The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team has officially launched their diamond anniversary campaign today – including unveiling special artwork that will be carried on each of the team’s distinctive Hawk jets.

A new nine-aircraft show is part of plans for the milestone season, featuring manoeuvres not seen for a generation in the Red Arrows’ display routine, which changes each year.

According to a Royal Air Force news release:

“Preparations for the new season are underway at the team’s home base of RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, with the first nine-aircraft formation of the year flown earlier this week during a training sortie – bringing back an iconic shape not seen since 2021.

It is expected the first public show of the 2024 campaign will be in late-May.

UK and mainland European displays are expected to be staged in May, June, July, the first half of August and early-October. Dates for these shows – coordinated by the RAF’s Events Team – will be released shortly.”

Squadron Leader Bond, Team Leader and flying as Red 1 for the first time in 2024, said:

“The whole of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team is focussed on celebrating 60 display seasons in the best way possible – performing the Red Arrows’ trademark Diamond Nine formation in our diamond year, for families to enjoy across the United Kingdom and further afield. Having been to many airshows as a child, I hope our new team and exciting show will have the same impact on those watching in 2024 as it did on me as a young person – to be inspired through what teamwork can achieve and spur a lifelong passion for aviation.

I encourage families and individuals of all ages and backgrounds to join with us in this Diamond Season, especially by attending brilliant events and sharing their fantastic pictures online – of this summer’s displays and flypasts as well as those carefully kept from yesteryear. We’ve already been inundated with well-wishes and messages, letting us know how much people are excited by the prospect of the new display at airshows this season. The logos are a subtle, yet stylish, nod towards the team’s heritage but are also a reminder that our aim is very much to inspire for the future. For example, many of the events we’ll be part of this year will bring people together to encourage individuals to look at the importance of the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths and the role they play in powering the work of the RAF.”

Read the plans here.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF
17 days ago

Anyone have inside knowledge whether there will be a North American component of the tour this year? Believe the last was in 2019. Excellent show, well received. Generally believe that aerobatic teams are the most cost effective recruiting possible for western AFs.

Ron
Ron
17 days ago

I have some questions about the Red Arrows and really hope that someone from the team could answer. First and formost as much as I like to watch them on tv, never had the chance in real life, what do they bring to the combat effectiveness of the RAF. Do any of the pilots teach the RAF or FAA close formation cambat flying. For that matter what is the Hawk as an aircraft in the RAF/FAA useful for. If someone said the Red Arrows and the training squadrons was using the old Jaguar or something akin I could understand. But… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS
17 days ago
Reply to  Ron

Learning to operate a jet. Jaguar would have been too expensive.

Frank
Frank
16 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

From memory, there was a Jaguar at Boscombe for years, might have been an Empire test aircraft…. I used to see it fly over on a regular basis.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
16 days ago
Reply to  Frank

It was. Raspberry Ripple colour scheme too!

Paul T
Paul T
17 days ago
Reply to  Ron

By tradition to be a Pilot in the Red Arrows means you have reached the very top of your game,they take the very best that the RAF produces.In the 80’s the Hawk Trainers had a secondary Air Defence role and were fitted out accordingly.Now im not sure if that would still be the case,but if you were short of Airframes but had Pilots im sure they could hang some Ordinance off of them to contribute in some way.

Jim
Jim
17 days ago
Reply to  Ron

For an airforce that can barely field 7 combat squadrons the red arrows seem like an extravagance. It’s zero help with recruitment and not much use for military diplomacy or anything else. Formation flying has been of little use for decades. It’s shocking that the RAF would allow 20+ frontline squadrons to go yet expect to keep a display squadron as a loan sacred cow. Money and personnel saved from red arrows could easily go to the formation of one or two reserve squadrons to continue operating tranche 1 typhoons. They could paint them red and fly them at airshows… Read more »

Frank
Frank
17 days ago
Reply to  Jim

yes but, a squadron of Typhoons is far more capable than the 20 that have gone…. or was it F35’s you mentioned ?

Jim
Jim
17 days ago
Reply to  Frank

For sure the typhoon and F35 fleet is vastly superior to the Tornados, jaguars and Harriers they replaced. But we are junking perfectly good typhoons for no reason other than we don’t have the money to run them. We need mass and the way to do that is rebuild the reserve squadrons we use to have just like the USA does with the air national guard and remove the frivolous items like aerobatic display teams. The red arrows is the only capability the RAF has that’s not be dramatically scaled back in numbers. That makes zero sense to me. Given… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
17 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Only around 10 T1 Typhoons are in service. 4 in Falklands and 5 or 6 on the OCU. Thats it. The talk of the T1 fleet bringing mass is fantasy.

