This year's Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) has attracted so many aircraft the show's organisers are having to turn down late requests from militaries wanting to participate in the two-day event's flying display, says chief executive Tim Prince.
Highlights of the 7-8 July show at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire will include a combined 16h of flying by combat aircraft, helicopters, transport and military trainers from multiple nations, plus several aerobatic display teams. The latter will include the Royal Saudi Air Force's Saudi Hawks, Seoul's Korea Aerospace Industries T-50-equipped Black Eagles, and the United Arab Emirates' Al Fursan team, flying Alenia Aermacchi MB339s.
The Saudi Hawks will return to the show following their 2011 debut
South Korea and Colombia are sending aircraft for the first time, taking to 53 the number of countries to have taken part in the air tattoo in its 41-year history. Another is expected to be confirmed soon.
Also making its RIAT debut will be Russia's Irkut Yak-130 advanced jet trainer/light attack aircraft, which will then go on to appear at the 9-15 July Farnborough air show. Four US Marine Corps-operated Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotors will also be present (one pictured below), while the Vulcan To The Sky Trust aims to have Avro Vulcan XH558 back in action following a recent engine incident.
The Royal Air Force will perform notable flypasts involving multiple types from its air transport fleet, including last RIAT appearances by the Lockheed Martin C-130K tactical transport and Vickers VC10 tanker, and a repeat of the "E II R" formation flown by 27 BAE Systems Hawk trainers over Windsor Castle during the Queen's recent Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
Prince says ticket sales for this year's show are running above the level recorded by the same stage last year, despite it occurring only three weeks before the opening ceremony for the London Olympics. "That's because of the fantastic array of aircraft that we have coming to RIAT," he says.
A new e-ticketing system will be open from 28 June until the two show days, or until the maximum 170,000 capacity for the weekend is reached, Prince says.
RIAT's ability to attract participation from the armed services of a wide variety of nations has been strengthened by a UK initiative to invite senior officials to attend a pre-show conference at a nearby location. To be held on 5 July, the event will this year include the heads of more than 40 air forces from around the world.
Meanwhile, the show's organisers have signed extended sponsorship deals with BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin, with the annual event confirmed at RAF Fairford through 2016.