Red Arrows of RAF Scampton set for 'biggest' American tour

Hawk jet of the Red Arrows
Image caption It is the first time the Red Arrows have been to North America since 2008

The Red Arrows display team is to undertake a coast-to-coast tour of North America for 11 weeks aimed at generating investment for Britain.

The Royal Air Force's aerobatic team is due to leave the UK for Canada and the United States on 5 August.

The team, based in Lincolnshire at RAF Scampton, near Lincoln, is to visit more than 25 cities.

Their last UK display this year is at the weekend's Royal International Air Tattoo in Gloucestershire.

RAF Scampton has housed the Red Arrows since 2000, but the Ministry of Defence announced last year the base was to close by 2022.

Wing Commander Andrew Keith, who commands the team, said: "It is going to be a big, big tour. This is our biggest undertaking in America.

"We are taking our nine-ship display team showing the precision and excellence of the Royal Air Force."

The trip would demonstrate RAF expertise and highlight UK excellence, using the Red Arrows brand, he said.

"For us it is just doing what we do well", he added.

Image caption The team has toured China and the Middle East in recent years

The team's Hawk jets cannot refuel in the air and do not have the range for the transatlantic crossing. They will be flown via several stops, including Scotland, Iceland and Greenland, to reach Halifax in Canada.

There will be 11 pilots and more than 100 support personnel and technicians.

The first public flypast will be in Halifax on 11 August with Chicago being their first US airshow, on 17 August.

Miramar Airshow, near San Diego, California - the base previously home to the US Navy's Top Gun school - is also on the tour.

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