SAUDI HAWKS FLY IN FOR FIRST UK DISPLAY
A FLEET of eight display aircraft from the Royal Saudi Air Force has arrived at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford on their first-ever trip to the UK.
The Saudi Hawks of 88 Sqn are fast jet trainers, the same aircraft used by the Red Arrows. The Saudi versions sport a green and white stripe design . . . and trail green and white smoke. And they'll be putting on their spectacular display on both days of the Air Tattoo, giving aviation fans their first chance to see the Middle Eastern air aces in action in the UK.
Team leader Lt Col Abdullah Al-Ghamdi said he had been hoping to visit for a while. He explained: "We've been talking about coming here for a couple of years, so it's lovely to have arrived. We organised a lot of things for last year and were about to come but things did not work out. Thankfully we've made it this year, and it's a great experience for everybody."
The journey to the UK saw the team travel via Egypt, Italy and Austria, and they'll take two days to get back to Saudi Arabia with a stop in Lyon, France.
There was no rest for the pilots on arrival, however, with the Hawks taking to the air for a display rehearsal, giving Air Tattoo staff and aviation enthusiasts in Park & View a taste of the dramatic display they'll be performing on both days of the show.
The only thing Lt Col Al-Ghamdi is not completely happy with is our English weather.
"I'm not used to the cloud," he laughs, "and it's 46 degrees back home!"
Tim Prince, Chief Executive of the Air Tattoo, said: "We're delighted to welcome the Saudi Hawks for their first visit to the Air Tattoo and their first UK display. Their visit further cements the friendship between our two countries, and we're especially pleased to welcome them in this, our 40th anniversary year."
TYPHOON TEST PILOT IN RARE 'WEAPONS' DISPLAY
A RARE display of the Eurofighter Typhoon's agility and engine power with a full weapon load, will be one of the highlights of next weekend's Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford.
The BAE Systems' development aircraft IPA 5 (Instrumented Production Aircraft), is one of five production standard aircraft fitted with instruments for dedicated flight testing and further systems development. The UK-based IPA 5 is helping develop air-to-surface and air-to-air weapons integration.
Most air displays are achieved by reducing fuel and weapon loads, however with this display, BAE Systems Chief Test Pilot for Combat Air, Mark Bowman will demonstrate IPA5's significant weapon carriage and manoeuvrability whilst still able to show carefree handling.
In addition to the demonstration, a full scale replica of the world's most advanced, new generation multi-role combat jet, including full weapon display, will be available for general public access. The RAF will also have a Typhoon on display in the static aircraft park.
IPA 5 will fly in a swing-role configuration, including four Paveway II laser guided bombs, two 1,000 ltr fuel tanks, four AMRAAMs (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles) and two ASRAAMs (Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles) and will highlight the Typhoon's agility regardless of weapon load.
Test pilot Mark Bowman said: "I am looking forward enormously to displaying at the Air Tattoo next week. The aim is simply to demonstrate the Typhoon's power, performance and presence in a truly representative combat load. Different than most other 'clean aircraft' displays, I hope the observer will get a real sense of why Typhoon is not only at the forefront of world combat aviation, but also acknowledge the role of European technology, engineering and ingenuity in producing this 'awesome' aircraft."
An Air Tattoo spokesman said BAE Systems' decision to display their prized demonstration aircraft at the airshow showed the significance of the event in the eyes of the company.
He said: "To have such a formidable aircraft displayed by BAE Systems' chief test pilot for combat air is something special and will be appreciated and eagerly anticipated by the knowledgeable Air Tattoo audience.
"Having such an experienced pilot at the controls will ensure visitors to the Air Tattoo will get to see the aircraft's full capabilities. We are extremely grateful to our title sponsor BAE Systems for agreeing to display the aircraft at the Air Tattoo."
This summer's Air Tattoo will be marking its 40th anniversary and hosting a gathering of specially-decorated 'Tiger' aircraft from the NATO Tiger Association. 'Tiger' aircraft come from NATO squadrons that have a Tiger or Big Cat in their emblem and their association marks its 50th anniversary in 2011. The 'operational' spotlight STAR 11 will focus on aircraft and equipment involved in the roles of Strike and Reconnaissance.