Jim
Jim
17 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Yes given the RAF low funding those are the numbers available, there was a plan to keep the 30 T1 until 2030, the plan was dropped not because it was not viable or only 10 airframes were serviceable but because there was no money. However my point is not so much about airframes it’s that the RAF needs to go back to operating squadrons staffed by reservists just like it did in the Cold War or pre WW2. We can’t afford mass if everything is front line and full time professional. The USA manages to operate thousands of fourth generation… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
16 days ago
Reply to  Jim

If it takes one year to work up a sqn to frontline use, what is the point. We also do not have a US sized economy or defence budget. Reserve fleets, no matter how tempting they sound on paper, simply rob funding from the frontline. The frontline that can respond in hours/day’s. Not year’s. And T1 although still capable, is expensive to operate compared to the return in capability provided. T1 is in no way comparable to F35 capability, just because the ordinance is similar. £2.35Bn is being spent on T2/3 upgrades. Because that high end capability is what keeps… Read more »

Jim
Jim
16 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

The one year figure recommendation is from RUSI. Apparently it’s something called an attrition reserve. You might not be aware of this but in a peer conflict that’s not nuclear and even if it is the wars not likely to be over in a day. Actually that last one lasted 6 years. Finland does not had a US sized economy, actually its economy is much smaller than ours and they have massive reserve forces. We had major reserve forces in the cold war? Was that the wrong decision? Actually I would argue that the US is maybe the only country… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
16 days ago
Reply to  Jim

We use something called the sustainment fleet. Attrition reserves are factored into the sustainment fleet numbers.

Jim
Jim
16 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Not for high intensity combat they’re not.

Marked
Marked
17 days ago
Reply to  Jim

I don’t doubt for one second that if we found ourselves in a major conflict involving the entire air force those pilots would rapidly be returned to their squadrons.

Jim
Jim
16 days ago
Reply to  Marked

But what planes would they fly? We are not in the Battle of Britain where we had 500 planes a month coming off the production line. We have way more pilots than planes. In a war scenario it can take a year or two to train a pilot. If you want a new Typhoon off the production line your looking at 5+ years if the production line is still running and your going to get 20 a year if your lucky. Very soon that production line will be shut and getting a new typhoon might take 10 years. In combat… Read more »

Marked
Marked
16 days ago
Reply to  Jim

They’d fly whatever their prevoius squadron fly and they are still current on! It might not add airframes but it’s another experienced pilot available to allow rest between sorties and reduce burn out.

It doesn’t address our low numbers or lack of reserves but at least they won’t be sat around idle in their airshow jet whilst the rest of the RAF does its thing.

Jim
Jim
16 days ago
Reply to  Marked

In a major conflict you wont need multiple pilots flying a single aircraft to give them rest time. This is peace time thinking. Aircraft will be lost at a very fast rate especially at the start. The majority of pilots in downed or damaged aircraft will be able to return to front line duty. There won’t be any aircraft left to fly because we can’t make any more and neither can anyone else that we can buy from. Modern fighter jets are like capital ships, you pretty much end up fighting an entire war with what you had in your… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS
16 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Precisely Jim. Pilots will have to probably pilot drones that industry might be able to furnish and develop.
But complex aircraft not possible.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
17 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Axing the Red Arrows would not scratch the surface towards the operating cost for two sqns of T1 Typhoons. Not even close. The Red Arrows bring huge benefits to UK plc. And to recruitment. If the US, France, Spain, Italy, Saudi, Finland, South Korea, Canada and others still operate national display teams. Then so should we.

Jim
Jim
17 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Reserve squadrons are significantly cheaper to operate than front line squadrons.

What benefit does the Red Arrows bring to UK PLC? They are not even flying a plane you can buy anymore the T1 vs T2.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
16 days ago
Reply to  Jim

The Red Arrows represent the very best of the RAF. And are ambassadors for the UK. It’s not about selling Hawks. It is about diplomacy and influence and industry relationships. The US don’t sell F18s off the back of the Blue Angles, but they still see great value in having them. They are the public face of our air arm’s. And they are worth every penny. I see these arguments about the Red Arrows, but never anyone says the Americans should get rid of the Thunderbirds, etc. Because people are only happy when they are criticising something British and great.… Read more »

Frank
Frank
16 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

The Top Gun Film was the original Pilot Recruitment tool back in the 80’s….. Who didn’t want to be “doing Mach Two with their hair on fire ” .?…..

