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RIAT 2017 - SKYHAWK MAKES LONG-AWAITED RETURN

An aircraft that last made an appearance at the Royal International Air Tattoo 40 years ago is set to make a welcome return later this month.

The rare A-4N Skyhawk will arrive from Germany and go on static display at the airshow on Saturday, July 15 and Sunday, July 16. The Skyhawk is a single engine attack aircraft that was developed for use by the United States Navy and Marine Corps. It is a carrier-capable aircraft that has seen extensive wartime use, from Vietnam to the Falklands conflict.

Owned by Discovery Air Defence, the Canadian company began operating a fleet of seven Skyhawks from Wittmund in 2015 after winning a contract to provide an adversarial air support to help train Luftwaffe crews. The A-4s are contracted to provide services ranging from threat simulation, target towing to flight test support.

The aircraft taking part in the Air Tattoo originally flew with the Israeli Air Force and has since been modified with modern navigation equipment and glass cockpits, whilst retaining some of the key military capabilities like the A-4's air-to-air refuelling systems.

The last time an A-4 visited the Air Tattoo was in 1977, when a small number of A-4Gs visited Greenham Common from 805 Squadron, Royal Australian Navy. The aircraft launched from HMAS Melbourne, which itself was attending the Silver Jubilee Fleet Review in Portsmouth.

Air Tattoo spokesman Richard Arquati said: "Confirmation that an A-4 Skyhawk is participating in the Air Tattoo is great news and will be welcomed, in particular, by all our enthusiasts. The type last appeared at an Air Tattoo 40 years ago when the event was staged at RAF Greenham Common and since then we've been trying hard to get one back.

"It's a compact little fighter that in its heyday punched above its weight and played important roles in significant conflicts during the 60s, 70s and 80s. Its rarity alone makes it one of the stand-out aircraft taking part in this summer's airshow."

Saturday tickets for the Air Tattoo have sold out but there are a limited number available for Friday, July 14 and Sunday, July 16. To view prices and enclosure options, visit airtattoo.com. All accompanied under-16s are admitted free of charge. Free parking.