A dramatic tiger-painted aircraft from the Belgian Air Force will be among a number of striking aircraft heading for this summer’s Royal International Air Tattoo.

The Air Tattoo, which takes place at RAF Fairford on July 16-17, will feature a colourful range of specially-decorated ‘Tiger’ aircraft from the NATO Tiger Association. ‘Tiger’ aircraft come from NATO squadrons that have a Tiger or Big Cat in their emblem and their association marks its 50th anniversary this year.

Pic by Katsu Tokunaga

Pic by Katsu Tokunaga

Links between the Air Tattoo and the NATO Tiger Association stretch back to 1977 when the airshow hosted the 17th official NATO Tiger Meet. This was an annual get-together first held in 1961 when the 79th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the US Air Force sought links with another squadron bearing a tiger insignia, the French Air Force’s 1/12 Escadron de Chasse. In 1977, 12 ‘Tiger’ squadrons took part in the Air Tattoo and since then, the Air Tattoo has regularly welcomed many colourfully painted aircraft from the association. The Belgian Air Force will be sending two F-16s: the Tiger-painted one from 31 Squadron will be on static display while a second, from 349 Squadron, will take part in the flying display. Both are based at Kleine Brogel Air Base.

Other Tiger squadrons already confirmed for this summer’s Air Tattoo will come from France, Germany and Austria as well as RAF and Royal Navy aircraft.

In addition to hosting a gathering of Tiger aircraft, the Air Tattoo will be marking its 40th anniversary and turning the spotlight on aircraft and equipment involved in the roles of Strike and Reconnaissance. Visitors on Sunday July 17 will also be able to enjoy a one-off lunchtime performance by X-Factor star Alexandra Burke.

Tickets for the Air Tattoo, priced from £39 each, are available by visiting www.airtattoo.com or calling 0800 107 1940. All tickets must be purchased in advance. All accompanied under-16s go free.