PARIS AIR SHOW: It’s fair to say that the unabashed star of this show was the Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter. It didn’t fly much but when it did, jaws dropped. With no American military fighters, helicopters or cargo planes flying here this year, the Su-35 pretty much had the show to itself, since the European offerings have been seen repeatedly in years past.
Fast and able to stand on its tail, power through at a high degree of attack and execute the famous Pugachev Cobra maneuver where a plane flies straight up and then seems to curl back in on itself, the plane wowed jaded airshow participants. But the aircraft’s dazzling maneuverability, key to winning dogfights and evading surface to air missiles, would seem to ignore a fundamental shift in air warfare away from the romance of dogfights to the cold, calculated destruction of the enemy from as far away as possible. At a recent event, a former senior Air Force official told me that F-35 pilots were told they had bungled if they ended up in a dogfight. The enemy, he said, should have been dead long before then if all was done correctly.
While the Sukhoi was undoubtedly the star of the show, some other aircraft deserved at least a nomination for “best supporting actor”:
Above is Agusta Westland’s Project Zero rotocraft UAV.
Above is BAE System’s Hawk trainer, used the by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force. BAE hopes to sell 350 of these to the US Air Force, should the program be funded.
The above photo is of the nEUROn UCAV, built by a six-country consortium of European companies. The video below shows its first flight. It did not fly at this year’s Paris Air Show. In fact, no UAVs flew this year, hamstrung by the continuing reluctance of European (and American) civil aviation authorities to allow UAVs to fly outside of closed airspace.
The following video is a compilation of flights the first day of the air show, Monday.