Yet, the business
of aerospace is not about showing off these expensive toys,
but actually selling them, keep them flying and upgrading them
to best match and win combat over adversaries. The Paris debut
of the Gripen Demo –
a newly established partnership, led by Saab, reflected this
approach. Saab announced here its teaming with a group of leading
aerospace companies to develop a demonstrator of the next generation
of the Swedish future fighter, ensuring Gripen remains a viable
fighter well beyond 2040. The program is expected to answer
the future needs of current and potential customers, enhancing
technologies used in current JAS-39C/Ds.
Elsewhere in Europe, Dassault
Rafale and Eurofighter are maturing parallel lines, reflected
by operational requirements and foreign competitions. Rafale,
obviously the 'king of the show', gave an impressive aerial
demonstration, with its static display presenting a wide range
of weapons highlighting its 'omnirole' approach. Official endorsement
of planned upgrades is securing its future for many years. Recent
participation in combat operations over Afghanistan positioned
Rafale in a more attractive position to win future prospects.
One of the potential clients could be Morroco, already negotiating
procurement of 15 aircraft for several years. Although Rafale
has not won any export sale yet, strong backing by the French
Air Force and Navy continues to push the program forward - the
latest announcement of the signature of a development contract
for the Active Electronic Active Array (AESA) for the RBE2
radar will make the Rafale more appealing on the export
market. Thales is currently integrating the radar on board the
Rafale and expects to move into serial production of the radar
by late 2010.
With recent orders from Saudi-Arabia and, and the long delayed
procurement by Austria, Eurofighter
is leading over Dassault, at least related to international
competitions. "We are delivering the benchmark-setting
capability to our partner air forces. Our motivation is delivering
a customer-satisfying product both now and for the decades to
come." Said Aloysius Rauen, CEO Eurofighter GmbH at a press
conference in Le Bourget. "Capability Delivery" was
central to the Eurofighter presence at Le Bourget, as reflected
by the "We Deliver!" banner. An important element
of this 'delivery' is the so called 'capability
enhancement' currently underway to provide the parnter countries,
and particularly the RAF with ground attack capability.
The centerpiece of Boeing's IDS defense showcase was the flight
display of the latest version of the F/A-18
– the F model (Super Hornet). Two versions are currently
in production - the single-seat E model and the two-seat F model.
This carrier capable aircraft provides a versatile platform
for a wide range of missions, including air superiority, day/night
strike with precision-guided weapons, fighter escort, close
air support, suppression of enemy air defense, maritime strike,
reconnaissance, forward air control and tanker. The aircraft
is currently in production for the US Navy and Australian Air
Force. Boeing IDS is hopeful the aircraft will find future markets,
especially in those countries currently flying the F/A-18 Hornet,
such as Finland, Switzerland, Malaysia and Kuwait. Other prospective
markets include Japan and India. On the static display, Boeing
has also shown its F-15E strike fighter currently marketed as
with an AESA radar improved (all digital) Electronic CounterMeasures
(ECM) and modern avionics. Potential clients for Boeing's Super
Eagles include Saudi-Arabia, South Korea, Japan and Singapore.
Apart for the stunning demonstration of the MiG-29OVT,
Russian military hardware was limited to models, leaving much
of the mystery and surprises (including the long awaited Su-35)
to the upcoming MAKS Airshow to be held this August near Moscow.
Nevertheless, some of the companies were generally open to discuss
the details of some of the new aircraft, engines and systems.
One of the systems on display was a Russian 4+ generation cockpit,
believed to relate to the Su-35. Another aircraft on display
here was the M-346, which is based on the Russian Yak-130.
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