Like every year the RIAT is formed around special themes. The three most important themes of this year were the 50th anniversary of the Hercules, 30 years of the Hawk en the 60th anniversary of D-Day. We'll take a closer look at two of them.
50 Years of the Hercules
The synonym for military air transport is called Hercules. For 50 years the C-130 Hercules is the workhorse of most western air forces. The 'Herc' is also used as an international instrument of humanitarian goodwill. From Ethiopia and Rwanda to Kosovo and Somalia, The Hercules has brought relief to many thousands of hungry people in some of the most inhospitable areas of the globe.
To mark the 50th anniversary of this multi-talented aircraft, RIAT 2004 will spotlight the aircraft's versatility in search and rescue, famine relief, inflight refuelling, firefighting, Arctic operations support, 'paratroop delivery and military support roles around the world.
The line-up of Herc's was impressive as can be seen below. Especially the contribution of the US forces must be noted with some exclusive visits like the Alaska and Puerto Rican C-130. Strangely most European operators were absent.
LC-130, US ANG
C-130, New Zealand
WC-130J, US Weather research
C-130H, Nashville ANG
C-130H, Alaska ANG
C-130E, Puerto Rican ANG
30 Years of the Hawk
After 30 years on the job, the Hawk remains a widely used trainer / attack aircraft. What makes the Hawk special is it´s multi role operational uses. It can be used as an trainer aircraft and a light attack aircraft at the same time. The Hawk is no used by 8 countries and the T1 model was the base for the American T-45 Goshawk navy trainer.
How fitting then, that as the Hawk celebrates its birthday, the display team Reds Arrows, using the Hawk since 1980, will be at The Royal International Air Tattoo to celebrate another landmark - their 40th display season.
The line-up of Hawks was disappointing, most of the 8 international operators were absent. Highlights include the soon to be delivered Canadian CT-155 Hawk and the Finnish display team: Midnight Hawks.