All Military Demo Teams (Discussion)

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GRNDP51
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All Military Demo Teams (Discussion)

Post by GRNDP51 » Sat Apr 03, 2021 2:41 am

*Feel free to move this thread Ryan*

I wanted to get confirmation of all the military demo teams, and if they have social media?

USAF - Obviously the easiest one, they all have social media too
-F-35
-F-22
-F-16
-A-10

Aside from that, we supposedly have a "West Coast C-17 demonstration team" based out of McChord AFB in Washington, but I've never seen them. At recent events I've been to in SoCal the C-17/KC-135 "demo team" from March ARB performed. I think they were at Nellis 2019 too? They did have a social media account at one point I'm 99% sure of this, but don't see it now.

USMC - Also pretty easy, but they don't have social media
-MV-22
-AV-8B
-F-35B (?) No official demo team, I believe based bases that operate the F-35B (like Yuma & Miramar) have their own sort of mini-demo they do

Navy - This is the tricky one...
-VFA-122 F/A-18 "West Coast Rhino Demo", obviously the recent news. This looks like it will be it's own completely established team which is great.
-VFA-106 F/A-18 "Rhino Demo Team", that is what their social media account is named. They haven't been active on it since 2020 so I'm not sure what's up. I wish 122/106 could simply be East and West demo.
-VFA-125 F-35C, do we still know if we are getting a "mini" demo team yet?
-E/A-18 Growlers, they do have the Growler Demo Team on Instagram, and this seems to be a pretty good demo for being considered "mini".

I think the question remains on which of these would also offer Legacy flights INSTEAD of full demos, if any of them?

Open for discussion... :D
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Post by RyanS » Sat Apr 03, 2021 4:44 am

I'll add what I (think I) know.

The C-17 "West Coast" team is called that because I believe there was/is supposed to be an "East" team based out of Charleston. The C-17 demos have always been a bit murky to me. I seem to recall that they used to be flown by pretty much any unit until the crash in Alaska and then it all stopped for a while. In the last couple years I have been told that the West team is the only official C-17 demo team. However, Altus has the joint C-17/KC-135 demo team and an Altus aircraft flew the C-17-only demos at Oshkosh in 2018. If you're sure the joint demo you saw was from March and not Altus, that would be the second such team out there (but Altus does specifically claim they are the only such team authorized to perform).

The Marines are pretty much impossible to pin down in my mind. At one point I heard they had established demo routines that could be flown by just about any pilot. A few years back they put out some hype about an official F-35 demo pilot who was going to fly a full on heavily aerobatic routine but I never really heard that go anywhere. It may have just been for one show. The Marines seem to be very 'seat of the pants' and free-form with their demos, at least in my eyes.

As for the Navy, the important distinction is aerobatic-qualified crews and not. The Super Hornets for VFA-106 are certainly an aerobatic team, as are the Super Hornets from VFA-122. The F-35C did some aerobatics in 2019 so I believe they will be rolling out a full aerobatic demo this year.

The Growlers call themselves a demo team, and I can see why because they have specific crews that like the other three teams are Legacy Flight qualified. However, the Growlers are not cleared for aerobatics so when they perform I don't think there is really a script - it's a case by case basis how many passes they might tack on to a Legacy Flight and what those passes might be. I know the Growler crew in 2019 did a fantastic job showing that thing off.

In 2019 the Navy also got T-6 Texan IIs and T-45 Goshawks involved in the Legacy Flights, but I don't believe they really ever did more than one or two flybys in conjunction with a performance (but I only saw them in Oshkosh when they were constrained by time). I miss them being involved, I thought it was cool to see those types participating.

The Growler situation is pretty similar to what the Air Force has done a few times. When the demos started coming back, the A-10 team was at first only authorized to perform what most people called "mini-demos" which was a standard three-pass non-aerobatic profile, plus a Heritage Flight. At the time, they called themselves the "A-10 Heritage Team" rather than "Demo Team". The F-35 started out this way as well before it moved to the full aerobatic profile.

Personally I try to follow that structure and use the aerobatics as some sort of distinction between what is and is not a "demo" team because it requires specific certification for specific pilots/crews. The reason the C-17s are so murky is because the FAA doesn't need to authorize specific crews so probably most units could show up and fly a demo-ish profile. Once aerobatics are involved, the crews need to get an ACE card so it locks in who is allowed to perform and also locks in a standard menu of maneuvers that can be flown. Heritage/Legacy flights also require special approval from the military.

