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Thunderbirds, rare US military aircraft slated for British air show

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds receive aerial refueling from a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, on Monday, July 10, 2017.

CHRISTOPHER BOITZ/U.S. AIR FORCE

By WILLIAM HOWARD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 13, 2017

RAF MILDENHALL, England — Residents of Great Britain were greeted with a rare sight in the sky Monday from flyovers of the U.S. Air Force’s Thunderbirds over popular sights like RAF Duxford, Stonehenge and Loch Ness.

The elite air acrobatics team toured several British landmarks and military bases in preparation for their first appearance in a decade at the Royal International Air Tattoo, the world’s largest military air show, which takes place July 14-16.

The squadron remained airborne throughout thanks to support from the 100th Air Refueling Wing stationed at Mildenhall.

This year’s air show commemorates the Air Force’s 70th birthday.

“We embrace a culture of innovation and dare to break barriers,” U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said in a statement. “It should come as no surprise that airmen are known for taking challenges and turning them into opportunities ... quite simply, it’s in our DNA.”

The Thunderbirds and a F-22 Raptor demonstration team are slated to take part in flying displays each day at the air show. There will also be static displays of current U.S. military aircraft, such as the B-52, B-1, C-17, CV-22, MC-130J, F-16 and P-8.

The B-1B Lancer long-range strategic bomber was last seen at the RIAT in 2009.

Also taking part in the air show will be World War II-era fighters, the Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk and North American P-51D Mustang. “The U.S. Air Force has played an important role in our history and has helped us become the greatest military air show in the world,” RIAT spokesman Richard Arquati said in a statement.

RIAT is held every year at RAF Fairford in Gloucestshire. Aircraft from around the world are viewed by an average of 200,000 people.

howard.william@stripes.com
Twitter @William16058388

 

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly behind a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, on Monday, July 10, 2017.
CHRISTOPHER BOITZ/U.S. AIR FORCE

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