MILAVIA > Air Shows > Display Teams > Red Arrows Last updated: 15 May 2016
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Display Teams : Red Arrows

RAF Red Arrows Patch

Royal Air Force Red Arrows

Country United Kingdom
Unit Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team (RAFAT)
Base RAF Scampton
Aircraft 9 x Hawk T.1

The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team Red Arrows is the public face of the Royal Air Force. Since the Team’s creation in 1965, the Red Arrows have flown over 4,000 displays in 52 countries, acting as ambassadors for Great Britain when displaying overseas. Since 2001, the Red Arrows are based and train at RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire. During the final stage of training, the team also use Royal Air Force Akrotiri in Cyprus for guaranteed clear blue skies. The display season starts in late May after final assessment by the Red Arrows’ Commander-in-Chief awards the Public Display Authority.

The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team (RAFAT), the formal name of the Red Arrows, began life at RAF Fairford in Glouces­tershire, then a satellite of the Central Flying School (CFS). The name ‘Red Arrows’ was chosen to combine the appeal and expertise of two earlier teams, the Black Arrows and the Red Pelicans.

Initially there were seven display pilots and ten Gnat jet trainers. In their first season, 1965, the Red Arrows flew 65 displays in Britain, France, Italy, Holland, Belgium and Germany. For 1966, two spare pilots were added but the Team continued to fly just seven aircraft in most displays. The first display with 9 pilots was in July 1966 for the benefit of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. The Red Arrows flew nine aircraft in displays from time to time from mid-1966 onwards, but it was not until 1968 that the Team was officially increased in size to nine. The Diamond 9 formation became the team's official trade mark. Replacing the Folland Gnat, the BAe Hawk T.1 has been used by the Red Arrows since 1979, with in 1980 the first display season with the Hawk.

The Hawk T.1 aircraft are essentially the same as those flown by Advanced Flying Training students at Royal Air Force Valley, with the exception of smoke generation modifications and a slightly uprated engine which gives a faster response time. Each aircraft can carry enough diesel and dye to create five minutes of white smoke, one minute of red and one minute of blue during the display. The Red Arrows' fleet of up to 13 aircraft is maintained by about 65 technicians. Nine aircraft engineers are chosen to form a team known as Circus with each member allocated to a specific pilot for the duration of the summer display season. They fly in the passenger seat of the Hawk to and from display airfields and service the aircraft before and after every display.

In addition to the nine display aircraft and pilots (Red 1-9), Red 10 is a fully-qualified Hawk pilot of Squadron Leader rank who flies a 10th aircraft when the Red Arrows deploy to an airfield site away from base, giving the team a reserve aircraft. Also known as the Road Manager, Red 10’s main duties include display co-ordination, ground safety officer, and commentator. The passenger seat of Red 10 is occupied by Circus 10, but for photo flights Red 10 will fly the photographer of the team, MoD, or approved media.

The RAF Red Arrows flew their 50th display season in 2014.

RAF Red Arrows Photo Gallery

RAF Red Arrows 2016 : Red Arrows at Tanagra air base in Greece during pre-season training © George Karavantos

RAF Red Arrows 2015 : Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford © Jiun Yap

RAF Red Arrows 2015 : Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford © Jiun Yap

RAF Red Arrows 2015 : Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford © Jiun Yap

RAF Red Arrows 2015 : Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford © Jiun Yap

RAF Red Arrows 2015 : Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford © Jiun Yap

RAF Red Arrows 2015 : Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford © Jiun Yap

RAF Red Arrows 2015 : Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford © Jiun Yap

RAF Red Arrows 2014 : Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford © Jiun Yap

RAF Red Arrows 2014 : Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford © Jiun Yap

RAF Red Arrows 2014 : Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford © Jiun Yap

RAF Red Arrows 2014 : Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford © Jiun Yap

RAF Red Arrows 2014 : Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford © Jiun Yap

RAF Red Arrows 2013 : Luchtmachtdagen 2013 Volkel AB © Niels Hillebrand

RAF Red Arrows 2013 : Luchtmachtdagen 2013 Volkel AB © Niels Hillebrand

RAF Red Arrows 2013 : Luchtmachtdagen 2013 Volkel AB © Niels Hillebrand

RAF Red Arrows 2013 : Luchtmachtdagen 2013 Volkel AB © Niels Hillebrand

RAF Red Arrows 2013 : Luchtmachtdagen 2013 Volkel AB © Niels Hillebrand

RAF Red Arrows 2013 : Luchtmachtdagen 2013 Volkel AB © Niels Hillebrand

RAF Red Arrows 2013 : Luchtmachtdagen 2013 Volkel AB © Niels Hillebrand

RAF Red Arrows 2013 : RAF Leuchars Airshow © Des Brennan

RAF Red Arrows 2013 : Royal International Air Tattoo, RAF Fairford, UK © Jiun Yap

RAF Red Arrows 2013 : with British Airways A380 at the Royal International Air Tattoo, RAF Fairford, UK © Jiun Yap

RAF Red Arrows 2011 © Des Brennan

RAF Red Arrows 2011 © Niels Hillebrand

RAF Red Arrows 2011 © Niels Hillebrand

RAF Red Arrows 2010 © Des Brennan

RAF Red Arrows 2010 © Des Brennan

RAF Red Arrows 2009 : RNLAF Open Days, Volkel, The Netherlands © Niels Hillebrand

RAF Red Arrows 2009 : RNLAF Open Days, Volkel, The Netherlands © Niels Hillebrand

RAF Red Arrows 2009 : RNLAF Open Days, Volkel, The Netherlands © Niels Hillebrand

RAF Red Arrows 2009 : RNLAF Open Days, Volkel, The Netherlands © Niels Hillebrand

RAF Red Arrows 2009 : RNLAF Open Days, Volkel, The Netherlands © Niels Hillebrand

RAF Red Arrows 2009 © Des Brennan

RAF Red Arrows 2009 © Des Brennan

RAF Red Arrows 2007 : Royal International Air Tattoo, RAF Fairford, UK © Niels Hillebrand

RAF Red Arrows 2006 © Ramon van Opdorp