I will also add to your list the PACAF F-16 Demo Team, based at Misawa AB in Japan. They rarely perform in the US although they will be in Alaska this year. I believe they fly pretty much the same profile as the regular Viper Demo Team, but they also borrow jets from units (flew an aggressor F-16 last visit to Alaska) and threw flares around before they US team was approved for them, so they seem to have slightly different rules. Of course, no Heritage Flights for them though.

I continue to be shocked that the Army relies solely on parachute teams when they have so many thousands of helicopters that could put on some amazing demos at airshows. I think I've seen an AH-64 demo ONE TIME in the 15 years I've been doing this. When I went over to Europe the absolute most impressive thing were the helicopter demos by the AW109 and AH-64! I was totally blown away; it's a real shame that the Army can't set up at least basic demos of some sort.
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Post by n33d4sp33d_85 » Sat Apr 03, 2021 5:50 am

RyanS wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 4:44 am I'll add what I (think I) know.

The C-17 "West Coast" team is called that because I believe there was/is supposed to be an "East" team based out of Charleston. The C-17 demos have always been a bit murky to me. I seem to recall that they used to be flown by pretty much any unit until the crash in Alaska and then it all stopped for a while. In the last couple years I have been told that the West team is the only official C-17 demo team. However, Altus has the joint C-17/KC-135 demo team and an Altus aircraft flew the C-17-only demos at Oshkosh in 2018. If you're sure the joint demo you saw was from March and not Altus, that would be the second such team out there (but Altus does specifically claim they are the only such team authorized to perform).

The Marines are pretty much impossible to pin down in my mind. At one point I heard they had established demo routines that could be flown by just about any pilot. A few years back they put out some hype about an official F-35 demo pilot who was going to fly a full on heavily aerobatic routine but I never really heard that go anywhere. It may have just been for one show. The Marines seem to be very 'seat of the pants' and free-form with their demos, at least in my eyes.

As for the Navy, the important distinction is aerobatic-qualified crews and not. The Super Hornets for VFA-106 are certainly an aerobatic team, as are the Super Hornets from VFA-122. The F-35C did some aerobatics in 2019 so I believe they will be rolling out a full aerobatic demo this year.

The Growlers call themselves a demo team, and I can see why because they have specific crews that like the other three teams are Legacy Flight qualified. However, the Growlers are not cleared for aerobatics so when they perform I don't think there is really a script - it's a case by case basis how many passes they might tack on to a Legacy Flight and what those passes might be. I know the Growler crew in 2019 did a fantastic job showing that thing off.

In 2019 the Navy also got T-6 Texan IIs and T-45 Goshawks involved in the Legacy Flights, but I don't believe they really ever did more than one or two flybys in conjunction with a performance (but I only saw them in Oshkosh when they were constrained by time). I miss them being involved, I thought it was cool to see those types participating.

The Growler situation is pretty similar to what the Air Force has done a few times. When the demos started coming back, the A-10 team was at first only authorized to perform what most people called "mini-demos" which was a standard three-pass non-aerobatic profile, plus a Heritage Flight. At the time, they called themselves the "A-10 Heritage Team" rather than "Demo Team". The F-35 started out this way as well before it moved to the full aerobatic profile.

Personally I try to follow that structure and use the aerobatics as some sort of distinction between what is and is not a "demo" team because it requires specific certification for specific pilots/crews. The reason the C-17s are so murky is because the FAA doesn't need to authorize specific crews so probably most units could show up and fly a demo-ish profile. Once aerobatics are involved, the crews need to get an ACE card so it locks in who is allowed to perform and also locks in a standard menu of maneuvers that can be flown. Heritage/Legacy flights also require special approval from the military.

I will also add to your list the PACAF F-16 Demo Team, based at Misawa AB in Japan. They rarely perform in the US although they will be in Alaska this year. I believe they fly pretty much the same profile as the regular Viper Demo Team, but they also borrow jets from units (flew an aggressor F-16 last visit to Alaska) and threw flares around before they US team was approved for them, so they seem to have slightly different rules. Of course, no Heritage Flights for them though.

