The Red Arrows will hold their largest ever tour of North America next year with a nine-week visit expected to generate £2.5 billion in investment for Britain.
Announcing the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team’s historic nine-week programme, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the Red Arrows would display across the Americas, reaching millions of people and showcasing the very best of British aviation: “Our Red Arrows fly the flag for Britain across the globe, both in the skies and on the ground, and this tour will not only showcase their teamwork and aviation excellence, but also promote our great nation to billions of people across the world.
“After an incredible year celebrating RAF 100, it seems only fitting that the Red Arrows prepare to illuminate the skies of our closest allies in 2019, celebrating and strengthening our incredible relationship with the US.”
The tour will promote the Government’s “GREAT” campaign, which was launched to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and raise the profile of British culture and business abroad. The Red Arrows’ return to the US will mark the first significant deployment to North America in a generation, with the team last touring in the country in 1993.
Air Vice Marshal Warren James, the senior RAF officer responsible for the Red Arrows, added: “The deployment of the Red Arrows will demonstrate the global reach and capability of the RAF and our continuing support of the United Kingdom’s defence and commerce industries.
“Together with the GREAT Britain campaign, Western Hawk 19 will showcase our excellence, professionalism and proud heritage in education, engineering, technology and finance to our allies.
“We are very much looking forward to our visit in August and September of 2019.”
The start of the tour next year will see the first display the team has put on in the US in a decade, following a short visit by the Red Arrows to the east coast of the US in 2008.
As well as displaying at a range of shows and events, the team will also attend engagements promoting the UK Government’s GREAT campaign, visit local schools, meet with business leaders and showcase the very best of British culture.
The tour is expected to generate £2.5bn in direct foreign investment for the UK.
The US programme comes after the Red Arrows’ successful 2016 Asia-Pacific and the Middle East tour. The nine-week, 20,000-mile deployment visited 17 countries and drew a global audience of a billion people, with the team displaying in China for the first time.
The tour will cause controversy amongst UK airshow organisers as August is one of the busiest periods in the summer airshow season. Many major airshows will be without their headline act as it is expected the Red Arrows will leave soon after the Royal International Air Tattoo in July.