RIAT 2022 - Southern Europe

23/07/2022

Greece

Whilst it is unfortunate that the Hellenic Air Forces F-16 Demo team 'Zeus' no longer flies their specially painted jet, it didn't take too much away from what was a fantastic display! The F-16s sent to RIAT came from 340 Squadron, 115th Combat Wing based at Chania Air Base on the Greek Island of Crete. Greece F-16s have a really nice dirty and dull grey camo scheme that works very well. I can't say I am a huge fan of the Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFTs) fitted on top of the wings though, they're much too blocky for my liking and the aircraft doesn't look quite as sleek when they are fitted. 

Italy

Italy is a strong supporter of RIAT and always turns up with some really nice aircraft that you otherwise wouldn't see in the UK. 

2022 saw the final UK appearance for the Italian Air Forces AMX International A-11 Ghibli. The AMX fleet entered service in 1988 and are planned for full retirement in June 2023. This was the AMXs first appearance at an Air Tattoo since 2014 when one aircraft performed a flying demonstration. I remember it to be a very good display, although I was only 9 at the time! It'll be a shame to see this very cool aircraft bow out of service, but I'm glad I got at least 1 decent shot of them before they left! 

Also in the static display was an Aermacchi MB-339 from 213 Gruppo. These are the same aircraft flown by the Italian National display team, the Freece Tricolori. It is expected that the MB-339 will be replaced by the new Aermacchi M-345. It was another fantastic addition to the static display to see an operational one. That being said, the Freece Tricolori did attend RIAT flying their fantastic display. The smoke they chuck out is incredibly photogenic, although I'm not keen on the colour it turns the sky when all 3 colours mix together! As usual, the Freece solo (Pony 10) threw their aircraft around in every way you can imagine!

Italy also sent a pair of Aermacchi T-346A Master aircraft for both the static park and the flying display. These cool aircraft fly with 212 Gruppo. The T-346 is an incredibly nimble training aircraft.

The flying display also consisted of a Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon and an Alenia C-27J Spartan. The Typhoon display is without a doubt one of the best fast jet displays anywhere in Europe, and as for the C-27J, I think it's the only Spartan display in the world! And they fly that thing in ways you wouldn't imagine such an aircraft should be able to handle. A pair of fantastic displays. 

Support for this huge Italian contingent came in the form of a Piaggio VC-180 Avanti and C-130J Hercules. The P-180 is an incredibly weird-looking aircraft with quite an iconic noise. This is one of 25 VC-180s that Italy operates, seen here departing Fairford on Monday 18th July. 

The best departure award on departure day has to go to the crew of this Italian Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules, seen here keeping it very low on departure from Fairford. This aircraft flies from Pisa International Airport with the 46th Air Bridage. 

Portugal

A rare participation came from Portugal in 2022, and what was even rarer was the aircraft they sent. Although they don't look like much, these TB-30 Epsilons are cool aircraft, and, all being well, I look forward to seeing them again at RIAT 2023. 

Slovakia

Slovakia operate 2 C-27 Spartans, and the nation often sends one into the static park at RIAT. Seen below is aircraft 1962 on runway 09 as it prepares to depart Gloucestershire destined for Malacky Air Base.

Slovenia

Slovenias RIAT participation came in the form of their Pilatus PC-9M Swift display team. I think they are often overlooked, but I personally really enjoy the display!

Spain

Spain returned to RIAT 2022 with 3 McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornets, with a 2 seater in the static display and a single seat for the flying display along with a spare jet should the main jet encounter problems. 

All 3 F/A-18s came from Ala 15 based at Zaragoza Air Base. 

The kit for Spains Hornet display team arrived and departed in one of the nations 12 CASA C-295Ms, all of which fly with the 353rd Squadron, 35th Wing out of Getafe Air Base. T.21-01/35-01 is seen here arriving onto RAF Fairfords runway 09 on Monday 18th July. This was another aircraft I was glad to have some decent shots of, having seen many of them but shot each one on a phone!