F-22 Raptor To Make European Debut at Royal International Air Tattoo

 - April 15, 2008, 5:17 AM

The Lockheed Martin/U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth fighter will be crossing the Atlantic for the first time in July, heading for the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford in the UK. The aircraft will display three times at this show, but only on the opening Monday of the Farnborough Air Show that follows later that month. It will then return to the U.S.

Among those who will witness the spectacular F-22 display at RIAT will be Queen Elizabeth of England, who will be visiting on the Friday that precedes the show’s two public days. She will be presenting a new standard to mark the 90th anniversary of the Royal Air Force, which will stage a large flyby.  

RIAT is a much bigger public spectacle than Farnborough, with an eight-hour airshow and more than 300 aircraft–mostly military–on display. About 170,000 people attend the two-day event in the Cotswold countryside, 70 miles west of London. Despite taking place on the weekend immediately preceding Farnborough, RIAT is nevertheless supported by many of the prime aerospace companies, as sponsors, exhibitors and occupants of the 20 hospitality chalets on the flightline. BAE Systems is the title sponsor of the Air Tattoo, and last year signed a five-year deal to continue hosting the patron’s pavilion, which routinely attracts air chiefs, British and foreign royalty and media personalities. BAE also provides a separate enclosure for its own employees to enjoy the show. Gulfstream Aerospace sponsors the aircrew reception building and flies VIPs to the show from London aboard its G550 demonstrator. EADS, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have all sponsored the gala dinner at RIAT, a lavish, black-tie affair held in a suitably redecorated hangar. RIAT is organized by a small full-time staff, augmented by more than 3,000 volunteers. Profits go to the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust.