The Saudi Hawks are no strangers to the Al Ain Aerobatic Show having performed at the event countless times before, and the organisers were very keen to welcome their neighbours back once more.
2013 marked the 15th anniversary of the formation of the Saudi Hawks Aerobatic Team, having been stood up as No. 88 Squadron at King Abdulaziz Air Base (Dhahran) on 6 June 1998.
Now based at King Faisal Air Base (Tabuk), the team represents the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) at home and abroad and flies a six-ship display using vivid green BAE Systems Hawk T65 and T65A aircraft.
The long-standing tradition of former-Red Arrows working alongside their RSAF counterparts continues, with Sqn Ldr Simon “Kermit” Rea the current incumbent in the ‘Advisor’ role.
Despite the fact they fly three less aircraft, the Saudi Hawks’ routine very clearly draws much inspiration from the Reds’ own and was particularly well received by the Al Ain crowd on each of the three days they performed.
With 2014 marking the 50th anniversary of the Red Arrows’ own formation, one wonders whether we might see a return to UK skies for the Saudi Hawks? Time will tell, I guess.
I’ll slow things down a tad in my next entry as I move on to Paul Bonhomme and Steve Jones, The Matadors.