Jim
Jim
16 days ago
Reply to  Frank

Yes, I remember being a kid and wanting to be in the RAF becaus of Top gun. Red arrows never figured for me and I don’t anyone else looking to join the RAF.

No one joins the British Army wanting to stand round a palace in a red coat either.

These are certainly duties that people in the armed forces will appreciate but kids don’t join up for these reasons.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
16 days ago
Reply to  Frank

Yeah, that film did wonders for US Navy recruitment.

DanielMorgan
DanielMorgan
16 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

The original Top Gun film showed an initial increase of 8% in US Navy recruitment but that fell back to normal during the following year.

Expat
Expat
15 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

I share your sentiments but I think the next government will axe them. They’re far too British for parts of our political class!!!

Expat
Expat
15 days ago
Reply to  Jim

But there will be Aerails flying next year, so there’s potential platform to sell. You can’t buy T2s, but BAe would offer to relife and modify both T1s and T2s.

Also conside the Red Arrows don’t alway perform for free, many airshows arround the UK pay or contribute so to some degree there’s a proportion of free flying hours.

And aren’t we now recruiting overseas to boost diversity 😀

Mickey
Mickey
16 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

The Red Arrows are visiting Canada later this year for the 100th anniversary of the RCAF.

Canada’s equivalent of the Red Arrows are the Snowbirds and are still in operation.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
16 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Bravo.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
16 days ago
Reply to  Jim

How are the Reds zero help with recruitment? They present an image of the RAF fast jet pilot being expert at what they do, and it is one of the few ways that civilians can see military personnel ‘at work’. Seeing a show must make a lot of young people consider a career in the RAF. Do you think the RAF has allowed the loss of 20+ frontline squadrons? The forces are under civilian ie political control. It is a political decision as to both the manpower cap an how much new equipment can be fundedt. Nothing to do with… Read more »

Jim
Jim
16 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

It’s a misnomer that politicians tell the military what capabilities to have. Most ministers are not at the MOD long enough to find the tea room unassisted. The Treasury sets the budget, the Minister of the week will vaguely allocate that budget between the forces. It’s the service chiefs that choose what’s to do with it. The RAF has continually made the decision to retain an aerobatic squadron and allocate resources to it while cutting fast jet squadrons. The number of FJ squadrons have reduced by a factor of 4 since the 80’s and the number of aerobatic squadrons has… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
16 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Jim, I didn’t say that the politicians tell the military what capabilities to have, just that they set the overall manpower cap and (with HM Treasury) the procurement budget. True that the service chiefs and their senior specialists decide what to do with the procurement budget. The RAF top brass choose to retain the Red Arrows. They have however not chosen to lose 20+ front line squadrons over the years. The Reds have a unique role. If you scrapped them you would lose that unique role – espirt de corps, PR, recruiting tool – and you would not gain very… Read more »

Expat
Expat
15 days ago
Reply to  Jim

I would suggest a better saving would be to get rid of the extra 4000 civil servants recruited to the MoD since 2016 than cutting the Red Arrows. However I fear the trend of more civil servants will continue whilst things like the red arrows get cut!!!

Quick maths 45k employment cost x 4000 = £180,000,000 p.a not including the gold plated pension.

Airborne
Airborne
16 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Totally disagree mate, the reds are both a decent recruitment tool and a position for pilots to work hard and attain! If you have a low standard organisation then low standards are the norm, have a high quality low numbered pinnacle and you have hard work, effort and a sense of career achievement!

Expat
Expat
15 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Sorry but it allows pilots keep up their hours in a less expensive platform. Its all very well having a reserve squadron but practicing high g manuavers is a g suit with adrenaline pumping, I’m afraid there’s little substitue. And as for recruitment I suggest you visit one of their signings at a show, I’ve see kids dressed in red flight suits going nuts to meet them, you can argue they may not feel the same way when their old enogih to join but with out the Red Arrow they will never feel that way ever!!. If Aeralis goes ahead… Read more »

Frank
Frank
16 days ago
Reply to  Ron

When the Folland Gnat was being withdrawn, the Jaguar was one aircraft that was looked at to replace them but then the Hawk was chosen…. It’s a Day Fighter with certain abilities but it’s real strength is as a Trainer for Fast Jets…. we had loads of them in the 80’s, RAF Chivenor had 4 Squadrons I believe … simple, rugged,reliable and great to fly (apparently). There was no need for a supersonic trainer, this aircraft was an ideal stepping stone, still is.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
16 days ago
Reply to  Frank

4? Blimey. I thought each TWU – Tactical Weapons Unit had 2 Sqns, not 4. So 2 at Chivenor and 2 at Brawdy.
I may be mistaken, however, I was a child at the time!

