C Hornet Solo Display Team.

Many medium and long-haul transport aircraft, including those from three countries that are rarely seen in Europe: the C-130 of Jordanian Air Force, the Pakistani “special color” hand painted and the one from Oman in her special desert livery.

In closing, let’s go back to the other news, a rarity for Europe: alongside the rumored Airbus A400M in service with the RAF, Luftwaffe and Ejercito del Aire, all present at Fairford, they debuted the very interesting and elegant twin-engine transport Kawasaki C- 2 and, even more out of sight, the Embraer KC-390 tactical transport aircraft, which left Fairford for displaying at Farnborough.

The latter, thrust by two turbochargers Aero Engines V2500, stands halfway between C-130 / C-160 and A400M. The Japanese freighter, 44 meters long, thrust by two very reliable General Electric CF6 turbofans, is expected to enter service with the JASDF in about sixty models, including armed versions and ELINT.

There are no doubts that RIAT 2018 is a great event. We look forward to the next edition in 2019.

Photos: Franco Gualdoni & Gianluca Storti