RIAT 2022 - Northern Europe

22/07/2022

Britain

As is always the case, the British participation at RIAT was the largest, bringing at least 1 example of almost every type the nation operates. It'll likely be easier for me to mention participating aircraft via their home station instead of a long list of aircraft! 


RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland sent along 1 Eurofighter Typhoon from 1(F) squadron and 1 of their new Boeing P-8A Poseidon MRA1. The RAF received 9 P-8s between 2020 and 2022. The P-8 is a direct replacement for the Nimrod MRA1 (albeit 10 years late). ZP802 was the aircraft sent to Gloucestershire. The aircraft is named the 'City of Eglin'. 

RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire is home to the RAFs tanker and transport aircraft. RAF Fairford welcomed 1 A400M Atlas C.1 and 1 C-130J Hercules for RIAT 2022. During the Saturday show day, visitors were also treated to a special flypast by the Royal Air Forces A330 Voyager KC.2 with the RAF Aerobatic Team, The Red Arrows. The Voyager used in the flypast was none other than ZZ336, or Vespina. This aircraft is used by the UK Government and the Royal family for trips overseas. Due to my location on Saturday (Totterdown P&V), my shots of the pass are unfortunately quite backlit. 2022 was the last year an RAF C-130 would appear at RIAT as they are scheduled to be completely phased out by the end of June 2023. It's replacement will likely be in the static park for years to come, however. The A400 was parked at a somewhat difficult angle in the RAF Village throughout the weekend. 

RAF Valley in Anglesey is responsible for training the UK's next generation of world-class fighter pilots, starting on the Beechcraft T-6 Texan T.1, before moving onto the BAE Systems Hawk T.2. Both the T-6 and the Hawk fly with the 4th Flying Training Squadron. From Valley, pilots can head to a frontline fighter base such as Coningsby, Lossiemouth, or Marham. 

RAF Marham in Norfolk was once home to the RAFs Tornado fleet, but, following their retirement in 2019, Marham now houses the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II. As things stand, 30 F-35s are in RAF hands, although 3 operate from Edwards AFB in California and 1 was lost in the Mediterranean in 2021. Since 2018, the RAF has sent a Lightning to RIAT, participating in the flying display. This year was no different as ZM157 performed 1 fast pass and a quick hover demo to the crowds. Maybe one year we'll see one in the static park!

RAF Coninsgby in Lincolnshire flies both the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Both attended the show and performed their fantastic displays to the thousands on the ground during the show. 2022s Typhoon display was flown by Flight Lieutenant Adam O'Hare of 29 Squadron. His display consisted of plenty of afterburners and it really showcased the maneuverability of the Typhoon. 

The BBMF display involved the Avro Lancaster as well as a Supermarine Spitfire and a Hawker Hurricane. The fact that these aircraft are still able to grace our skies is incredible, and it couldn't be done without the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight team at RAF Coningsby. The Lancaster is one of only 2 flying in the world! The airshow circuit wouldn't be the same without those Merlin engines roaring overhead!

RAF Benson in Oxfordshire sent a Puma HC2 for the static park. The Pumas days are numbered with the RAF, with retirement currently planned for 2025. 3 Pumas have recently replaced 84 Squadrons Griffon fleet in RAF Akrotiri, undertaking the Search and Rescue role. To my understanding, 2 Pumas were scheduled to attend RIAT, one being the new special scheme celebrating 50 years of the Puma in RAF service. Unfortunately, this aircraft never arrived, but one is certainly better than none!

RAF Odiham operates part of the Royal Air Forces Chinook fleet, flying with 7, 18, and 27 squadrons as well as the RAF Chinook display team, who graciously put the tandem rotor chopper through its paces in front of the thousands on the ground at RAF Fairford. We often forget how lucky we are to have this display on the airshow circuit annually as (as far as I am aware) it is the only official Chinook demonstration team in the world, and they do a fantastic job of showing off what the aircraft is capable of. The reverse take-off is always a joy to watch and never ceases to amaze! Across RIAT weekend the show was performed by Chinook HC6A ZA681. 

RAF Shawbury is where the 1st Flying Training School calls home. The 1st FTS operates the Juno and Jupiter helicopters and is responsible for training the next generation of rotary aircrews. 

RAF College Cranwell is where the next generation of RAF officers are selected and trained. Based at Cranwell is a whole number of different squadrons, teaching everything from flying to Air Operations planning, and everything in between! We'll just be focusing on 2 squadrons, namely 45 and 57 squadrons. 45 Squadron fly 5 Embraer Phenom T.1s and aim to train pilot and aircrew on multi-engine aircraft. 57 Squadron flies the Grob Prefect T.1, which, when qualified, opens you up to a whole host of other aircraft, whether that be RAF Valleys T-6 Texans, 45 Squadrons Phenoms, or RAF Shawburys Junos and Jupiters.

