President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, arrived at RAF Fairford last night ahead of this week’s NATO Summit. 

Wales is hosting the largest gathering of international leaders ever to take place in Britain at the NATO summit (4 to 5 September). This is the first NATO summit since Chicago in 2012, and the first in the United Kingdom since Margaret Thatcher welcomed NATO leaders to London in 1990.

President Obama, Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande are all in attendance, along with leaders and senior ministers from around 60 other countries.

The summit comes as NATO draws down from its longest ever mission in Afghanistan and against a backdrop of instability in Ukraine. It is an opportunity to ensure that NATO continues to be at the forefront of building stability in an unpredictable world.

Air Force One at RAF Fairford © Tom Gibbons

Air Force One at RAF Fairford © Tom Gibbons

During working sessions at the Celtic Manor and more informal events in Cardiff, world leaders will look to address issues which threaten NATO countries’ national security, from fragile states to piracy, from terrorism to cyber attacks.

As a strong player in NATO over the last 65 years, the UK continues to provide forces for NATO operations around the world today. Beyond Afghanistan, there are British service personnel serving in the Baltic Air Police mission and on counter-piracy operations.

Bringing the summit to Wales is an opportunity to shine the global spotlight on this corner of the United Kingdom, highlighting its strong commercial sector – from manufacturing to innovation, life sciences to cyber development, and its academic excellence; showcasing the tremendous potential in Wales for investment and business, tourism and study.

Security for Mr President © Tom Gibbons

Security for Mr President © Tom Gibbons

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, said:

“It’s a great moment for Wales to advertise its modern and economically brilliant face to the world. We are going to have up to 60 world leaders coming to Wales for this vitally important NATO conference, so I think it’s a very good moment for Wales to put its best foot forward.

“We had the G8 in Northern Ireland, we had the Olympics in London, we had the Commonwealth Games in Scotland – it is Wales’ turn for one of these big events, a great showcase for Wales and a great opportunity and I’m really pleased that we are going to be doing that.”

Arriving shortly after AF1 as 'SAM44' was C-32A 99-0016 © Tom Gibbons

Arriving shortly after AF1 as ‘SAM44’ was C-32A 99-0016 © Tom Gibbons

Having flown into RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire on Air Force One following a visit to Estonia, President Obama transferred to Marine One and arrived at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, which is hosting the summit, shortly after 1930 BST.

Tomorrow morning will see a demonstration of airpower featuring assets from some of the participating nations as the RAF’s Red Arrows will be joined by aircraft from across the NATO alliance for a flypast over the summit at Celtic Manor.

According to the government website local residents in Cardiff should head to Cardiff Bay at 8.30am for the best view of the aircraft. In Newport people should be ready to watch the flypast at 8.45am as it passes south of the City Centre, over Spytty Park, Beechwood Park and Lliswerry.

NATO Summit Flypast c/o Royal Air Force

NATO Summit Flypast c/o Royal Air Force

We’ll bring you more coverage of the flypast in due course.