Frank
Frank
16 days ago

In the 70’s Chivenor had Hunters, I once counted 44 lined up whilst flying my Peter Powel stunt kite up on Heanton hill. Then a bit later, The Hunters all left and I remember they flew out and formed a Squadron number in the air….. then a few years later, the Hawks arrived, Deffo more than two squadrons at times, you could get a great view from that hill……it was a busy airdrome for many years…. some pretty spectacular air shows too… the Vulcan Howl was enhanced greatly by the surrounding hills. there was an airfield bombing run once, a… Read more »

Frank62
Frank62
16 days ago
Reply to  Ron

As others have said, Red Arrow pilots are top notch pilots dran from front line fighter squadrons & will be expert on Typhoons & some on F35s. RAF T2 Hawks are fast jet trainers. They have an emergency capability to operate as light attack & basic air-air, though as single engined jets would be more vulnerable to SAMs. They’re at the end of their opoerational lifes & due/overdue replacing with a more modern jet trainer. Aeralis is a leading contender as a replacement, though there’s plenty of others to chose from.

Frank
Frank
16 days ago
Reply to  Frank62

The US T7 Red Hawk option would be my choice…..

AlexS
AlexS
16 days ago
Reply to  Frank62

I don’t think any Hawk is now capable of combat. Imagine just the bureaucracy to set up secure communications in them…

Aeralis is vaporware.

Wyn Beynon
Wyn Beynon
16 days ago
Reply to  Ron

Thanks Ron, you ask perfectly good questions. The Hawk T1 is ONLY used by the Reds All other T1 are now withdrawn. There’s no point in(and more importantly no money for) replacing them. (The Canadian Snowbirds have been using the same aircraft since the 1960s!) The Hawk T2 is a significantly different aircraft and is used for fast jet training with a glass cockpit etc. It has a different engine.. but that’s another less happy story as it has had a lot of problems, which are only slowly being cured.The RAF doesn’t use a supersonic trainer because it is a… Read more »

Frank
Frank
16 days ago
Reply to  Wyn Beynon

Amen.

Wyn Beynon
Wyn Beynon
15 days ago
Reply to  Frank

😀

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
15 days ago
Reply to  Wyn Beynon

Great post.

Wyn Beynon
Wyn Beynon
15 days ago

Thank you!

Ian M
Ian M
12 days ago
Reply to  Wyn Beynon

I do appreciate a well written, thought through post!
cheers

Wyn Beynon
Wyn Beynon
12 days ago
Reply to  Ian M

Thank you, that’s very kind. I hope it’s reasonably accurate.. I only know what’s available in the public domain.

Peter
Peter
17 days ago

Do we have any timeline for the Red Arrows getting the new Aeralis jet?

Paul T
Paul T
17 days ago
Reply to  Peter

Do we have a timeline for anyone getting the new Aeralis Jet ?.😃

John Clark
John Clark
17 days ago
Reply to  Paul T

I’ve looked and the first delivery is scheduled for the 1st of never, as the song goes and that’s a long, long time…

I’m still waiting for BAE Systems to swoop in and buy up Aeralis lock, stock and barrel. Hopefully for a new UK trainer.

The current company owners can’t seem to get it launched, is it in prototype assembly stage, or is it still just a PowerPoint presentation ?

I’m guessing Hawk T1’s giving way to leased turboprop trainers, or possibly just shutting up shop…

Frank
Frank
17 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Not many T1’s left, most are for the Red Arrows. 28 T2’s for training though.
Another sad decline, the Hawk was a great sales success nearly 50 years now over 1000 built yet we have nothing to replace them.

Andrew D
Andrew D
16 days ago
Reply to  Frank

Any old Hawker Hunters for sale ?

