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BAE Systems has a strong civil and military aviation heritage with the Kingdom of Bahrain, which was today celebrated in advance of the opening of the Bahrain International Airshow 2016.

In addition, 2016 marks the 200th anniversary of the close relationship between Bahrain and the UK, which dates back to the 19th century, when a treaty of protection was signed between the British Government and the Sheikh of Bahrain.

Last century witnessed the establishment of new airfields and flying boat bases, including the one at Manama and another one at Muharraq. Soon enough, Bahrain became the refueling station for aeroplanes and flying boats on Imperial Airways’ routes to India. From the first Imperial Airways flight to Bahrain in August 1927, to the inaugural flight of the British Airways Concorde in January 1976 and to the Royal Bahrain Air Force Hawk aircraft of today, BAE Systems’ proud heritage is displayed, in partnership with the RAF Museum, at the Bahrain International Airshow 2016, being held at the Sakhir Air Base from 21-2January 21-23, 2016 under the patronage of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

“We are proud that the fourth edition of the Bahrain International Air Show coincides with the 200th anniversary of Bahrain-British relations, and the inaugural flight of Concorde, which made its first flight to Bahrain.  It is fitting that we are celebrating this at our Airshow, an event that symbolizes the importance of Bahrain in the regional aviation industry, and we are pleased to have a strong participation by BAE Systems, UKTI and the UK RAF Museum at this show,” said His Excellency Engineer Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications.

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Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain, Simon Martin CMG, commented: “Throughout 2016, we shall be celebrating the bicentenary of relations between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Bahrain.  The Bahrain International Airshow is a hugely important event in the region’s aviation calendar and a wonderful opportunity to highlight the importance of aviation in our bilateral relationship.  BAE Systems will be joined at the airshow by many other successful companies from Britain’s dynamic aerospace sector.

“Thanks to BAE Systems and the Royal Air Force Museum, visitors will be reminded of our shared military and civil aviation heritage – including the historic inaugural flight of Concorde in British Airways colours exactly forty years ago.  And thanks to the Royal Air Force, we shall have the chance to see in flight the extraordinary Typhoon, the world’s most advanced swing-role combat aircraft.”

A Heritage Display, focussing on the UK’s Military and Civil Aviation involvement in Bahrain from the 1920s to present day, includes:

  • The iconic Spitfire, probably the most famous fighter aircraft in history, first flew 80 years ago.  A real non-flying example of which can be seen on Static Display at the Bahrain International Air Show, provided by the RAF Museum.  This is the aircraft that defended the skies during the Second World War including the defence of Bahrain. Once again, BAE Systems, in partnership with the RAF Museum, has brought a Supermarine Spitfire to Bahrain International Airshow.
  • The Anson, designed and built in the North West of England by Avro, was used to establish the Gulf Aviation Company in 1950 which today has become Gulf Air, the national airline of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
  • The Vickers VC-10 was used for commercial flights into Bahrain by the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) from 1964 and by Gulf Air in the 1970s.  More recently RAF VC-10s were based in Bahrain during the 1991 Gulf War.
  • The Blackburn Beverley transport aircraft was based at RAF Muharraq from 1964.  This aircraft was designed and build in Brough in the UK, a factory that would eventually build a fleet of Hawk training aircraft for the RBAF some 40 years later.

Tom Hallett, Business Development Manager Bahrain, BAE Systems, said: “As well as having a close relationship over 200 years, Bahrain and the UK also have a proud heritage in civil and military aviation over many decades.  The aircraft in the heritage timeline we are displaying at Bahrain this year demonstrate how engineering and innovation in aviation has been pioneered in the UK and that the Kingdom of Bahrain has been a constant supporter and adopter of this technology.”

A special mention must go to Concorde, which celebrates the 40th anniversary of its inaugural flight into Bahrain on 21 January 1976, when the aircraft made the world’s first supersonic commercial flight.  An iconic symbol of progress, with the ability to speed at 22 miles a minute, this milestone in aviation history only took three hours and 17 minutes to reach Bahrain from London Heathrow. Another first associated with Concorde is that HH Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa became the first Arab head of state to fly supersonically. Concorde was manufactured by the British Aircraft Corporation, a predecessor company of BAE Systems.

These aircraft symbolise how innovation in aviation has been pioneered in the UK for decades and that the Kingdom of Bahrain has been a constant supporter and adopter of new technologies.

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