40th Anniversary of the Air Tattoo
2011 saw the Air Tattoo celebrate a remarkable milestone - the 40th Anniversary of the Air Tattoo. First staged in 1971 at North Weald airfield with just over 100 aircraft taking part, the Air Tattoo developed rapidly from these small beginnings, fired on by the energy and enthusiasm of the unpaid volunteer team that created it, coupled with its perceived benefits by those air arms that chose to have their aircrew and aircraft take part. It became the International Air Tattoo in 1976, and in 1996, recognition of its unique international status was given by Her Majesty The Queen, when it became the Royal International Air Tattoo. Between 1973 and 1983 the Air Tattoo was held at Greenham Common, before moving to RAF Fairford in 1985. During its 40 years, the Air Tattoo has hosted aircraft from some 51 countries, as well as heads of air arms from many more nations.
STAR 11 (Strike, Attack and Reconnaissance)
The Air Tattoo's operational theme has always been selected with relevance in mind to ensure that those military units fortunate enough to participate, derive good value from doing so whilst at RAF Fairford. Given the ongoing multi-national operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere across the globe, STAR 11 (Strike, Attack and Reconnaissance) was the chosen theme for 2011. However, with modern warfare becoming increasingly demanding and commanders needing a comprehensive understanding of the complexities of the battlefield before engagement, ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) will be an integral part of STAR 11. Everything from satellite communications to swing-role fast-jets, from UAVs and stand-off reconnaissance platforms to battlefield helicopters and their ground based supporting systems will be included, as we look from current operations to the future of battlefield surveillance and intelligence gathering, close air support and precision strike capabilities.
RIAT 2011 was proud to host a celebration marking the 50th Anniversary of the NATO Tiger Association, following on from the Tiger Meet to be held at Cambrai, France in May 2011. Officially formed in 1961 to foster good relations between NATO Squadrons, the NATO Tiger Association has gone from strength to strength. Its guiding principles remain the same to this day - the improvement of solidarity between NATO members; the creation and maintenance of team-spirit between participating members; and the exchange of experiences in line with the military goals of NATO. The Air Tattoo first became involved with the Tiger Association in 1977 when it offered RAF Greenham Common as the public front of the formal Meet planned for the previous week at RAF Upper Heyford. Perhaps the Air Tattoo's most significant contribution to the Association is the Silver Tiger Trophy, which was gifted to the Tigers in 1977, and is awarded annually to the squadron that has the best overall performance during a NATO Tiger Meet. Tiger squadrons (NATO and otherwise) were invited to participate with suitably decorated aircraft and displays to celebrate 50 years of this most significant association.