The International Aerospace & Defence Exhibition took place in Djerba-Zarzis International Airport, Tunisia between the 4th and 8th of March 2020. The first three days were opened exclusively to trade visitors and media, whereas the last two days it was also available for the general public.

Over two hundred exhibitors from around the world were expected to attend IADE 2020, together with a large number of African delegations and decision makers from Tunisia, Africa and the middle east. This number was decreased due to the rising number of Corona Virus (COVID-19) cases around the world, which lead to several companies to cancel their attendance. This situation also took a toll on the amount of aircraft on static display.

Around one hundred aircraft where expected to be displayed both in the static park and in flying displays, but only around twenty aircraft attended for the first edition of IADE 2020, apart from the daily flights from the Tunisian Air Force cargo assets.  

Our team visited IADE Tunisia 2020 from the 6th till the 8th of March. The first day started off with some very interesting and rare Tunisian Air Force types parked on the static area of the apron. The Bell Helicopters OH-58D Kiowa Warrior was by far the most interesting asset showcased by the Tunisian Air Force on static display. Based at Aéroport Gabes Matmata the OH-58D was identified with serial number L81520, coded “TS-VTR” belonging to 37 squadron. At the end of each day, the OH-58D used to leave the airshow grounds and return back in the morning. This offered us a very unique opportunity to photograph this aircraft in perfect sunset conditions.

The second most interesting asset showcased was the Tunisian National Guard Bell 429, belonging to the National Guard squadron, identified with serial G81103, coded “TS-QGC”. “TS-QGC” was the third and final Bell 429 delivered to the Tunisian National Guard.

The third Tunisian Airforce aircraft displayed was the brand new C-130J-30s from the 21st squadron based at Tunis Airport, Tunisia.

Besides the newer version of the Hercules, the Tunisian Air Force also operate the L-410UVP-E and the venerable C-130H Hercules. These two aircraft types were seen at various intervals during the show providing support to the airshow and bringing cargo and personnel to and from the show.

The majority of the static line up at IADE 2020 was made up by the United States, which included two F-16CJ Fighting Falcons from the 22nd Fighter Squadron (Warhawks) based at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, identified with serial numbers “90-0828” and “91-0344”.

Supporting the F-16s, a KC-135R from the 100th Air Refuelling Wing based at RAF Mildenhall, UK was also displayed in the line-up, identified as “58-0036”. Assigned to the 86th Airlift Wing, and the 37th Airlift Squadron based at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, a C-130J-30 Hercules aircraft was displayed and identified with serial number “08-8602”. The final aircraft displayed was the United States Navy P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol aircraft assigned to Patrol Squadron 4 “The Skinny Dragons”, identified with serial number “169426” currently deployed to Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily.

At IADE 2020, the Tunisian Air Force signed a contract with the Turkish Aerospace Industry worth USD 240 million for six Anka-S unmanned aerial systems and three ground control stations. Exhibited at IADE 2020, was the medium altitude, long endurance Anka-S owned by the Turkish Air Force identified with serial number 15-008. Anka-S can be used to gather intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance missions and can be equipped with armaments.

Saudi Arabia’s Saudi Hawks and the Turkish Air Force Solo Turk, were the only aircraft listed in the flying display for IADE 2020. These aircraft graced the sky over Djerba Airport with their fine flying display on all four days of the event.

The highly anticipated day was Sunday, the last day of IADE 2020, during the opening ceremony of the flying display. A spectacular fly-by performed by the Tunisian Air Force’s F-5F Tiger II from the 15th Squadron flanked by two L-59T’s from the 16th Squadron was the highlight of the whole trip to IADE Tunisia 2020.

At the end of the flying display, Paratroopers jumped out of a Tunisian Air Force UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, with one of the paratroopers displaying the Tunisian Flag during his descent, whilst the UH-60 helicopter returned to perform a short flying display.  

At the end of the final day, two support C-130B Hercules aircraft from the Turkish Air Force and another Saudi Arabia Royal Flight L-100-30 Hercules landed late in the afternoon from Tekirdag Corlu Airport and Heraklion Airport respectively.

List of Aircraft photographed:

Tunisia – Air ForceC-130HZ21012 / TS-MTB
C-130J-30Z21121 / TS-MTK
C-130J-30Z21122 / TS-MTL
F-5FY92504 / IB
L-410UVP-EZ94049 / TS-OTI
L-59TY95-059 / JE
L-59TY96-065 / JH
OH-58DL81520 / TS-VTR
UH-60ML82304 / TS-SRT
Tunisia – National GuardBell 429G81103 / TS-QGC
Turkey – Air ForceANKA-S15-008
Saudi Arabia – Air ForceHawk MK65A8806
Hawk MK65A8807
Hawk MK65A8808
Hawk MK65A8816
Hawk MK65A8817
Hawk MK65A8818
Hawk MK65A8820
Hawk MK65A8821
United States – Air ForceC-130J-3008-8602 / RS
F-16C90-0828 / SP
F-16C91-0344 / SP
KC-135R58-0036 / D
United States – NavyP-8A169426 / YD

Special thanks goes to the organisers of the show, together with all the pilots and crew of the Tunisian Air Force and foreign air forces that put on a thrilling and very organised show for spotters and the general Tunisian Public, raising awareness about the ever growing Tunisian Aircraft Industry.

See you for IADE 2022!