The Royal Navy brought along 3 different aircraft types, 2 from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall and 1 from Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, Somerset. 814 Naval Air Squadron at Culdrose sent along one of their Merlin HM.2 Submarine Hunters. This type entered service in 2014 and the RN currently operates 30 Mk.2s. 814 NAS is nicknamed the 'Flying Tigers', and does fly some Merlins that have very attractive tiger stripes on the aircraft, although, as you'll see below, ZH847 sadly didn't have them, which means I'm still yet to see one!

Culdrose also houses 4 Beechcraft Avenger T.1s, flown by 750 Naval Air Squadron. With credit to the Royal Navy website, 750 NAS trains Observers, the specialists who navigate, operate communications systems, and control the weaponry in our Fleet Air Arm helicopters.

2 Augusta Westland AW159 Wildcat helicopters attended the show, with one operated by the Royal Navy and the other from the Army Air Corps. The entire Wildcat fleet flies out of RNAS Yeovilton. The Navy variant is known as an HMA2 and is designed to operate from Royal Navy ships. The Army Air Corps fleet is designated AH.1. The Wildcat entered service with the Army in 2012 and the Navy in 2013. The type replaced the Augusta Westland Lynx.

Denmark

Denmarks Baby Blue display team made their RIAT debut in 2022 with their 6 SAAB T-17 Supporter aircraft. The team usually flies a display consisting of 4 aircraft, but upped it to 6. While it was a good display with an interesting aircraft type, I can't help but feel they flew quite high and seemed distant to the crowd line. Other than that, it was another great display to have at the show! One aircraft wore a special scheme (as seen below) which celebrates 75 years of the De Havilland Chipmunk, an aircraft that the team once operated under the Royal Danish Air Force. 

Estonia

Estonia came along to a sunny Gloucestershire with one of their 2 PZL M-28 Skytrucks, both of which formerly flew with the USAF designated as C-145 Combat Coyotes. This was the first visit to RIAT by Estonian Skytrucks. These aircraft are set to replace the countries aging Antonov AN-2s, one of which was seen in the static park at RIAT 2018. 44 BLACK was the M-28 sent to RIAT, seen here taxying for departure following a weekend in the static park. Both the Skytruck and the AN-2 fly out of Amari Air Base with 1 Squadron. The 1st aircraft was received as a donation by the US in 2019. 

Finland

Finland graced the skies overhead Fairford with their fantastic Hawk solo demo. This was the first visit by the Hawk Solo, and what an incredible display it was! The demonstration was flown by Captain Eemeli Vähäsöyrinki from the Air Forces Academy Fighter Squadron 41 out of Tikkakoski Air Base. The plan was for the display jet to be Finland's special jet which is painted in the colours of the Finnish flag. That jet however was in for maintenance and as such we received a jet from the Finnish Air Forces national display team, the Midnight Hawks. HW-351 had tail art celebrating 40 years of the Hawk, from 1980 to 2020. 

Support for the Hawk solo came in the form of a CASA C295M from Finlands Satakunta Air Command out of Tampere-Pikkala Airport. Finland fly 3 C-295s in the transport role. 

Ireland

For the first time since 1997, Ireland sent along their recently reformed national display team 'The Silver Swallows. When they last attended, the Silver Swallows flew Fouga CM170 Magisters, now however, they fly 4 Pilatus PC-9M aircraft, which is half of their PC-9 fleet! The team flies with the Flying Training School out of Casement Aerodrome, the Irish Air Corps College. The silver swallows were reformed in 2022 and flew their first display at RIAT, 1 of only 2 full displays they performed last year. 

Ireland also came along with their new kid on the block, the Pilatus PC-12NG Spectre. These aircraft arrived into Casement Aerodrome in Ireland from the USA, where they were fitted with various systems that help the aircraft fill its Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) role as well as being able to act as an air ambulance and transport aircraft. 104 Squadron operates all 4 of Irelands Spectres. The aircraft sent to RIAT was none other than the special scheme celebrating 100 years of the Irish Air Corps. 

Lithuania

1 of Lithuanias 3 Alenia C-27J Spartan was present in the static park across the show days. These aircraft fly out of Šiauliai Air Base.

Also present was one of Lithuanias 3 very smart-looking AS365 Dauphin Search and Rescue helicopters. These aircraft also fly from Šiauliai Air Base. All 3 were delivered in 2015. 

Sweden

The Swedish Gripen is always a highlight at RIAT, and this year was no different. Major Henrik Björling put the aircraft through its paces in what was one of the best fast jet displays of the show! Sweden brought 3 Gripens to RIAT, 1 twin-stick that sat in the static park as well as a display jet and the spare display jet. 39211 performed the displays across all 3 show days but, as it taxied out of departure day it developed a problem and didn't leave Fairford for a few days. All 3 jets came from the Skaraborg Air Wing out of Såtenäs Air Base.

Swedens' support aircraft was none other than one of their 6 C-130H Hercules aircraft. In Swedish Air Force service, the aircraft is referred to as Tp.84s. All 6 fly with the 71st Airlift Squadron out of Såtenäs Air Base. Having decided against upgrading they're ageing C-130Hs, It is expected that Sweden will receive their first 2 C-130J aircraft from the Italian Air Force this year. Sweden aims to replace all 6 C-130Hs.