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F-35B & P-8A Aircraft Announcement and 2020 Theme Announcement

Published: 30 Jan 2020   updated: 03 Feb 2020

We're very excited to share with you that subject to operational tasking we are hopeful the UK F-35B Lightning and new RAF P-8A Poseidon will appear at this summer's Air Tattoo, representing the airshow's two themes for 2020; Fast Jet Combat Air Power and Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR)

The F-35B debuted at the Air Tattoo in 2016, as examples from the Royal Air Force and United States Marine Corps flew the Atlantic to take part in the show. This was the first time that the British public had the opportunity to witness this 5th generation 'low observable' fighter up close. The first UK F-35s arrived into RAF Marham in June 2018, followed by another group in 2019. The UK has planned to purchase 138 F-35 Lightning aircraft over the life of the Programme. The first 48 aircraft are the short take-off/vertical landing (STOVL) 'B' model with its Rolls-Royce 'LiftSystem'. In December 2018 the UK declared and Initial Operating Capability (IOC) from land with aircraft from 617 Sqn. They conducted their first operational sorties in support of Op SHADER in June 19. In the autumn of 2019, the first RAF F-35B landed on the first of the UK's two new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth. This combination brings the RAF and Royal Navy back into the carrier-borne aviation world.

The RAF will soon return another crucial role to its capabilities as it welcomes the first P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft into service. Taking over the role previously performed by the Nimrod, the P-8 is capable of anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and is also suited to assist non-military tasks such as search and rescue. The US Navy debuted the P-8 at the Air Tattoo in 2014. More recently we have seen the aircraft operated at the show with RAF personnel as part of the crew, thanks to a years-long programme to ensure retention of the skill sets that RAF crews require to remain proficient in maritime patrol duties. The P-8 will be based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland and nine of the type have been ordered from Boeing. Designated the MRA1 in RAF service, the first P-8, delivered to the RAF in October 2019 and named 'Pride of Moray', is scheduled to arrive in the UK this spring.

The theme Fast Jet Combat Air Power will showcase today's elite aviators, as the world's air forces join our salute. Whenever and wherever Air Power is needed, these aviators can respond at a moment's notice, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, allowing the world's air arms to effectively ensure control of the air and front-line protection from aerial and ground based threats.

And, on this, the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the spotlight will again fall on this historic aerial conflict and the bravery of those early aviators who flew and fought during the campaign. Mastery of the aerial battlespace remains as important today as it was in 1940 and we will highlight the crucial role that fast jets play in securing our skies alongside the heroes that fly them. 

From the early use of the hot air balloon as a rudimentary Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR) tool, we have continued to develop the capability to elevate ourselves over the battlefield to obtain a 'bird's-eye view'. In 1940, the Battle of Britain was directed by a new command and control system based on the extraordinary, secret 'radar' that would play a major role during the Second World War and in subsequent conflicts. Since then, development has continued apace with both manned and unmanned ISR platforms around the world delivering advanced capabilities such as airborne early warning, battlespace management and maritime reconnaissance.

Now, as then, Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance forms the backbone of air power. The world's air arms conduct around-the-clock operations furnishing commanders with the information required to conduct land, sea and air campaigns.  We look forward to seeing the F-35B and P-8A at the Air Tattoo this summer as well as many other aircraft and nations to support our themes; Fast Jet Combat Air Power and Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR).

“It was an epic spectacle, as magical as anything you've ever seen in the West End, and as loud as anything you've ever heard at Knebworth.”

Jeremy Clarkson, Television Presenter

“All the thrills, excitement and noise of a Grand Prix, but in the air!”

Jenson Button, Former Formula 1 Racing Driver

“Probably the most complete air show I’ve ever been to!”

Al Worden, Apollo 15 Astronaut

“This is THE best airshow!”

Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Astronaut

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