Sri Lanka will become the 52nd nation to take part in the Royal International Air Tattoo when an Antonov An-32B military transport aircraft from the Asian island touches down in the Cotswolds in July.
The aircraft will make an 11,000 mile round trip to the UK to take part in the airshow at RAF Fairford on July 17&18.
Since the Air Tattoo was first held at a small airfield in North Weald, outside London, in 1971, its founders, including current Chief Executive Tim Prince and the late Paul Bowen sought to build relationships with many of the world’s military air forces.
Over the years, this has helped the Air Tattoo establish a reputation for attracting rare and unusual aircraft from around the world. In 2006 Pakistan became the 50th nation to take part in the airshow and last year, Algeria was the 51st.
Establishing strong links with international air forces has resulted in a number of coups for the event, most notably in 1992 when the West’s former Cold War enemy Russian participated for the first time and in 2008 when the Air Tattoo was chosen by the US Air Force to display its state-of-the-art F-22A Raptor for the first time outside north America.
Tim Prince said: “I enjoy nothing more than seeing aircraft appear from countries that have not taken part before. It not only shows that the Air Tattoo is continuing to evolve but that its reputation for bringing nations together extends across all five continents.
“The chief of the Sri Lanka Air Force attended the Air Tattoo in 2008 and he obviously liked what he saw. It is a big undertaking for any nation, yet alone one so far away, to commit their resources to taking part in our airshow and I am extremely grateful.”
Notwithstanding its long journey from Sri Lanka to the UK, the Antonov will not have travelled the furthest to take part in July’s airshow. That accolade goes to the 757 from the Royal New Zealand Air Force that will have travelled 22,000 miles to take part.
The Air Tattoo, which is held in support of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust, is the world’s largest military airshow and attracts around 300 aircraft from across the globe. This summer’s event will stage special tributes marking the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. In addition to the flying display, visitors can enjoy a large static aircraft park plus a wide range of ground-based activities including a concert stage, fairground rides, and the interactive Tri@RIAT area for youngsters. For details and to buy tickets, visit airtattoo.com