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RIAT 2018 showcases F-35A, U.S.-U.K relations

(From left to right) Senior Airman Daniel Karcher 423rd Security Forces Squadron, Senior Airman Lucas Reichenberger, 423rd SFS, Airman 1st Class Victor Williams, 422nd SFS and Airman 1st Class Jaxon Ramsey, 422nd SFS, stand guard over F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters during the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, July 14, 2018. This year’s RIAT celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force and highlighted the United States’ ever-strong alliance with the U.K. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chase Sousa)

(From left to right) Senior Airman Daniel Karcher 423rd Security Forces Squadron, Senior Airman Lucas Reichenberger, 423rd SFS, Airman 1st Class Victor Williams, 422nd SFS and Airman 1st Class Jaxon Ramsey, 422nd SFS, stand guard over F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters during the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, July 14, 2018. This year’s RIAT celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force and highlighted the United States’ ever-strong alliance with the U.K. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chase Sousa)

RAF FAIRFORD, United Kingdom -- The 501st Combat Support Wing supported more than 170,000 people from around the world for the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, July 13 to 15.

501st CSW personnel stood up and manned a fully operational Emergency Operations Team, provided meals and housing for volunteers working at RIAT and ran security for the U.S. Air Force’s F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

“What’s really special about RIAT is we prove our military logistics capability by bedding down 4,000 personnel and over 300 combat aircraft,” said Col. William Kale, 501st CSW commander. “But what’s more impressive is we bring over 170,000 people here to be educated and inspired to want to be aviators or pursue a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and I think that’s is what makes this air show so unique.”

For the first time, defenders from both the 423rd Security Forces Squadron and 422nd Security Forces Squadron shared the responsibility in guarding the F-35A.

“It’s pretty awesome to be guarding an aircraft the entire world is interested in,” said Senior Airman Lucas Reichenberger, 423rd SFS defender. “Especially when you’re just five feet from it.”

More than 50 RAF operational aircraft provided a massed flypast to mark the RAF’s 100th July 13. Aircrews commemorated the anniversary with “RAF100” tail markings. Also the RAF’s newest stealth fighter jet, the F-35B Lightning took part in commemorative flypasts on all three days of the show.

This year’s RIAT celebrated the Royal Air Force’s 100th anniversary and highlighted the United States’ ever-strong alliance with the U.K.

“The USAF and the RAF share a special bond unlike any other,” said Gen. David Goldfein, United States Air Force Chief of Staff. “The depth of this partnership will only grow as together, we face the increasingly complex, high-end threats of today and tomorrow. Future challenges and adversaries will be met with a fully integrated fourth and fifth-generation force anchored by the F-35.”

Various United States military aircraft were on display alongside international aircraft including the F-35A, KC-135 Stratotanker, CV-22 Osprey, MC-130J Commando II, F-15E Strike Eagle, F-15C Eagle, B-1B Lancer, C-17 Globemaster, HH-60G Pave Hawk and KC-10 Extender.

“(RIAT) has brought people together here to talk about the F-35 and interoperability and the way ahead,” said Kale. “It’s not just fun and games here, there’s a lot of networking and work getting done by bringing leaders together and working toward the same vision.”