I continue to be shocked that the Army relies solely on parachute teams when they have so many thousands of helicopters that could put on some amazing demos at airshows. I think I've seen an AH-64 demo ONE TIME in the 15 years I've been doing this. When I went over to Europe the absolute most impressive thing were the helicopter demos by the AW109 and AH-64! I was totally blown away; it's a real shame that the Army can't set up at least basic demos of some sort.
Just to point out that the PACAF F-16 Demo Team's flight profile is in some degree different from the ACC Viper Demo Team. For starters, the PACAF Demo Team performs a double immelmann, a maneuver that we hadn't seen on an F-16 demo here in North America since 2009, back when we had Viper East and Viper West. Beginning in 2010, the double immelmann was replaced by a high speed pass. Here's a video courtesy of Tonkatsu298 to show what the PACAF F-16 demo profile is like.

Last edited by n33d4sp33d_85 on Sat Apr 03, 2021 5:52 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Adam » Sat Apr 03, 2021 6:28 am

Further to the PACAF F-16, there are actually a lot of of US military demos in the Pacific, although the F-16 is the only proper team with a social media profile and (as far as I understand it), assigned crew. The PACAF F-16 performs quite far afield, it does many of the major Asia-Pacific shows except the Chinese ones, as well as occasionally Australia, India and even, in 2018, the UK. A rather unexciting display, I always found, as they seemed to always use a display line several miles away from the crowd.

There is also a "PACAF C-17 Demo Team" (or at least, that's what Asia-Pacific airshows refer to it as). I don't think it's an official demo team and it may not even come from the same base each time, but they still fly at a reasonable number of events. It's not a very interesting demo profile, but it's obviously scripted because they've always done exactly the same routine every time I've seen them. It usually seems to come from the 154th Wing at Hickham AFB in Japan.

The Japan-based USMC units field a few demonstrations as well. Again, I don't think they are official demo teams as they are non-aerobatic and only do one or two shows each year at the most. An MV-22 from 262 Squadron in MCAS Futenma was a pretty regular participant at the Singapore Airshow, and the commentator always called it a "demo team". They have also fielded a very brief F-35B demo on a few occasions (basically a few flybys and a hover), which came from VMFA-121 at Iwakuni.

Finally, while there are no official USAFE demo teams any more, 7 SOS at RAF Mildenhall do a great job each year with a CV-22B demonstration at RIAT. It's not a "demo team", but I thought it was worthy of mentioning because they have an excellent, lengthy and quite varied display profile, which is much better than anything I've ever seen the USMC pull off.
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Post by GRNDP51 » Sat Apr 03, 2021 4:38 pm

RyanS wrote: Sat Apr 03, 2021 4:44 am I'll add what I (think I) know.

The C-17 "West Coast" team is called that because I believe there was/is supposed to be an "East" team based out of Charleston. The C-17 demos have always been a bit murky to me. I seem to recall that they used to be flown by pretty much any unit until the crash in Alaska and then it all stopped for a while. In the last couple years I have been told that the West team is the only official C-17 demo team. However, Altus has the joint C-17/KC-135 demo team and an Altus aircraft flew the C-17-only demos at Oshkosh in 2018. If you're sure the joint demo you saw was from March and not Altus, that would be the second such team out there (but Altus does specifically claim they are the only such team authorized to perform).

The Marines are pretty much impossible to pin down in my mind. At one point I heard they had established demo routines that could be flown by just about any pilot. A few years back they put out some hype about an official F-35 demo pilot who was going to fly a full on heavily aerobatic routine but I never really heard that go anywhere. It may have just been for one show. The Marines seem to be very 'seat of the pants' and free-form with their demos, at least in my eyes.

As for the Navy, the important distinction is aerobatic-qualified crews and not. The Super Hornets for VFA-106 are certainly an aerobatic team, as are the Super Hornets from VFA-122. The F-35C did some aerobatics in 2019 so I believe they will be rolling out a full aerobatic demo this year.

The Growlers call themselves a demo team, and I can see why because they have specific crews that like the other three teams are Legacy Flight qualified. However, the Growlers are not cleared for aerobatics so when they perform I don't think there is really a script - it's a case by case basis how many passes they might tack on to a Legacy Flight and what those passes might be. I know the Growler crew in 2019 did a fantastic job showing that thing off.

In 2019 the Navy also got T-6 Texan IIs and T-45 Goshawks involved in the Legacy Flights, but I don't believe they really ever did more than one or two flybys in conjunction with a performance (but I only saw them in Oshkosh when they were constrained by time). I miss them being involved, I thought it was cool to see those types participating.

The Growler situation is pretty similar to what the Air Force has done a few times. When the demos started coming back, the A-10 team was at first only authorized to perform what most people called "mini-demos" which was a standard three-pass non-aerobatic profile, plus a Heritage Flight. At the time, they called themselves the "A-10 Heritage Team" rather than "Demo Team". The F-35 started out this way as well before it moved to the full aerobatic profile.

