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The United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the USAF Thunderbirds Squadron has performed aerobatic manoeuvres worldwide since its inception in 1953. This year, for the first time in the unit’s history, the Thunderbirds will fly to Ireland to perform at the Salthill Air Show on Sunday the 24th of June. The Thunderbird’s performance at Salthill will be its first ever in Ireland and the unit’s first deployment to Europe since the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and the subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The Thunderbirds Squadron consists of six F-16 C fighter jets flown by experienced combat pilots chosen from among the US Air Force’s top operational combat squadrons. Speaking to the Irish Times from their home base at Nellins Air Force Base in the Nevada desert outside Las Vegas, Captain Elizabeth Kreft, stated that the core mission of the Thunderbirds was to ‘perform precision aerial manoeuvres that demonstrate the combat capabilities of the aircraft of the United States Air Force’.
Clonan, T., 2007: Thunderbirds: Female Combat Pilots US Air Force, Dublin: The Irish Times.