The US Air Force has confirmed that two of its largest and most formidable aircraft will be flying into RAF Fairford, its only European airfield for heavy bombers, to take part in the Royal International Air Tattoo this summer.
The aircraft, a B-52H Stratofortress and a B-1B Lancer will join other US Air Force aircraft including the F-22 Raptor and Thunderbirds display team as part of celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the US Air Force. Also taking part in the airshow will be an historic P-40 Kittyhawk and P-51D Mustang, both of which flew with the US Army Air Force prior to the establishment of the US Air Force in 1947.
A long range strategic bomber, the B-52 entered service with the US military in the 1950s and became a frequent sight in the Cotswolds’ skies during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, Operation Allied Force in 1999 and Operation Desert Storm in 1991 when they operated out of RAF Fairford. The first operational B-1B flew with the US Air Force in 1986 and provided the air arm with a long range bomber that was both fast and manoeuvrable. It was last seen at the Air Tattoo in 2009. The B-52H will come from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and the B-1B from Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota.
The Air Tattoo’s links with the US Air Force stretch back to 1972 when the Americans permitted the airshow to be staged at RAF Greenham Common, near Newbury. When the Air Tattoo had to find a new home in the 1980s, the US Air Force offered RAF Fairford and the first Air Tattoo was staged in the Cotswolds in 1985.
Reflecting this strong relationship, the Air Tattoo has staged a number of memorable celebrations marking key USAF anniversaries over the years and 2017 promises to be no different.
Air Tattoo spokesman Richard Arquati said: “The US Air Force has played an important role in our history and has helped us become the greatest military airshow in the world. We’re both committed to ensuring that July’s anniversary celebrations continue to be both memorable and exciting for what will undoubtedly be another sell- out airshow.”
The Air Tattoo is staged annually at RAF Fairford in support of the RAF Charitable Trust. The deadline for purchasing Earlybird admission tickets has been extended by 24 hours to midnight on Wednesday May 3. To view prices and enclosure options, visit airtattoo.com. All accompanied under-16s are admitted free of charge. Free parking.