Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows Tour Asia-Pacific and Middle East Nations
The Red Arrows are in the midst of a two-month tour of the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions, far away from their home of RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire. The reason why they are so far from home is to “…showcase the best of British innovation and industry” according to a Red arrows press release. It’ll promote trade and cultural opportunities available with Britain. An even dozen Hawk T.1 trainer jets are on the road, with a contingent of ground support crew. Normally, the team flies nine jets during their performances, which lasts just under half an hour.
Countries to receive performances and flypasts include Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. Then, the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team will visit China, and represent their home country both on the ground at various cities, and then in the air at the Zhuhai Air Show. After that, the team will continue to Thailand, and return home via the Middle East, stopping in Oman, Bahrain, UAE, and Kuwait.
The deployment “…is the largest overseas deployment for a decade…” according to Squadron Leader David Montenegro. The team was formed in 1965, and has now visited fifty-seven countries. The Red Arrows’ 2016 domestic season ended just before their eastern journey began, with almost 70 displays and flypasts already under their belts. They’ll add close to twenty more events before they return to their home at the beginning of December.
The Red Arrows were recently in the news again, as the British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon alluded to a review and possible replacement of the Red Arrows’ Hawker Siddeley Aviation/British Aerospace Hawk trainers. The T.1 version is a basic jet trainer; the type first flew in 1974. The T.1A and T.2 versions are upgrades of the initial design, including the capability of carrying armament. Even newer versions of the Hawk have been produced too, and are still in production today. New Hawks may be in the future for the team, or a new mount may be chosen, if one is indeed needed. Any rumors that the team might be disbanded (whispers heard a few years ago from various sources) were put to rest by the Defense Secretary, as he noted that the team will “…be here to stay for a while yet…” The aircraft replacement decision is still a few years away from this deployment.
Photos in this article were taken at the 2008 Rhode Island Air Show, during the team’s last deployment to the U.S.