Personally I try to follow that structure and use the aerobatics as some sort of distinction between what is and is not a "demo" team because it requires specific certification for specific pilots/crews. The reason the C-17s are so murky is because the FAA doesn't need to authorize specific crews so probably most units could show up and fly a demo-ish profile. Once aerobatics are involved, the crews need to get an ACE card so it locks in who is allowed to perform and also locks in a standard menu of maneuvers that can be flown. Heritage/Legacy flights also require special approval from the military.

I will also add to your list the PACAF F-16 Demo Team, based at Misawa AB in Japan. They rarely perform in the US although they will be in Alaska this year. I believe they fly pretty much the same profile as the regular Viper Demo Team, but they also borrow jets from units (flew an aggressor F-16 last visit to Alaska) and threw flares around before they US team was approved for them, so they seem to have slightly different rules. Of course, no Heritage Flights for them though.

I continue to be shocked that the Army relies solely on parachute teams when they have so many thousands of helicopters that could put on some amazing demos at airshows. I think I've seen an AH-64 demo ONE TIME in the 15 years I've been doing this. When I went over to Europe the absolute most impressive thing were the helicopter demos by the AW109 and AH-64! I was totally blown away; it's a real shame that the Army can't set up at least basic demos of some sort.
Great response Ryan, thank you. You are likely correct that the C-17/KC-135 demo team was Altus. I always mix up their aircraft since the tail band color is yellow/orange-ish. I have seen March send C-17's and KC-135's to shows, but they weren't the "official" demo profile like Altus does, more of just one-off showings for airshows close to March.

All in all, I'm curious to see how it all shakes out this year and next when the airshow season resumes a sense of normality. Very happy to have 122's demo on board to hopefully get the Rhino back on the West Coast circuit, but really hoping that the F-35C demo is still real too.
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Post by n33d4sp33d_85 » Sat Apr 03, 2021 9:40 pm

At one point during the early 2000s there used to be two demo teams for the T-6A Texan II. The West Team was based at Randolph AFB, Texas while the East Team was based at Moody AFB, Georgia. The demo teams lasted from approximately 2003 - 2006.
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Post by n33d4sp33d_85 » Sat Apr 03, 2021 10:27 pm

Here's a list of former demo teams aside from the mentioned T-6A Texan II Demo Teams.

1. F-14 Tomcat East Coast Demo Team [VF-101 'Grim Reapers' based at NAS Oceana, Virginia] - 1980s until 2005
2. F-14 Tomcat West Coast Demo Team [VF-124 'Gunfighters' based at NAS Miramar, California] - 1980s until squadron's disestablishment in 1994
3. F-15 Eagle East Coast Demo Team [1st Fighter Wing based at Langley AFB, Virginia] - late 1970s - 2006
4. F-15 Eagle West Coast Demo Team [One point based at Tyndall AFB in Florida before moving to Eglin AFB in Florida] - late 1970s - 2009
5. F-15E Strike Eagle Demo Team [4th Fighter Wing based at Seymour-Johnson AFB, North Carolina] - 2006 - 2011
6. F/A-18 Hornet East Coast Demo Team [VFA-106 'Gladiators' based at NAS Oceana, Virginia] - 1980s - 2017
7. F/A-18 Hornet West Coast Demo Team [VFA-125 'Rough Riders' based at NAS Lemoore, California] - 1980s - 2010
8. F-4 Phantom II East Coast Heritage Team [Based at Tyndall AFB, Florida] - 2005 - 2012
9. F-4 Phantom II West Coast Heritage Team [Based at Holloman AFB, New Mexico] - 2005 - 2012
10. S-3 Viking 2-Ship Demo Team [Based at NAS Jacksonville, Florida] - 2000 - 2007

At one point Canada's CF-18 Hornet Demo Team was divided into East and West Coast Teams. The West Coast Demo Team was based at CFB Cold Lake, Alberta while the East Coast Team was based at CFB Bagotville in Quebec. Since 2004 the CF-18 Demo Teams has now alternate each year. The Bagotville team performs in even years while the Cold Lake team performs in the odd years.
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Post by RyanS » Wed Apr 21, 2021 2:54 pm

Just to add more confusion, there is now a C-17 East Coast Demo Team IG page out of Charleston!

https://www.instagram.com/c17eastcoastdemoteam/
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