Air Force’s 75th Anniversary celebrated by allies, partners at international air show

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

One of the largest air shows in the world has returned and featured a special tribute this year to the U.S. Air Force as it approaches its 75th anniversary. The Royal International Air Tattoo was held at RAF Fairford, July 15-17.

Airmen and aircraft from around the globe, including the highest military and civilian leaders from the U.S. Air and Space Forces, came together for the 2022 event. RIAT showcased the historically close ties between American and British air services by including a special tribute in honor of the U.S. Air Force’s anniversary.

“Having the Department of the Air Force’s 75th Anniversary recognized at RIAT is truly an honor and shows the depth of the DAF and RAF’s special partnership,” said Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall. “For the last 75 years, our two great air forces have worked side by side in defense of our great nations and our shared values.”

Joining Kendall at the event were Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., and Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond. Their appearances further underscored the Air and Space Forces’ commitment to the United Kingdom, NATO, and transatlantic security, the officials said.

Taking place after a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic, Kendall and other senior leaders said the event remains a symbol of the Department of the Air Force’s commitment to helping ensure the security of Europe and maintaining the historically strong alliance with Britain and other allies across Europe.

“Events like RIAT and our multilateral and NATO exercises allow us to engage with multiple partners and allies simultaneously,” Raymond said. “These events not only help us to make the most of our time but also allow us a large forum to learn from each other.”

This year’s event brought a multitude of U.S. Air Force aircraft, including the CV-22B Osprey, E-4B, KC-135R Stratotanker, KC-46A Pegasus, F-16CM Fighting Falcon, F-35A Lightning II, MC-130J Commando II, U-2S Dragon Lady and F-15E Strike Eagle.

“Our Airmen, past and present, are indispensable teammates to our allies and partners,” Brown said. “Having the opportunity to showcase our aircraft and Airmen at air shows like RIAT gives our allies and their nations a look into the incredible force that is the U.S. Air Force. We look forward to participating in RIAT for years to come.”

While RIAT is based in Europe, it has become an international forum with key allies and partners from a variety of regions. The senior leaders took the opportunity to engage counterparts from their respective Air and Space Forces to include Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, and United Kingdom. Discussion topics ranged from increased interoperability to participation in upcoming exercises.

Also in attendance were the Royal Jordanian Air Force, the Kuwait Air Force, the Royal Air Force of Oman and the Qatar Emiri Air Force.

The Royal International Air Tattoo was first held in 1971, attracting 100 aircraft. Today, it’s considered the largest military airshow in the world and draws an estimated 170,000 spectators. The U.S. Air Force has played a part in some of its most notable moments, including in 1997 when an Air Force B-2 Spirit stealth bomber was displayed and landed for the first time outside of the U.S.

Starting the day after RIAT concluded, the week-long Farnborough International Air Show was held in Farnborough, England, with U.S. Air Force participation further showcasing the service’s commitment to international allies and partners.