MAR Starts with A Bang! RSAF Visits LMML

What better way to start promoting military aviation , than to start with one of LMML’s most exotic visitors of 2020!

Friday the 28th February 2020, the Royal Saudi Air Force Display Team, aka the Saudi Hawks visited Malta for a fuel stop while enroute towards Djerba for the first ever Tunisian Air Show, IADE.

The team arrived in the morning painting the Maltese Flag in the sky and also found out time to pose for photographs and show us around their aircraft. The team departed a few hours later at 2pm and performed a low flyby after departure, again painting the colours of the Maltese Flag over the length of the runway.

Brief History

On June 6, 1998, at King Abdulaziz Air Base (Dhahran), No. 88 Squadron was created by Gen. Abdulaziz Henaidy, the Royal Saudi Air Force’s chief of staff. The squadron is known as the “Saudi Hawks Aerobatic Team”. Flying BAE Hawk Mk.65 and 65A jet trainers, it is the Royal Saudi Air Force’s (RSAF) official demonstration team.

The Hawks debuted in January 1999 at Riyadh, the Saudi kingdom’s capital, as part of Saudi Arabia’s 100th anniversary celebrations. Six smoke-capable BAE Hawk Mk.65A and three Mk.65s-all modified by BAE Systems are assigned to the team and now wear the team’s striking green and white demonstration colors. In February 2000, the Hawks first appeared outside their homeland-in Bahrain, flying out of Dhahran. Soon afterward, the team and the various RSAF Hawk squadrons moved to King Faisal Air Base (Tabuk) in northwestern Saudi Arabia.

The team draws comparison with the Royal Air Force Red Arrows as they fly similar aircraft. There are tangible links as ex-Red Arrows personnel have been involved in training the team. In fact, accompanying the team on their visit to Malta was an ex Red Arrow leader.

This the first visit by a foreign military display team in LMML following the airshow held in Malta back in 2017. This event brought all the aviation community together and gave us a pre-taste of things to come when Malta will hold its own airshow again in September 2020 following an absence of 2 years.

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