The USAF F-22 Raptor demonstration team schedule that was released today (along with the F-16 Fighting Falcon demonstration team schedule) contains a few surprises for fans, the biggest of which is the number of international appearances. International appearances are always noteworthy for the F-22 since many fans are so eager to see what is arguably the world’s most advanced fighter. These appearances are also somewhat rare due to budget constraints and limited aircraft availability, not to mention the inherent security requirements for the secretive aircraft.
The 2016 schedule includes four airshows outside the US; Trenton and London in Ontario, Canada, as well as the International Air & Space Fair (FIDAE) in Chile and the famed Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) in the United Kingdom. FIDAE and RIAT both hosted the team in 2010, and a planned RIAT appearance in 2008 was canceled at the last moment due to weather. The team has also performed in South Korea, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates in the last few years.
International trips are often met with frustration in the US airshow community as every weekend away is one less opportunity for US crowds to see it, especially with the schedule limitations in the past few years. However, the aircraft is unquestionably one method for the US to send a message about its military might. Given the current state of the world, it isn’t too surprising that the powers that be would send it to perform on a world stage like FIDAE and RIAT. Hopefully many of the worldwide Raptor fans get a chance to see it!