The Sunderland Air Show is the largest free annual air show held in Europe. In 2016 almost a million spectators attended the three day event.
This year promises to be no different with “another spectacular show which will feature the return of the RAF Typhoon Display Team and The Red Arrows coupled with military stands, live music, fireworks and entertainment for all the family”.
Show’s like this focus on machinery and weapons whilst omitting the effects of the weapons, the destruction caused and the inevitable deaths of soldiers and civilians alike. The public is given a sugar coated, sanitised presentation of modern warfare.
Whilst the crowds watch, in awe of the courage and skill of the pilots, the same jets are being used in a war sanctioned by the UK Government. The British made Hawk and Typhoon jets on display are currently playing a major role in the Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen. Supplied with British made air-to-ground cluster munitions and flown by the British trained Saudi Air Force these jets have been used to kill thousands of civilians.
I understand the destruction that Typhoon aircraft can create, having fitted and supervised weapon load teams to install Enhanced Paveway II, laser guided 1,000lb bombs to the aircraft during Operation Ellamy, Libya, in 2011. The footage of those bombing raids would then be shown for all to see back at the base.
UK intervention in Libya has contributed to its descent into a failed state. Much like Iraq, a power vacuum has been filled with rival jihadi factions and sectarian violence. Profits are made from smuggling weapons and more strikingly, humans. Libya now has one of the most porous borders of any country and is one of the main conduits of fleeing migrants into Europe. UK foreign policy destroyed the fabric of Libya, but you won’t see that at the Sunderland Air Show.
Whilst the crowds are distracted by live music and fireworks recruitment teams from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force will be at work.
We believe that the public deserves better than this and so we work to raise awareness of the true costs of war.
Dan Lenham served in the RAF as a Weapons Technician he is now a Veteran For Peace.
Veterans For Peace UK, is a voluntary, open and democratic ex-services organisation of men and women. Together we have fought in every war that Britain has fought since WW2. As a result of our collective experience we say that “War is not the solution to the problems we face in the 21st century”. Our fundamental purpose is to serve the cause of world peace.