The Air Force plans to send its top civilians — Acting Secretary Matt Donavan and acquisition head Will Roper — to the Paris Air Show.
They are likely to have at least one F-35A to talk up, along with 11 other aircraft.
Unlike last year, when White House officials were boasting of the high level delegation they planned to send to Farnborough to make the hard sell for American weapons — which fizzled and turned out to be pretty much the same as in recent years — we’ve heard nothing from the administration about any senior officials going to Paris.
Of course, the US has such deep penetration in the major arms markets of the world that some might say there’s not great need to send our top salespeople. But defense companies love to have high flyers at air shows to give them more oomph when they meet with country X’s generals.
France and Germany pledged their troth in early February to build and buy something called the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) after Germany’s defense minister said they would not buy the F-35. Since there aren’t too many observers who think this airplane will ever happen, the F-35 may serve as a gentle reminder to this Franco-German concordat that an advanced aircraft is already available and at a fly-away cost lower than that estimated for the planned F-15X. (OK, the life cycle costs are likely to be higher, but fellas, think of the capabilities, one can almost hear the eager government representative saying in his fluent French.)
There are reports the Russians will send their top fighter, the Su-57, to Paris for its international debut, but that one seems to be losing its legs.
Here’s the preliminary list of US aircraft headed to the show. As always, lots of things can come between a plane and an air show…
F-35A (Lockheed); KC-46 airborne tanker (Boeing); C-130J (Lockheed), P-8 (Boeing), CH-47 Chinook (Boeing), AH-64 (Boeing) F-15E (Boeing), F-16 (Lockheed); C-17 (Boeing); MQ-1 Predator (General Atomics); MQ-9 Reaper (General Atomics); and either a KC-135R or a KC-10.