Paul T
Paul T
16 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

I think the American term is ‘Vapourware’ 😜

John Clark
John Clark
16 days ago
Reply to  Paul T

It seems so, from what I’ve seen, it appears to be a sound idea, leapfrogging over the current generation of trainers / light attack aircraft and plugging into the same ethos as Tempest. 3d printing, adaptive plug and play airframes etc. The concept appears sound. It just feels that it would perhaps need to be brought under BAe Systems umbrella to push it forward. A whole range of next generation trainers, light attack and UAV platforms would have great synergy with Tempest, giving a wide range of next generation capabilities. The only gap would be a Tempest light, something akin… Read more »

Last edited 16 days ago by John Clark
AlexS
AlexS
16 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Why do you say the concept is sound when the structural stresses all variants shows would be very different. We are not talking about a 100kph ultralight with different wings.
The main cellule needs to be strong enough to the biggest stress version making the lesser ones uneconomical without an offset.

John Clark
John Clark
16 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

I’m not a professional Aeronautical Engineer, but I would assume the folks at Aeralis are…

Would they devise a concept that wouldn’t work Alex, it is after all their fundamental business concept.

Do we know the black magic that goes into 3D printed structures??

I would imagine they have carried out in depth stress tests on representative components.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
17 days ago
Reply to  Peter

That’s never been confirmed that Aeralis will be purchased. In any capacity.

Expat
Expat
15 days ago
Reply to  Peter

I recall the prototype will fly next year. The elephant in the room in the change of government this year. However the Aeralis project live on France has taken and interest and so has Qatar, but it would not longer be UK based.

John
John
17 days ago

I see little point in this extravagance now. Pilots need to be on front line squadrons. I am up for using some funding for heritage aircraft, but thats it. The national willy waving contest, given the recent scandals, proves what a waste of time this is. Rather see a Mosquito and Mustang added to the heritage collection.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
16 days ago
Reply to  John

The problem is that your average politician would say ” Ah well, that’s the Red Arrows gone. Another few quid saved for diversity training” No extra money John.🙄

John Clark
John Clark
16 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

I’ve some sympathy with John’s position, were told regularly that the RAF is currently critically short of fast jet pilots and ground engineering staff, so releasing 11 highly qualified pilots and 100 ground staff to the front line would be a significant help. Add to that, the cost of maintaining the Hawk T1, purley for the Red Arrows, plus the massive cost of running the reds as a unit, and it starts to make less and less sense. It appears to me that it’s an extravagance that we simply can’t afford today. I would personally rather see a squadron ‘team’… Read more »

John
John
16 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Thanks. I think “tired” sums it up. And yes, if you want to show off the service, to me current combat aircraft makes more sense. The point people miss is the cost, not just financial but personnel. I am a heritage buff I admit, and a slow aircraft display gives more of a lasting impression than something that is gone in a flash. Frankly these teams are tired and boring now. Better put the money and effort elsewhere.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
16 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

I can understand that. My problem is that it will be just used as an excuse to get rid of something. I think the RA’s cost about £15 million a year to run so that’s neither here nor there in cash terms.
I do rather like the idea of the squadron “select team” though. Potentially exciting to watch four fighters strutting their stuff! If Robert is right about T1 numbers maybe they could be “bolted on” to a wing as the team aircraft?

Coll
Coll
16 days ago
Reply to  John

Red Arrows are used for trade, recruitment, and general international relations. Also, If we cancelled something every time there was a scandal, we wouldn’t have anybody in the government.

John
John
16 days ago
Reply to  Coll

Thats not my point. It is a tired and old format. And an expensive one in resources. I call it willy waving for a reason, for a service that can muster less than 200 combat aircraft? A joke.

John Clark
John Clark
16 days ago
Reply to  Coll

It’s an increasingly difficult position to take these days Coll.

I don’t personally think it’s justifiable anymore, especially as the safety regs means the display is absolutely ‘miles’ away.

Replace it with a squadron rotating fast jet ‘force demo’, more relevant, engaging for youngsters and a better possible recruiting instrument.

Grizzler
Grizzler
16 days ago
Reply to  John

Even though Id love to see a mostiquo airborne again I’ d rather see the Red Arrows any day of the week.
As for those saying they do nothing to help the UK.either on the military or diplomatic industrial front..what absolute tosh.

Frank
Frank
16 days ago
Reply to  Grizzler

Yup, they are just venting !

John Clark
John Clark
16 days ago
Reply to  Grizzler

I disagree, (they certainly helped sell Hawk, no doubt) I don’t think they contribute a great deal now, they don’t ‘drive sales’, firstly because the Hawk is very much yesterday’s news and at the end of the line, plus sales are driven by government to government hard faced agreements and (allegedly) large bribes to the right people…. 11 highly qualified pilots at the very top of their game, imagine if they all joined the F35 force, you could have two well crew resourced squadrons, fully operational by September with such a shot in the arm. I would far rather that… Read more »