One of the jewels in the crown of US military aviation will make a welcome return to the Royal International Air Tattoo in July to demonstrate some of the unique capabilities of the world’s first operational fifth generation fighter.
The display by the US Air Force’s Lockheed Martin F-22A ‘Raptor’ will be among the highlights of the airshow, which takes place at RAF Fairford on July 8-10.
It was at the Air Tattoo six years ago that the Raptor last showed off its impressive agility in the UK made possible by the stealthy F-22’s thrust-vectoring engines.
RIAT 2016 will witness another display of this thunderous machine’s might, in the hands of Maj Daniel ‘FFits’ Dickinson. He comes from the F-22 Demo Team, provided by the 1st Fighter Wing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia.
In 1991, the F-22 was declared the winner of the US Air Force’s Advanced Tactical Fighter contest to find the next generation of air superiority fighters with the first production-standard example taking to the air six years later. It entered service in December 2005.
A combination of stealthy characteristics, helping keep the F-22 invisible to hostile radars, and a vastly advanced sensor suite are intended to ensure that the aircraft can counter any air-to-air threats without being detected.
Not only is it a formidable air-to-air platform, but also a very effective air-to-ground asset with precision-guided weapons, as shown during the F-22’s combat debut over Syria in September 2014.
Air Tattoo Chief Executive Andy Armstrong said airshow visitors should prepare themselves for a display routine that showcases powerful, precision aerial manoeuvres and the professional qualities of the people who fly, maintain and support these aircraft.
He said: “This summer’s Air Tattoo will be looking to the future and few aircraft can equal the leading edge capabilities demonstrated by the F-22. The aircraft’s appearance at RAF Fairford highlights the outstanding relationship that exists between the Air Tattoo and the US Air Force.”