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GLOVES OFF AS FIGHTERS ENTER AIR TATTOO 'RING'

Fast jet fans will be in seventh heaven following news that two of the world's leading fighter jets have been added to the flying programme at this summer's Royal International Air Tattoo.

A Rafale multi-role jet fighter from the French Air Force and a JAS-39C Gripen from the Swedish Air Force will join an RAF Typhoon in the eight-hour display, giving the Air Tattoo audience a rare opportunity to compare the speed and manoeuvrability of three of the world's most potent fighters.

Designed and built by France's Dassault Aviation, the Rafale is capable of carrying out a very wide range of missions including air defence, reconnaissance, air-to-ground precision strikes and nuclear strikes.

The delta-winged aircraft's display last year was so impressive that pilot Capt Michael Brocard walked away with the Paul Bowen Trophy for 'best solo jet display'.

Capt Brocard will be back and will be looking to retain his 'crown' against stiff opposition from the likes of the SAAB's Gripen - flown by SAAB test pilot Fredrik Muchler.- and a BAE Systems' Typhoon, piloted by Squadron Leader Scott Loughran, as well as others such as the Russian Yakolev Yak-130 and BAE Systems' Hawk.

The Gripen (Griffin) is a lightweight 4th generation, single-engine multirole fighter with a swing role capability enabling it to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions within a single sortie. The aircraft scheduled to take part in the RIAT 2012 flying display will come from the Flight Test Centre in Linkoping, Sweden.

Air Tattoo spokesman Richard Arquati said: "A number of trophies are awarded to pilots and aircrew at the end of every Air Tattoo, each recognising different aspects of aviation excellence. The trophy for the best solo jet display is always fiercely fought for by the world's leading display pilots.

"In terms of sheer power, noise and extreme manoeuvrability, nothing compares to the solo fast jet displays. They are the Formula One of military aviation except they are noisier, faster and a lot more expensive to buy!"

April 26, 2012