News story

Red Arrows return to UK after historic tour

The Red Arrows have returned to Britain following their historic multinational tour to the Middle East and Asia Pacific.

The RAF’s world-renowned aerobatic display team performed more than 20 displays and flypasts and visited 17 countries – the largest tour in a decade and witnessed by millions.

This included the Reds’ first ever visit to China, as well as Bangladesh, Bahrain, India, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Singapore and the UAE.

Covering around 20,000 miles, the British-built Hawk jets performed at the Airshow China in Zhuhai, at the Indian Air Force National Day at Hindon, over the Abu Dhabi Corniche, over the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and over Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

The tour, part of RAF Exercise Eastern Venture, as well as the Government’s GREAT campaign supporting UK interests in trade and innovation, was well-received across the region. This historic deployment illustrated the UK’s influence across the globe, promoting British prosperity and business excellence.

Route Map

The Reds and their support team landed at their RAF Scampton base today, where they were greeted by families.

Eastern Venture also included the deployment of RAF Typhoons. Their participation in a Five Powers Defence Arrangements (FPDA) exercise alongside Australian, Malaysian, Singaporean and New Zealand forces underlined the depth of the UK’s continuing commitment to the FPDA. They subsequently made history with the first ever joint exercises in Japan and the Republic of Korea between the RAF and Japanese Air Force and Republic of Korea Air Force as well as flying alongside US Air Force allies in both countries.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

We can be very proud of all the RAF personnel who made this exercise a success ; this historic Red Arrows tour has highlighted Britain’s ability to project ‘soft power’ across the world. The RAF have flown the flag across Asia and the Middle East and shown how Britain is stepping up internationally.

Along with our RAF Typhoons flying side by side with international partners, this tour has underlined not only Britain’s defensive strength but also our export potential.

Taken by Cpl Graham Taylor
A unique formation of the aircraft participating in Invincible Shield, a week-long exercise taking place in the Republic of Korea (RoK). A RoK Air Force F-15K Slam Eagle leads a Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 (to its left) and a US Air Force F-16C and RoKAF KF-16.

The RAF Lossiemouth-based Typhoons’ role illustrates the UK working with allies, and also shows Scotland’s active part in executing Britain’s global role.

Eastern Venture follows on from last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review, which made clear the UK’s commitment to the Asia Pacific region.

Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Turner, Air Officer Commanding, 22 (Training) Group, speaking after the jets arrived at RAF Scampton, said:

Today’s return of the Red Arrows to RAF Scampton signals the end of a remarkable two-month Royal Air Force deployment to the Far East and Middle East.

The Asia-Pacific and Middle East exercise saw the Red Arrows, Typhoon fast-jets, Voyager tankers, C130 Hercules and C17 transport aircraft project UK influence right across the globe and promote British prosperity with leading UK businesses in important capitals through the GREAT campaign and by demonstrating British excellence at its finest.

The Red Arrows will soon begin winter training for 2017, the Reds’ 53rd season. The Typhoons will continue their Air Defence role policing UK and the Falklands Island’s airspace and continuing the fight against Daesh in the Middle East.

Additional info

RAF support assets played a key part in the exercise for the Red Arrows and the Typhoon deployments – key statistics:

  • RAF C17 Globemasters moved 240 tonnes of freight from the UK to Malaysia, Japan, Korea and back to the UK in support of the Typhoons.
  • Voyager aircraft flew 70,000 miles delivering 200,000 kg of fuel to the Typhoons, carried 330 passengers and ferried 12 tonnes of freight between destinations in 13 countries.
  • Hercules C130s travelled a total of 55,000 miles transporting 18 tonnes of freight supporting the Red Arrows in 21 different countries.
Taken by Sgt Neil Bryden
RAF Typhoons at Butterworth Air Base for Exercise BERSAMA LIMA 16 with a C17 in support.